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Summer Squash


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Summer Squash



Summer Squash

CULTURE: FROM TRANSPLANTS: Fertile, composted, well-drained soil is best.
DIRECT SEEDING: Sow beginning in late spring after danger of frost, when soil temp. is at least 62F (17C) for treated seeds and 70F (21C) for untreated seeds. Seeds will rot in cool, wet soil. Sow 2-3 seeds every 9-12" (thin to 1 plant), 1/2-1" deep; or sow about 4" apart (thin to 1 plant/ft.), rows 5-6' apart.
ROW COVERS: Heavier grade floating row covers (see Index) will provide about 4F of frost protection, and add warmth for increased vigor and earlier harvest.
DISEASES: If the first few fruits wither, blacken, and/or fail to enlarge, it indicates an absence of pollination, remedied when male blossoms appear and provide pollen. Viral diseases tend to be cyclic; watch for resistant varieties. Downy mildew may occur in cool, damp weather, powdery mildew in hot, dry periods and in the fall. Till in vines before winter or remove and compost plants. Copper fungicides (see Index) offer some preventative control if applied early enough.
INSECT PESTS: Protect young plants with floating row covers (see Index)to exclude cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and vine borers. Rotenone and pyrethrin (see Index) offer some control. Squash bug eggs(brown to brick red, laid in concise groups) on underside of leaves can be crushed by hand. Keep borders mowed. For vine borers, use rotenone around the base of young plants. Cut borers out of vines and hill soil over the wound. Clean up refuse in the fall, and spring-plow the ground to bury the pupae.
HARVEST: Sow every 2-3 weeks for consistent supply. Cut or gently twist off young fruit. Handle with care to avoid scratching fruits. Harvest regularly, 2-3 times/week depending on age of plants and daylight.
HARVEST SQUASH BLOSSOMS: Male blossoms have thin stems, females have thick stems and a bulbous base where fruit is developing. Harvest male/female blossoms at midday, when fully open, for use in salads or for stuffing. If squash crop is desired, harvest only male flowers, being certain to leave a few to pollinate female flowers. Clip flowers from vine 1-2" below flower base with sharp scissors or pruners (see Index).
STORAGE: Refrigerate fruit at 32-50F (0-10C), 80-90% RH, for 1-2 weeks. Store blossoms in water in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
DAYS TO MATURITY: From direct seeding; subtract about 14 days if transplanting.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE: (at 3 seeds/ft., rows 6' apart)-Zucchini: 62'/oz., 1,000'/lb., 7 1/4 lb./acre. Yellow Summer: 93'/oz., 1,500'/lb., 5 lb./acre. Patty Pan/Scallop: 100'/oz., 1,600'/lb., 4 1/2 lb./acre.
TRANSPLANTS: Calculate rates from seed counts.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: Zucchini: 2,500-4,200 (avg. 3,000); Yellow Summer: 4,200-6,000 (avg. 4,500); Specialty: 3,500-5,800 (avg. 4,600).
PACKET: Avg. 30 seeds, unless otherwise noted.


Summer Squash


THE BENEFITS OF SUMMER SQUASH

Summer squash belongs to the group of squashes that is harvested when it is immature. In other words, it is harvested while the rind is still tender and edible. The fruit is small in size and can be eaten with little or no cooking. It hails from the family of Cucurbitaceae and shares some similarity with melon and cucumber. Though widely available throughout the year, its main growing season is the summer months between May and July. Summer squash comes in different varieties, all of which share some common characteristics. Some of the widely known varieties of summer squash are Zucchini, Crookneck and Straightneck Squash and Pattypan Squash. Whole of the vegetable is edible, including its flesh, seeds and skin. In certain varieties, even the flowers are edible.

Summer squash is more fragile in comparison to the winter squash and thus can be stored only for short time period. It originally grew as a wild plant in the area between Gautemala and Mexico. It has been more than 10,000 years since the fruit is being eaten by people. Earlier, it was eaten primarily for its seeds, as it contained less of flesh, which generally tasted bitter. Now, the whole of the fruit is consumed. With the passage of time, summer squash came to be cultivated extensively all around America. Christopher Columbus brought it back to Europe. Consequently, the Portuguese and Spanish explorers brought the cultivation of summer squash to different corners of the world. Today, the leading commercial producers of the squash are China, Japan, Romania, Turkey, Italy, Egypt, and Argentina.

Health Benefits Of Eating Summer Squash

  • Summer squash juice prevents the cell mutations, which are the changes accompanying cancer. In other words, it is highly helpful in fighting cancer.
  • The squash helps in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in men. BPH is the condition associated with enlargement of prostate gland in men, which hampers their urinary and sexual function. The fruit is more effective when taken in combination with other phytonutrient-containing foods.
  • It is rich in various nutrients, like manganese, C, vitamin A, magnesium, fiber, potassium, folate, phosphorous, riboflavin and copper. Many of these nutrients prove extremely helpful in preventing atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.
  • The magnesium present in summer squash helps in reducing high blood pressure. Its folate helps in breaking homocysteine that, if it goes to a high level, can cause heart attack and stroke risk.
  • The Vitamin C and beta-carotene present in summer squash prevent oxidation of cholesterol. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties, which make them helpful in fighting diseases like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They, along with the folate, also protect the body cells from those chemicals that cause colon cancer.
  • The fiber content in summer squash helps in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. It also keeps the cancer causing toxins away from the colon cells.
  • The copper present in summer squash helps in reducing the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Summer squash contains high water content, which prevents dehydration. Thus, the fruit is popularly consumed in summers.
  • The carotene element present in summer squash helps protect the body against the damaging effect of sun.
Caution
  • Summer squash contains a small quantity of oxalates, which crystallizes in body fluids, when accumulated in concentrated form. Because of this, people with existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid having summer squash.
  • The oxalates present in summer squash can hinder hamper the absorption of calcium by the body. However, this interference is too small in quantity and can conveniently be covered by the ability of oxalate-containing foods to provide calcium to the meal plan.