Called Isquoutersquash by Native Americans and marrow by the British, squash is a much-loved vegetable. Gardeners worldwide produce lots of different types of squash and take advantage of its diverse flavor and texture offerings.
Squash is divided into two main categories – summer and winter squashes. Generally, winter types of squash have a more vining growth habit and a thicker rind – they last well in the root cellar. Summer squashes are vibrantly colored with a bushy growth pattern and are harvested when immature and thinned-skinned.
Squashes make a fun and straightforward addition to the garden, and with so many squash types to try, it’s worth planting a few varieties of squash beyond your favorite. Learn more about the difference between squash and zucchini to ensure that you choose the right gourd for your needs.
Perfect Varieties of Squash for a Home Garden
With so many types of squash, deciding which squash types you want to include in your garden is challenging. Different varieties of squash have different growing requirements and distinct flavor profiles, textures, and uses. The same is true for the many gourd types and shapes and sizes.
When debating which squash might best suit your garden, consider the space you have to work with, the local growing conditions, and how much squash you hope to produce. Do you love the sweet, nutty flavor of butternut squash, or are you hoping to produce some giant pumpkins to use as jack-o-lanterns come fall? Whether you are squash vs pumpkin or both, they demand a lot of room.
Squash species demand a lengthy growth season and warm soil, much like every other member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. All varieties of squash thrive in the heat and sun. For the best results, begin growing squash like winter squash, summer squash, and pumpkins in full sun as soon as the temperature regularly stays over 65 °F.
Best Types of Squash to Grow – Zucchini
Zucchini is a popular summer squash with dark green edible skin and paler green insides. The different types of zucchini plants have fruit with a smooth texture, and its green skin is thin and easy to chew. Its mild flavor makes it one of the most common types of squash used in everyday cooking, and it’s readily available in the grocery store.
Zucchini requires full sun, and vining varieties are typically grown on trellises thanks to their sprawling growth habit. Some bush zucchini varieties are more compact and better suited for container or small space gardening.
Pumpkins are Easy and Fun to Grow
Recognizable for their bright orange skin and being flavorful and nutritious, pumpkins play a massive role in cultural holidays, not limited to carving their rind for jack-o-lanterns in the fall. Pumpkins have a rich sweet flavor, making them perfect for puree, pies, or savory soups. Pumpkin is often paired with sweet potato for a sweet-savory fall flavor profile.
Plant pumpkins early in the spring; they mature in 90-100 days. Their vines grow prolifically and benefit from a trellis or support system to keep the pumpkins off the ground. These heavy feeders need full sun and prefer a rich, loamy, well-draining soil mix.
Spaghetti Squash is One of the Best Squash Types
Spaghetti squash has recently increased in popularity because it is a perfect pasta alternative without carbs. This sizeable yellow squash has pale ivory insides. The innards shred with a fork to resemble spaghetti. Its pleasing texture and mild flavor make it an excellent substitution for spaghetti in any traditional pasta dish.
Growing spaghetti squash on a spagetti squash plant is straightforward, though it requires plenty of space in the garden. This tasty squash takes about 100 frost-free days to mature and may be grown vertically to save space.
Save your squash in the root cellar or learn about preserving spaghetti squash by canning them. Enjoying squash all year is easy this way.
Butternut Squash is Ideal for the Home Garden
Butternut squash, not to be confused with buttercup squash, is a tasty winter squash with a nutty flavor. These larger squashes have a tan-colored rind with orange flesh and work well baked and seasoned as a side dish and as the main part of a meal; their soft texture is easily pureed.
Butternut squash is an annual member of the winter squash family. These hardy plants thrive in almost any environment and are typically planted in the spring after the last frost.
Although its vines grow swiftly, it may take three to four months after planting for the fruits to be ready for harvest. Bush cultivars of butternut squash are available for gardens with limited space or container gardening.
Winter Squash Varieties
The firm rinds and lengthy shelf lives of the winter squash family are well recognized, making them a popular planting choice. Though they are called winter squash, these veggies are typically harvested in the fall and last throughout the winter when correctly collected and stored.
Denser and sweeter with a firmer texture than summer squash varieties, winter squashes are adaptable in many recipes and feature in everything from soups and casseroles to desserts.
Winter squash fruits are harvested at the end of the growing season after a long maturation period. They last for several months if kept at room temperature in a dry setting. These squash are naturally low in calories and fat, with a mild flavor. Their bright flesh adds a pop of color, and their mild flavor makes them a classic favorite that pairs well with many seasonings.
Different Types of Squash to Try – Summer Squash
Farmer’s markets are often packed with displays of vibrantly colored squashes, many of which are summer squash. These colorful squashes are harvested while still immature, so their skin is tender. Unlike many vining winter squashes, summer squashes tend to have bushy growth habits, making them more suitable for smaller gardens.
Though each variety offers a slightly different appearance and flavor profile, the summer squashes generally have thin skin and mildly nutty sweet flesh. Summer squash varieties are sown in spring once the danger of frost is over. These plants love warm weather and thrive when planted after the soil temperature has reached 70°F.
If you have an abundant crop or get a great deal at the store, learn the best way to store any squash in the fridge or freezer to eat now or later.
Squash is a must-have for every raised bed or garden patch for home growing, but many gardeners are unsure about the various varieties available. Winter squashes are perfect for soups, and vivid-colored summer squashes have so many cooking applications.
Pumpkins are useful inside and outside the kitchen and are especially cherished during Halloween. Squash and pumpkins are necessary ingredients in recipes for dishes like spaghetti squash pasta, pumpkin pie, and soups. They also add numerous delightful flavors to the kitchen.
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