Summer Squash Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow

Squash zucchini on plantNeed top-choice, sure-bet, best-pick, easy-to-grow summer squash varieties?

Here are 15 top-performers for the home garden divided into the 3 most popular summer squash types: (1) scallop or patty pan, (2) yellow straight or crook neck, and (3) zucchini.

Keep reading to the bottom of this post and I will give you my tips for sure-fired summer squash growing success.

Best Bets: Scallop-type squashes (also called patty pan):

Peter Pan Hybrid. 50 days. AAS winner. Meaty flesh, excellent flavor and quality. Uniform size, well scalloped, 2½ to 3 inches across; light green skin, pale green flesh; very productive, bush-type vine. Hybrid.

Sunburst. 52 days. AAS winner. Delicate, buttery flavor. Deep scallop shape with medium fluting; soft, bright-yellow skin with a dark green “sunburst” pattern; tender creamy white flesh. Pick as a baby squash with blossom still attached. Compact grower spreads to 2½ feet. Hybrid.

Scallopini. 52 days. AAS-winner. Meaty, sweet and nut-like flavor. Deep scalloped fruit with medium fluting 2½ to 3 inches across; dark green skin, pale green flesh. Compact vine, very productive over a long season; easy to grow. Hybrid.

Early White Bush. 55 days. Tender and succulent. Deep scallop shape, 2½ to 3 deep, 5 to 7 inches in diameter; pale green to nearly white skin when ripe; milky white flesh. Compact bush-like vine, very productive; popular for home garden. Open pollinated.

Best Bets: Yellow Straight- and Crook-necked Squashes

Early Prolific Straighneck. 55 days. AAS winner. Excellent flavor. Uniform, lemon yellow, club-shaped, lightly-warted fruits. Best when 4 to 7 inches long; fine-grained flesh. Good grower in the north. Hybrid.

Sundance. 52 days. Creamy flesh, very good flavor. Bright yellow skin; curved club-shaped fruit with medium thick neck that does not break easily; firm creamy white flesh. Compact, bush-like plant. Good choice for home gardens. Hybrid.

• Early Golden Summer Crookneck also called Yellow Crookneck. 55 days. Mild flavor. Distinct, club-shaped fruit, bulbous as the blossom end, 8 to 9 inches long; golden yellow, warted skin; pale-yellowish flesh. Freezes well. Moderately vigorous bush-like plant, very productive. Growing in home gardens since 1828. Open-pollinated.

Dixie. 45 days. Delicious, tender flesh. Shiny lemon-yellow small crooked neck. Best taste when picked 4 to 6 inches long, right after the blossom falls from fruit, tender flesh. Compact grower. Very productive. Hybrid.

Best Bets: Zucchini types.

Aristocrat. 53 days. AAS winner. Good flavor. Slender fruit to 8 inches long; dark green waxy skin. Very good yield. Adaptable grower. Hybrid.

Ambassador. 51 days. Crisp, tender flesh. Dark green skin with gold flecks, 7- to 8-inches long; white flesh. Compact bush type. High yield. Hybrid.

Black Zucchini. 50 day. Tender and flavorful. Straight cylindrical fruit with slight ridges grows to 9 inches long. Best picked at 6 inches. Glossy blackish-green skin; greenish-white flesh is firm but tender. Upright growth. High yields. Open-pollinated.

Burpee Fordhook. 57 days. AAS winner. Creamy flavor. Long cylindrical fruit, straight with slight curve; smooth, deep blackish-green skin; creamy white flesh; creamy white flesh. Produces more male flowers than most other summer squash. Freezes well. Best when 8 to 12 inches long. Vigorous bush-like plant. Open-pollinated.

Cocozelle. 55 days. Very flavorful. Long slender nearly cylindrical fruit, slightly larger at the blossom end; ribbed pale greenish-white skin, prominent dark green stripes; firm greenish-white flesh. Harvest when 6 to 8 inches long. Bush-type plant. Open-pollinated.

Gold Rush. 52 days. AAS winner. Very flavorful. Uniform straight fruit 7 to 8 inches long; deep golden yellow skin with contrasting rich green stems; creamy white flesh. Single-stemmed plant, very production. Excellent for home garden. Hybrid.

Greyzini. 55 days. AAS winner. Tender fruit. Grayish-green, mottled fruit, with faint stripes; grows to 6-inches long. Early harvest. Compact growth. High yield high. Hybrid.

Trombocini or Zucchetta rampicante. 50 days. Sweet, delicious, mild flavor. Long slender fruit curved at the stem end, bulbous at the blossom end; light yellow-green skin; firm flesh very firm. Harvest at 8- to 18-inches long. Vining plant up to 30 feet. Open-pollinated.

Summer Squash Growing Tips.

Squash growing success will come with a few simple growing strategies:

Plant several squash plants to ensure at least one is successful and survives pests and diseases. Stagger plantings or plant seed and transplants at the same time for continuous harvest.

Give squash the space recommended. Check spacing requirements for each variety you grow. If the garden is tight, contain the plant by pinching out the growing tips after a vine has set a few fruits. Don’t grow squash too close together; this will help deter pests and diseases.

Pick summer squashes when they are young and tender. Let winter squashes and pumpkins mature until their rinds are dull and hard. Pick and toss any fruit that is discolored or rotting before other plants or fruits are affected.

Time to plant. Sow squash or set out transplants about 2 weeks after the last expected frost in spring. Sow or plant successive crops 4 weeks later.

How to plant. Sow seed or set transplants in raised mounds at least 1 foot across. Place a generous amount of aged-compost or aged-manure into each planting hill before planting. For extra early harvest, start seeds in peat pots indoors 3 weeks before the last frost for planting out after the last frost.

Squash plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Bees must transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female. Don’t use insecticides in the garden or you will risk killing off your pollinators. If you don’t have bees, you can hand transfer pollen with a small artist’s paintbrush.

Outwit pests. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and squash vine borers must be controlled to successfully grow squash. Place floating row covers over young squash plants until they start to bloom. This will exclude attacking insects until plants are strong enough to withstand pest damage.

Train plants up stakes or trellises. Training summer squash up stakes or trellises will increase air circulation and keep plants off the ground and clean and away from pests and diseases.

Harvest. Summer squash requires 50 to 65 days to reach harvest. Zucchini types will be best harvested immature, about 6 to 8 inches long and 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. Harvest patty pans when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Harvest yellow crookneck when 4 to 7 inches long. If summer squash rind gets hard, it is too old to use. Remove old fruits to allow new fruits to develop.

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