The Cucurbitacea plant family includes pumpkin, courgette, squash, along with cucumber, watermelon, and various other melons. Evidence of the cultivation of these plant types goes back to ancient times.T he family of squashes are called curcubits.
When planting out pumpkins, squashes & courgettes — whether home grown or store-bought — seedlings need acclimatising to outdoor conditions before planting out (also known as ‘hardening off.’)
There are two main types of squash – summer squash such as zucchini and winter squash, such as pumpkin and acorn squash. Winter squash are allowed to mature and form a hard skin (or ‘rind’) which enables them to be stored over winter
Sow indoors in April. After the last frosts, harden-off plants before planting out. Put plenty of mulch and manure into the soil to help retain moisture. You can also lay plastic sheeting over moist soil to retain damp growing conditions.
- Water regularly for good crops, but avoid overhead watering if possible as this can encourage fungal diseases.
- Dryness at the roots encourages powdery mildew.
- Squashes need full sun.
- Curcubits are greedy feeders. Enrich soil with well-rotted compost or manure and general fertiliser. Once fruits start to set (usually after about 6 weeks) – give the patch a high-potash fertiliser every 10-14 days (about once every 2 weeks). Other advice includes using a high potassium liquid fertiliser (The Garden, RHS March 2015, p.30)
- If you are lucky enough to have a cold frame in a kitchen garden, place plants outside during the day and bring them in at night.
- by mid-May / early June it should be safe to plant them out
- water well before planting
- plant trailing pumpkins & other squashes 6 feet (1.8m) apart
- plant bush pumpkins, squash & courgette 3 feet apart (90 cm)
Squashes can be grown in containers at least 18 inches wide (45 cm).
COURGETTES: Prolific growers, but male flowers are also a delicacy. Sow under cover in late spring – transplant outdoors from late May to early June. To maintain yields pick regularly, and make a second sowing at the end of June.