Squash is a vine crop grouped as either a summer or winter variety, based, respectively, on whether it's harvested as young or mature fruit. Squash were one of the three main crops, along with maize and beans, that Native Americans planted, and they have remained a staple in many a home garden.

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Squash is prolific, making it popular in home gardens.

Plants

Every variety of squash shares many common characteristics. These include the broad variety, which are 4 to 8 inches wide and have dark-green rounded leaves with three to five lobes. All squash produce bright-yellow to orange trumpet-shaped flowers in mid-summer to fall; these are separate male and female flowers and are followed by fruit. All squash spreads through vines.

Winter Squash

Winter squash, usually grown on a sprawling vine, includes fruits of a variety of different shapes, sizes and flavors. Among the different colors include dark green, yellow, orange and multi-colored. They have a hard outer rind with hard flesh and a cavity with a large amount of seeds inside. Winter squash takes awhile to grow and ripen and is typically harvested late in the season. Types of winter squash include pumpkin, butternut, acorn, Kabocha, buttercup and spaghetti squash.

Summer Squash Fruit

Summer squash, grown on a compact vine or bush-type vine, can develop quickly and is a prolific producer. The fruit is smaller than winter squash, but also varies in shape and size. The colors vary from a creamy white and golden yellow to dark green. Summer squash is immature and soft-skinned fruit that is harvested early. Types of summer squash include the ever-familiar zucchini, yellow crookneck and straightneck squash, and patty pan squash.

Growing Considerations

Squash are warm-season crops and are not cold-hardy, so plant after the soil has thoroughly warmed up to 65 degrees or higher. Squash also needs a lot of space and, if you are not careful, it can take over your garden. Control weeds frequently and water plants once a week if the weather is dry. Also, watch out for and control squash bugs and squash vine borers, as they can be serious pests.