Site and Soil
Cucurbits grow best in full sun sites with good air circulation and prefers soil that is moist, well drained, fertile and rich in organic matter. The soil's pH should range from 5.5 to 6.8. Lime and fertilizer rates of application should be based on periodic soil tests. Natural fertilizers such as compost and manures, and slow-release commercial fertilizers along with limestone are effective when tilled into soil before planting time.
There are many varieties of cucumbers and squash with great variation in shape, size, color, taste and texture. These plants are herbaceous (non-woody) annuals. Summer squashes are harvested as immature fruit, while winter squashes are harvested as mature fruit.
Varieties of Cucurbits Suitable for Growing in Connecticut
|Pickling cucumbers||Alibi, Calypso (res. to PM), County Fair (res. to bacterial wilt),Cross Country, Little Leaf-19 (less attractive to Cucumber beetles)|
|Slicing cucumbers||County Fair (res. to bacterial wilt), Dasher II (res. to PM), Diva, General Lee, Marketmore 76 (res. to PM)|
|Bush Scallop||Peter Pan, White Ruffles, Sunburst|
|Spaghetti||Orangetti, Vegetable Spaghetti,Tivoli (bush-type)|
|Summer Green||Seneca Zucchini, Zucchini Elite, Cocozells Bush, Ambassador, Milano,
A and C Zucchini improved
|Summer Yellow||Early Prolific Straight neck, Seneca Prolific, Sundance,
Dixie, Goldrush, Multipik
|Winter||Waltham Butternut, Buttercup, Bush Buttercup, Gold Delicious,
Table Queen, Cream of the Crop, Blue Hubbard,
Cucurbits are warm season crops that must be planted after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed.
They grow best at temperatures between 65ºF to 75ºF. Seeds germinate poorly at low soil temperatures, therefore, wait until the soil is 60ºF before planting. Plant seeds one inch deep and 12 inches apart in rows 40 inches apart, or plant several seeds in hills that are three feet apart. Thin plants in rows so they are two to three feet apart and thin plants in hills to two or three plants per hill. For vine-type squash, thin plants four to six feet apart.
It is important to control the weeds through frequent shallow cultivation and/or with the use of mulches. A black plastic mulch stops all weed growth and can help in warming the soil. If using an organic mulch, wait until early July before laying it down to allow the ground to warm. Cultivate all the weeds before applying the mulch. Desirable materials include straw, saltmarsh hay or sawdust. Hay should be avoided because it may contain weed seeds.
Avoid using fresh lawn clippings or clippings from a lawn that was treated with an herbicide within the last six weeks.
Cucumbers and squash require a plentiful supply of water. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season. If it does not rain, an application of an inch of water per week will be enough.
Cucumber plants may be monoecious with male and female flowers on the same plant, gynoecious, with predominately female flowers (a few monoecious seeds may be included for pollination), or parthenocarpic which do not require pollination for fruit to set. Squash plants are monoecious, having male and female flowers on the same plant. Male blossoms appear first on a long stalk which often lifts the flower above the foliage. The female flowers are on a short stalk that resembles a small fruit. Squash requires cross-pollination, which is done mainly by bees or other insects.
Different varieties of squash will cross-pollinate, so do not save seed if different varieties are grown in the same area and flower at the same time. Cross-pollination will not affect the look or taste of this year's fruit. It can affect the look and taste of the squash grown from the seed of the cross-pollinated plants.
Bush varieties are excellent choices for gardeners with small plots. Most of the summer squash are bush varieties.
Harvest cucumbers and summer squash throughout the growing season, while winter squash is harvested at one time.
Pick summer squash with elongated fruits when they are less than three inches in diameter and up to eight inches long. Scallop squashes are harvested at three to four inches in diameter. Winter squash should be picked when mature and fruits have hard rinds.
Insects, Diseases and Other pests
Cucurbit plants are subject to insect pests, mites and diseases. Their damage can be reduced by taking some preventive measures such as planting disease-free seed or transplants, selecting disease-resistant varieties, removing and destroying all diseased plants, controlling weeds properly, using crop rotation and keeping the garden and nearby area free of debris.
Angular Leaf Spot Angular, water-soaked spots 1/8" to 1/4" across.
Later spots dry up and drop out of leaf.
Anthracnose Angular black spots 1/4" to 1/2" across on foliage.
On fruit, sunken spots, pink at first, later turning black.
Downy Mildew Yellow, angular spots within vein margins on
upper sides of leaves. Grayish-purple fungus
growth on underside of leaves.
Powdery Mildew Powdery gray-white growth on leaves and petioles.
Premature defoliation often occurs.
Bacterial Wilt Individual leaves wilt and turn dull green.
Gradually the entire plant wilts and dies.
Cucumber Beetle Beetle 1/5" long, yellow, three black strips down back.
Generally appear at the end of May.
Adults overwinter in debris in or near the garden.
Transmits wilt disease.
Squash Vine Borer White larvae of a clear-winged moth bore into stems
of pumpkins and squash. Overwinters as a pupa in
the soil, emerging in late June.
Squash Bug Adults are flat, brown with orange on the abdomen,
about 3/4" long. Young are gray with black legs.
Eggs are brownish and in patches on stems
and underside of leaves.
Squash Beetle A copper-colored 14-spotted lady beetle, the larvae feed
on the underside of the leaf, the adults on the top of the
leaf and the rind of the fruit.
Melon Aphid Small, greenish-yellow to black insects found on
new growth and underside of leaf.
Spider Mites Very small, yellow or reddish mites.
Yellowish spots on foliage. Webs may be seen.
Please contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center for control suggestions.
Despite good cultural practices, pests and diseases at times may appear. Chemical control should be used only after all other methods have failed.
All images ©UConn H & G
Revised by the UConn Home and Garden Education Center, 2016
The information in this material is for educational purposes. The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of printing. Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension system does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available. All agrochemicals/pesticides listed are registered for suggested uses in accordance with federal and Connecticut state laws and regulations as of the date of printing. If the information does not agree with current labeling, follow the label instructions. The label is the law. Warning! Agrochemicals/pesticides are dangerous. Read and follow all instructions and safety precautions on labels. Carefully handle and store agrochemicals/pesticides in originally labeled containers immediately in a safe manner and place. Contact the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for current regulations. The user of this information assumes all risks for personal injury or property damage .Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gregory J. Weidemann, Director, Cooperative Extension System, University of Connecticut, Storrs. The Connecticut Cooperative Extension System offers its programs to persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.