How to Grow Squash in Containers
Growing squash in containers is a great way to make vegetable gardening easier. There are several good reasons to grow squash in containers. For example, they can be moved into frost-free areas to extend the harvest period. Containers can be placed where they are easily accessible and easy to harvest. It is also easier to check water saturation in a container than in an outdoor garden. It is simply a very convenient solution for getting home-grown squash. Below are some steps to assure successful planting and growth of squash in containers.
Step 1 - Choose and Prepare Containers
Start with a new pot at least 12 inches high and wide. Half barrels are also good for planting squash, but always make sure there is drainage at the bottom through one or more drainage holes.
If you want to use a pot that has been used before, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned with soap and water, rinsed, and sprayed with a bleach-water mixture (seven parts water to one part bleach) to sterilize it.
Check the plant growth information to see whether the specific squash type you've chosen is bush type or vining. Vining squash plants will need to be staked. You can use a tomato cage, trellis, or sticks in a teepee shape depending on where the container is placed, the shape you prefer, and what materials you have available.
Step 2 - Choose the Right Soil and Plant the Squash
Use good-quality, well-aerated, and good-draining potting soil with lots of organic matter. Fill the container 3/4 full with with the soil if you are planting a young plant, or within one to two inches of the top if you are planting seeds. If you are staking your squash, place the stakes after you fill the pot with soil and before planting. You will generally want only one plant per pot depending on the growth pattern of the squash.
For a squash plant, place the plant close to the stake and fill in the potting soil around it. Water thoroughly and slowly. Then, after the soil settles, add more to fill the container within 3/4-inch of the top, press it down around the plant to settle it, and water again.
For seeds, press five to six seeds in the center of the pot and cover with 1/2-inch of soil mix. Water thoroughly and deeply. After the seeds sprout, cut back to two plants. When the remaining plants are eight to 10 inches high, carefully pull out and transplant one of them to a new container.
Step 3 - Find the Right Location in Your Garden
Squash need eight hours of sunlight a day and it needs to be planted after the danger of frost is past so the soil can be kept warm. It also needs to be protected from wind. Find a place in your garden that meets these requirements and where the container or containers are also easy to get to for maintenance and harvesting.
Step 4 - Container Watering and Maintenance
Water often enough so that the soil in the container stays moist but not soggy. Check the plants and soil regularly so you can water them again if the dirt is beginning to dry out too much. Remember that clay pots dry out more quickly than plastic pots.
As the squash blossoms and grows, fertilize the plant weekly with a water-soluble or granular fertilizer made for vegetables.