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Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo

In Our Garden

Squash are part of the cucurbit family, which includes melons, winter squash and summer squash. Most members of the cucurbit family produce a type of berry called a pepo which is a mass of tissue filled with seeds and covered by a protective rind.

Dark Star Zucchini
Cucurbita pepo
An exciting new zucchini begun as a cross between a popular hybrid and an heirloom variety over 10 years ago. Dark Star was co-developed with California grower Bill Reynolds. It produces medium to dark green, glossy, slightly ridged fruit from an open plant habit, smooth and spineless. A long harvest period reflects its exceptional vigor.

Yellow Crookneck
Cucurbita pepo
8-9 in.
Easy-to-grow, bush, yellow summer squash has been a favorite for over 150 years. Abundant producer of yellow-skinned, white-fleshed summer squash that are delicious lightly steamed.

In History

Squash comes from a Narragansett Indian word meaning “a green thing eaten raw.”

Squash originated in the Americas and are believed to have been cultivated for five to ten thousand years. They were originally gathered for their seeds and were later found to have sweet flesh.

In the seventeenth century they were mashed to bulk up bread, or boiled and heavily buttered.


Growing Tips:
Summer squash are sweetest when picked young and kept for a few weeks at 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Harvesting Tips:
Seed or transplants can be planted through black plastic. Cover seed with one inch of soil.

Under good growing conditions, fruits are ready for first harvest 50 to 65 days after seeds are planted. Zucchini-types should be harvested when immature, about 6 to 8 inches long and 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter; patty-pan types, when 3 to 4 inches in diameter; yellow crookneck, when 4 to 7 inches long. If the squash rind is too hard to be marked by a thumbnail, it is too old. Remove old fruit to allow new fruit to develop. Check plants daily once they begin to bear.

Why It's Good for You

Squash are high in beta carotene and folic acid, and also have moderate amounts of Vitamin C.

Did You Know

In addition to eating the flesh of these fruits, their vines and flowers are also edible.

Fruits of Cucurbita maxima, commonly known as Hubbard squashes, as well as other winter squashes can reach up to 300 lbs., and are the largest fruits of any plant.

Let's Eat

How to Store:
All squash are native of warm climates and suffer from chill injury if stored at standard refrigerator temperatures.


Pest Management

  • Aphids
    Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish; however, identification to species is not necessary to control them in most situations.
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  • Armyworms
    Armyworm larvae feed in groups, which distinguishes them from other vegetable pests such as corn earworms and loopers. Markings on newly hatched armyworms are usually hard to distinguish from those of other caterpillars; older larvae have distinct lengthwise stripes. The surface of the armyworm skin is smooth.
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  • Crickets
    Adult crickets are shiny black or brown, 0.6 - 1 inch long, with long antennae. Crickets are nocturnal and require shelter during the day.
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  • Cucumber beetles
    Adult beetles are shiny with black heads, long antennae, and about 0.25 inch long. Larvae are whitish and slender with three pairs of short legs; the head and tip of the abdomen are darker. Adults may be striped or spotted, depending upon species.
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  • Cutworms
    Cutworms are dull brown caterpillars that curl into a C-shape when disturbed. Normally they are found on or just below the soil surface or on lower parts of plants and are commonly active at night. They are smooth skinned and have various markings.
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  • Darkling beetles
    Darkling beetles are dull bluish black or brown. They never have color patterns on the back. In most species, the segments at the tip of the antenna are slightly larger than segments at the base. Darkling beetles are found throughout California.
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  • Driedfruit beetles
    Adults are small brown or black beetles with or without lighter spots on the wings. They range in size from 0.1 to 0.2 inch long and have clubbed antennae.
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  • Earwigs
    Earwigs are among the most readily recognized insect pests in home gardens. Although they can devastate seedling vegetables or annual flowers and often seriously damage maturing soft fruit or corn silks, they also have a beneficial role in the landscape and have been shown to be important predators of aphids. Although several species occur, the most common in California gardens is the European earwig, Forficula auricularia, which was accidentally introduced into North America from Europe in the early 1900s. The striped earwig, Labidura riparia, occurs in southern California and can annoy residents when it is attracted to lights. It has a very disagreeable odor when crushed. However, the striped earwig does not damage plants.
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  • Flea beetles
    Flea beetles are small, shiny beetles with black legs enlarged for jumping.
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  • Grasshoppers
    Grasshoppers are sporadic pests in gardens. However, in some years large populations may build up in foothills and rangelands, especially after a wet spring and then migrate into nearby gardens, often defoliating everything in sight. Over 200 species of grasshoppers occur in California, but only a few of these cause significant problems in gardens. The devastating grasshopper, Melanoplus devastator, and the valley grasshopper, Oedaleonotus enigma, are the most widespread and destructive.
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  • Leafhoppers
    Leafhoppers are small slender insects that disperse rapidly when disturbed. They run sideways and are good jumpers. They are wedge shaped, less than 0.25 inch long as adults, and generally are varying shades of green, yellow, or brown, and often mottled.
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  • Leafminers
    Leafminer adults are small black and yellow flies. Larvae are yellowish maggots that feed beneath the leaf surface.
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  • Loopers
    Loopers are green with several white stripes down their backs. They arch their backs as they crawl, this looping movement giving them their name. The most common looper is the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni.
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  • Nematodes
    Nematodes are microscopic, eel-like roundworms. The most troublesome species in the garden are those that live and feed within plant roots most of their lives and those that live freely in the soil and feed on plant roots. Although there are many different species of root-feeding nematodes in California, the most important in gardens are the root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne species). Root knot nematodes attack a wide range of plants, including many common vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamentals. They are difficult to control and can be spread easily from garden to garden in soil (for example, on tools, boots, etc.) and plant parts. A number of other nematode species may also damage home garden and landscape plants, including the citrus nematode (Tylenchulus semipenetrans), the ring nematode (Criconemoides xenoplax), root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.), the stem and bulb nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci), the sugarbeet cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii), and others. Table 1 lists some common garden plant species and their nematode pests.
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  • Seedcorn maggots
    Seedcorn maggot larvae are small, legless, white maggots usually less than 0.33 inch when full grown; the head end is pointed and the rear is blunt. Adults are dark gray flies about half the size of the common housefly.
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  • Snails and Slugs
    Snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations. The brown garden snail (Helix aspersa) is the most common snail causing problems in California gardens; it was introduced from France during the 1850s for use as food.
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  • Spider mites
    Mites are common pests in landscapes and gardens and can be found feeding on many fruit trees, vines, berries, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Although related to insects, mites are not insects but members of the arachnid class along with spiders and ticks. The spider mites, also called webspinning mites, are the most common mite pests and among the most ubiquitous of all pests in the garden and farm.
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  • Squash bugs
    Adult squash bugs are 0.63 inch long, grayish or yellowish brown, flatbacked, and somewhat speckled, often with a dense covering of black hairs. Edges of the abdomen are orange or orange and brown striped. Nymphs are pale green to almost white.
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  • Stink bugs
    Stink bugs are shield-shaped bugs with a large scutellum or triangle on their backs. Most bugs are brown or green with red, pink, or yellow markings.
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  • Thrips
    Thrips, order Thysanoptera, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing their host and sucking out the cell contents. Certain thrips species are beneficial predators that feed only on mites and other insects. Beneficial species include black hunter thrips and the sixspotted thrips. Pest species (often in the family Thripidae) are plant feeders that scar leaf, flower, or fruit surfaces or distort plant parts. Other species of thrips feed on fungal spores and pollen and are innocuous.
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  • Whiteflies
    Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are frequently abundant in vegetable and ornamental plantings. They excrete sticky honeydew and cause yellowing or death of leaves. Outbreaks often occur when the natural biological control is disrupted. Management is difficult.
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  • Wireworms
    Wireworm larvae are slender, cylindrical insects. They are usually yellowish and resemble mealworms. They have six short legs close together near the head. Adults are click beetles; they do not weaken older plants.
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