How Do You Store Winter and Summer Squash?

How Do You Store Winter and Summer Squash?

“On storing squash for winter where is the best place to store a rather large abundance of fresh zucchini, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash.” Question from Jennifer of Wataga, Illinois

Answer: Summer and winter squashes are stored very differently. Tender zucchini and summer squash have a relatively short shelf life of a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, and they freeze fairly well but freeze even better as tasty baked goods. That’s why many gardeners bake and freeze zucchini bread and zucchini chocolate chip muffins, among other yummy treats. If you want to try freezing zucchini: wash, blanch, ice, and then freeze it in proper storage bags. (Click here for the steps.) Zucchini can also be made into relish for canning.

Storing Winter Squash

Tough-rinded winter squashes, like butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash, and pumpkins will often store well for months in a cool, dry place. Dry basements or cool mudrooms are perfect. You can also refrigerate them if you have space. Sometimes, I will process my pumpkins for pie and soup and freeze the frozen mash. This is another option. (Click here to learn how to cook pumpkins for mash and pie.)

I hope that these tips help!

Happy fall,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist



Can You Grow Squash in Containers?

Can You Grow Squash in Containers?

“Is it possible to grow squash in a container?” Question from Anne Marie of Napa, California

Answer: Bush squashes grow beautifully in large containers. In fact, I plan to plant a few in my garden this year. The key is making sure that you choose a compact, bush-forming variety. You can find bush zucchini, summer squash, pumpkins, and winter squash. I plant mine in containers that are at least 24-inches across and 12 to 18 inches deep. Here are my top varieties for container growing.

Favorite Bush Squash for Containers

  1. Sunburst Scallop Summer Squash: Sunburst is a garden mainstay for me and is great to harvest at the baby stage. It is short-vined and produces lots of tasty yellow pattypan squash.
  2. Astia Container Zucchini: These tiny little zucchini plants were bred for container growing, and they are very tasty.
  3. Wee-B-Little Pumpkins: Tiny Wee-B-Little pumpkins grow on very short vines that take well to container growing.
  4. Honeybear Acorn Squash: Also on short, semi-bush vines, this AAS award-winning winter squash grows well in containers and is very sweet.
  5. Max’s Gold Summer Squash: Here’s a classic golden summer squash that has few seeds, great flavor, and grows on compact bushes.

Squashes need full sun. I recommend planting yours in either Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix or Black Gold® Natural & Organic Flower and Vegetable Soil. Both are OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Plant two seeds in the center of each pot, about 1 to 2 inches down, and keep the seeds lightly watered until they sprout. Keep the most vigorous of the seedlings once it has started developing its true leaves–pluck out the other. Fertilize with a plant food formulated for vegetable growing once they begin to actively grow and keep the pot lightly moist. Never let it dry out severely.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

Should I Trellis or Stake My Zucchini?

“Should zucchini be staked up?” Question from Rhonda of Opelousas, Louisiana

Answer: If you have space, you can let vining zucchini ramble on the ground, and they will produce and perform beautifully. They can ramble as far as 6-10 feet, though, so space is essential. Training them up a strong trellis is another option, which will save space and make harvest easier. But, if you lack space and prefer a tidier garden, I recommend planting bush zucchini. These reach just 3 to 4 feet across, depending on the variety.

Best Bush Zucchini Varieties

I love bush zucchini and have grown quite a few that I really liked. Here are my three favorites.

Astia‘: The plants are so compact that they are good for container gardening, and zucchini production is good.

‘Eight Ball’: Lots of cute, round, flavorful zucchinis are produced on small, bush-sized plants.

‘Green Machine’: If you are looking for classic, green zucchini on small, very disease-resistant plants then this is the variety for you. It is very fast-yielding, producing from just 45 to 50 days after planting, and it is very reliable.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy zucchini growing,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Help Me Grow Zucchini Better!

“I can never seem to grow zucchini right. Is there a type of soil that would be best for this?” Question from Amy of Oil City, Pennsylvania

Answer: We have gotten this question a lot, both with respect to zucchini and summer squash (both are the same–one is just green and elongated.).  I have provided links to several of these Ask a Garden Expert answers. But, to directly answer your question with respect to soil, provide your zucchini with soil that is well-drained and rich in organic matter. It grows best in a near-neutral pH and requires a fertilizer for fruiting vegetables.  You will also need to grow it in full, all-day sunshine.

Ask a Garden Expert Answers For Zucchini and Summer Squash Growing

Help! My Zucchini is Not Fruiting

Why Aren’t My Squash Bearing Fruit and Do They Have Borers?

Beating Squash Vine Borers

I hope that these resources are helpful to you! If you read them all, you will have all of the information that you need to grow excellent zucchini.

Happy Gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

How Do I Get Rid of Squash Bugs?

“How do you get rid of squash bugs?” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi

Answer: Surely these are some of the most annoying and destructive of all summer vegetable garden pests. To manage squash bugs (Anasa tristis), you need to understand their life cycle.

Squash Bug Life Cycle

These true bugs attack squash and relatives, like cucumbers, pumpkins, and zucchini. They spend their winters sheltering under garden debris, leaves, rocks, and logs. Sometimes they even enter homes for refuge.  When spring weather warms, they seek out squash plants, mate, and lay eggs on developing squash plants. The clusters of brownish-orange eggs hatch in just 5 to 10 days. Bug nymphs emerge and develop into adult squash bugs that suck the juices from squash stems, leaves, flowers and developing fruits. Badly infested plants will show signs of wilt and have poor fruit output and development.

Squash Bug Management

Squash bug eggs are brown to brownish-red.

The first thing you can do to protect your garden is to remove all infested plant material from your beds in fall. Good garden sanitation will destroy winter cover for these bugs, which will decrease their populations during the cold season. In spring, keep a lookout for their eggs. If you see any on leaves or stems, scrape them off immediately and smash them. Once you begin to see adults, remove them by hand or spray them with an OMRI Listed insecticidal spray approved for organic gardening, like insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil. [Click here to read more about using horticultural oils.]

It also pays to plant squash-bug-resistant varieties, which include most butternut varieties, ‘Early Summer Crookneck,’ ‘Improved Green Hubbard,’ ‘Royal Acorn‘, and ‘Zucchetta Tromboncino’.

I hope this helps! Happy gardening.

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist