Ideas for Rising Crookneck Squash

Cucurbita pepo

Whereas I didn’t turn out to be a dedicated vegetable gardener myself till my late 20s, my introduction to the thrill of rising one’s personal meals got here a decade earlier within the type of a brown grocery bag of delectable crookneck squash.

A close up vertical image of a big pile of yellow crookneck squash. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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In my small hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia, only some households tended big vegetable beds. My circle of relatives solely went as far as to plant a lone parsley or tomato plant on occasion.

However my pal Teri’s dad, Tilman Sandy, hailed from agrarian Appalachia and had a large plot of veggies proper subsequent to his suburban garden.

One summer season morning, Teri and I had been setting off on a weekend journey to my household’s seaside bungalow, and he or she confirmed up with a sack of four-inch, bumpy-skinned, shiny yellow crookneck squash, recent from the backyard. And a stick of margarine!

We feasted on nutty, tender, steamed squash slathered with melted “butter” that entire weekend – my introduction to being sustained by the meals you develop your self.

These days, I plant not less than 4 forms of summer season squash every year. I at all times plant not less than a few crookneck squash, and never only for nostalgia.

The prolific bush-type vegetation produce a few of the most tender summer season fruits recognized to man. And so they really style like summer season, too.

The yellow coloration additionally enhances purple tomatoes in summer season gratins or facet dishes, and the bulge on the backside lends itself to stuffing.

Better of all, crookneck squash grows shortly and produces mightily.

Should you haven’t grown this sort, otherwise you haven’t shortly, I’d wish to be the one to introduce you to the thrill of planting, selecting, and consuming these beautiful, curved yellow summer season squash this season.

Right here’s what I’ll cowl:

Cultivation and Historical past

Crookneck squash is each a contemporary favourite and an old-school selection for Twenty first-century gardeners.

I’m speaking the wayback days, although, not simply when your grandpa or the girl down the road grew it within the Seventies.

A close up vertical image of yellow crookneck squash growing in the garden.

All forms of squash we develop at the moment may be traced again not less than 12,000 years to seeds found in caves in Ecuador, the place the vegetation grew wild.

Curcubita pepo is one in all 5 species of squash domesticated within the ensuing millennia.

It’s a various species that features acorn squash, straight neck, zucchini, and cocozelle, along with crookneck.

The crookneck kind might have originated in New Jersey, grown by the Lenape folks effectively forward of European colonization.

A close up horizontal image of a crookneck squash plant with fruit ripening in the garden.

Although they’re additionally curvy forms of squash, you shouldn’t combine up C. pepo crooknecks with their distant cousins, the “crooked neck” C. moschata varieties. These embrace cushaw and the vining tromboncino.

Whereas these two are additionally scrumptious, it’s essential to make the excellence as a result of C. moschata rising habits and harvest schedules are barely completely different from these of C. pepo.

Crookneck cultivars have been obtainable to the house gardener for many years, with the ‘Early Summer time’ selection showing in seed catalogs in 1923.

Each hybrid alternatives and improved heirlooms provide elevated illness resistance and higher yields for the modern-day veggie gardener.

I’ll discuss just a few of them in a minute. However first, let’s dive into how you can sow and develop this scrumptious, prolific cucurbit.


If you wish to spend lower than you’ll on begins from the nursery whereas getting access to the best variety of completely different kinds of crookneck squash, plan to develop them from seed.

Wait till all hazard of frost has handed and nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55°F earlier than sowing.

Domesticate the soil to a depth of not less than 10 inches and amend it with loads of composted natural matter.

Sow particular person seeds an inch deep and 18 inches aside in rows two toes aside.

Tamp the soil over the seeds utilizing a hoe or the heel of your hand, and water them totally utilizing the effective spray nozzle on your backyard hose or with a watering can.

Hold the soil moist however not moist till they sprout in seven to 10 days.

You can even sow the seeds indoors about three weeks earlier than planting them outdoors. It is a good thought for gardeners with a brief rising season.

But when that’s not your scenario, you threat disturbing the roots whenever you transplant, so I wouldn’t essentially encourage indoor summer season squash begins.

Should you do choose to begin seeds indoors, try our information for step-by-step directions.

For crooknecks, plant the seedlings in biodegradable pots so you’ll be able to slip them into their everlasting dwelling with out uprooting them.

You might also be capable to purchase transplants. Should you’re apprehensive the season will conclude earlier than you’ll be able to harvest, spending somewhat extra for transplants might make sense – if you’ll find them.

If you store for crookneck begins in particular person, be sure that to pick these which can be a wholesome inexperienced coloration and freed from spots or useless leaves that may point out illness or issues with pests.

Keep away from any which can be already in bloom since they’re extra prone to transplant shock. Additionally, select the type bought in peat pots that go straight into the soil.

When you’re dwelling, water the begins totally and allow them to drain fully earlier than tipping any outer, non-biodegradable container on its facet to ease the small crookneck squash vegetation out. Attempt to maintain the basis ball intact.

Ideally, you’ll solely be eradicating the outer rim of plastic from a peat pot, which received’t damage the roots. If the transplants got here in plastic cells, be mild whenever you take them out.

Transplant to an space of the backyard the place they are going to be spaced at 18 inches aside. Dig a gap for every deep sufficient so the plant shall be on the identical stage it was in its pot.

Maintain the seedling or transplant regular whilst you backfill with well-draining loam amended with loads of natural matter, and water the transplants in.

The best way to Develop

Should you’re systematic and constant, rising a bumper crop of crookneck squash is pretty straightforward. Right here’s how you can proceed:


Develop your squash vegetation in a backyard or raised mattress the place they’ll obtain full solar with safety from sturdy winds. It is a bush selection, so it received’t want a trellis or different helps.

A close up horizontal image of a crookneck squash plant with a few ripening fruits.

To avoid soilborne pathogens that may reside on within the grime for a 12 months or extra, select a location the place you haven’t grown any cucurbits for a 12 months or two. This consists of melons, winter squash, and cucumbers, in addition to different forms of summer season squash.

When potential, begin amending the soil the autumn earlier than a late spring planting.

Begin by working grass clippings, dry leaves, and composted natural materials into the highest couple of inches of the soil the place you’ll plant.

If you will get a head begin the 12 months earlier than, contemplate enriching the soil with a winter cowl crop or “inexperienced manure” too.

Our cowl crop information for dwelling gardeners provides nice recommendation on utilizing this straightforward choice to construct wealthy soil for heavy feeders like crookneck squash.

Gardeners who’re getting ready the earth simply forward of planting will nonetheless need to amend with natural matter, however it should should be aged already. Compost that hasn’t damaged down fully, whether or not manure or vegetable matter, can burn roots with its excessive ammonia content material, for instance.

If I didn’t have time to amend the soil the earlier autumn, I wish to work an inch or two of one thing like Gardener’s Gold industrial compost into the backyard mattress.

It’s bought in baggage and derived from plant matter like leaves and grass which have decomposed for not less than two years.

This modification improves soil construction, aeration, and water and nutrient absorption.

A square image of a bag of Gardener's Gold Premium Compost set on the ground in a garden border.

Gardener’s Gold Premium Compost

Gardens Alive! Gardener’s Gold premium bagged compost is offered in 16-quart baggage by way of House Depot.

Whether or not you’re beginning a season forward or addressing soil well being as you go, attempt for soil with a pH that’s barely acidic to impartial. Crookneck squash prefers a pH vary of 6.0 to 7.5.

You’ll be able to use a equipment to check the soil, however observe that it’s going to take a number of months to regulate the pH utilizing components like agricultural lime, as a result of they break down slowly.

If the spot the place you intend to plant doesn’t have an appropriate pH, contemplate rising in a raised mattress backyard you’ll be able to fill with potting soil.


Should you’re opting to plant crookneck squash in containers, be sure that to decide on a pot that’s giant sufficient.

Every of those bushy cucurbits will want its personal pot that holds not less than 5 gallons of rising combine. The container must also be not less than 12 inches in diameter, although 16 is best.

Bear in mind, that a lot soil can get fairly heavy, so plan to relaxation the pot on a stand with wheels on a stage floor so you’ll be able to roll it round as wanted, or place it in its everlasting location earlier than it’s stuffed.

I like the thought of resting the heavy container on a children’ wagon I can pull round to a brand new spot as wanted as soon as the season is underway.

This provides me choices if I see my container crooknecks aren’t getting sufficient solar. It’s additionally helpful if I would like them nearer to the water barrel throughout extended durations of sizzling and/or dry climate.

You’ll additionally need to select a kind of pot that retains moisture – plastic or metallic, for instance, not unglazed terra cotta.

It’s troublesome sufficient to maintain squash vegetation watered in summer season with out compensating for pots that dry out too shortly.


When the seeds are germinating and whereas the seedlings are nonetheless just a few weeks previous, you’ll must maintain the soil they’re rising in damp however not moist.

A close up horizontal image of a small crookneck squash fruit growing on the plant.

Older vegetation require deep watering, so the roots received’t develop towards the floor looking for moisture.

Plan to measure your native rainfall and complement as wanted, so the vegetation obtain about two inches per week in the summertime months.

At all times water on the soil line, not above the leaves, to keep away from a buildup of moisture that may result in fungal points.

Should you reside in an space with sizzling summers, think about using soaker hoses or drip irrigation to your crookneck squash vegetation.


These thirsty vegetation will admire a layer of straw or paper mulch utilized to retain moisture as soon as they’ve two units of true leaves.

Watch out to not use industrial mulch that will comprise herbicides or pesticides, which can hurt vegetation and pollinators.

Apply a two-inch layer to retain moisture and suppress weeds, however depart just a few inches of naked earth round the principle stem.

If mulch makes contact with the vegetation, it may improve the danger of illness or pest infestation.


Should you amended the soil with loads of composted manure or one other kind of soil builder, you most likely received’t want to use supplemental fertilizer.

A close up horizontal image of a single yellow crookneck squash growing in the summer garden with landscape fabric underneath it.

Since container-grown vegetation will exhaust their vitamin extra shortly, I do advocate feeding them as soon as a month, beginning as soon as they’re about 4 weeks previous and once more at three-week intervals till they cease blooming.

A balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to about 50 % of what’s beneficial on the label is acceptable.

You might also need to fertilize in-ground plantings or crookneck squash grown in raised beds simply as soon as, once they first start to bloom.

As I stated, you’ll be able to most likely skip this step, however in case you’re extra-ambitious about heavy yields, this technique ups your odds of manufacturing a bumper crop.

I like giving my blooming squash a lift with a gentle, balanced fertilizer at bloom time.

Rising Ideas

  • Sow seeds or transplant begins when the air and soil are persistently heat, in spite of everything hazard of frost has handed.
  • Plant in full solar.
  • Mulch when seedlings are a pair inches tall with two units of true leaves.

Cultivars to Choose

When you’re looking your native plant nursery or backyard heart, you’ll usually see seed packets labelled “crookneck squash,“ with no cultivar title.

There’s a little bit of selection obtainable amongst crookneck squash cultivars. Some have easy pores and skin and others have a textured, “warty” look.

You might need to develop an early selection in case you reside the place the rising season is brief or when, like me, you’re planting in an space the place sizzling, moist summers improve the percentages of sure cucurbit illnesses and bug pests.

Pay shut consideration to which seeds are hybrids since they might boast improved yields or illness resistance.

However observe that saved hybrid seeds received’t develop true. I don’t advocate experimenting with untested ends in the second season when such a high-yielding dwelling backyard crop is at stake.

Listed below are just a few of the highest crookneck squash varieties to think about:

Golden Goose

Jack’s big, eat your coronary heart out. ‘Golden Goose’ is a hybrid with high-yielding potential and exquisite fruits: easy and darkish yellow with a gooseneck-style curve on the tapered tops.

The vegetation are compact, reaching simply 24 inches tall, which makes them best for containers.

A close up of 'Golden Goose' crookneck squash set on a blue surface.

‘Golden Goose’

They’re pretty quick, too, taking 40 to 50 days to achieve maturity, so gardeners who’re planting late or reside in areas the place the season is brief might need to develop this selection.

‘Golden Goose’ is offered in 20-seed packets from Burpee.

Golden Summer time

Attempting to seize the texture of carefree summer season days? This heirloom crookneck is an effective selection for nostalgic vegetable gardeners.

‘Golden Summer time’ produces scads of tender, yellow fruits you’ll be able to boil and serve dripping with butter or add to a luscious squash casserole made with a household recipe.

This classic selection takes somewhat longer than the brand new hybrids to provide, however it can save you seeds on the season’s finish and plant them subsequent 12 months. Count on fruits in 60 to 90 days.

A square image of a pile of yellow crookneck squash, freshly harvested in a wooden container.

‘Golden Summer time’

These summertime delights are finest picked once they’re about six inches lengthy, however be happy to let just a few develop twice that lengthy and type exhausting shells later within the season, notably if you wish to save the seeds.

Use the curved, darker yellow mature fruits for fall ornament.

‘Golden Summer time’ crookneck seeds can be found in natural or customary packets and in bulk from Eden Brothers.


This is without doubt one of the forms of yellow squash that offers it a well-deserved repute for being fast-growing and prolific.

In truth, I’d dare say this disease-resistant selection could also be hardy sufficient to maintain the entire neighborhood in squash, with a lot left over to inventory the freezer and pickle, can, and dehydrate to your coronary heart’s content material.

A Burpee-bred hybrid, ‘Pic-N-Pic’ vegetation start producing tender yellow fruits about 50 days after planting and might proceed for months if the climate holds.

A close up of a pile of 'Pic-N-Pic' crookneck squash fruits in a wooden basket.


The vegetation develop 24 to 30 inches tall and unfold 36 to 48 inches throughout, which makes them compact sufficient to develop in giant containers or small-space backyard beds.

Harvest the fruits at 4 to 6 inches lengthy for the perfect crisp texture and nutty taste.

‘Pic-N-Pic’ is offered in 65-seed packets from Burpee.

Managing Pests and Illness

Whereas crookneck squash vegetation are fast-growing and are usually prolific, they’re under no circumstances carefree the place pests or illnesses are involved.

You’ll be able to ordinarily keep away from infestations and the ravages of illness with preventive measures. Listed below are the highest foes to pay attention to: 


The bugs that love summer season squash nearly as a lot as we do vary from teeny-tiny aphids and spider mites to easily-spotted cucumber beetles and squash bugs.

A close up horizontal image of a squash bug pictured on a soft focus background.

Right here’s the factor, although: Recommendation for stopping infestation or combating these undesirable guests shouldn’t be one dimension suits all as a result of the risk stage and timing varies in several rising areas.

I develop greens in East Tennessee, for instance, the place squash bugs and vine borers are the highest enemies, however they don’t get established till sizzling climate arrives.

So for me, the perfect safety measure is to plant and harvest forward of their arrival.

Gardeners in cooler areas like New England might not have as a lot hassle with the bugs that thrive in heat temperatures, however should still have hassle with, say, cutworms.

It’s a good suggestion to seek the advice of your native agricultural extension service to seek out out what you’re up towards in your space after which tailor your method to keep away from these pests.

Since zucchini and crookneck squash are each kinds of C. pepo, they have a tendency to draw the identical bugs.

You’ll be able to study extra about stopping, detecting, and combating them in our information to widespread zucchini pests.


A spread of widespread vegetable illnesses can have an effect on crookneck squash.

They’re attributable to pathogens that embrace fungi, micro organism, or water molds which may be soilborne. Sucking bugs resembling aphids and squash bugs carry a few of them from plant to plant.

Two of essentially the most critical illnesses embrace cucumber mosaic virus, which stunts vegetation and deforms their fruits, and bacterial wilt, which is unfold by cucumber beetles and might slay your entire full-grown vegetation in a matter of days.

As you may with bugs, it’s a good suggestion to examine along with your native ag extension to seek out out what you’re more than likely to come across in your space, so you’ll be able to work further exhausting to get rid of the situations these pathogens favor.

Verticillium rot, for instance, will get established in cool climate, whereas downy mildew thrives in humidity.

Your ag extension agent might also have strategies for disease-resistant strains that develop effectively in your space.

Irrespective of your area, it’s at all times finest to attempt to forestall the illness versus making an attempt to deal with one as signs seem.

A few of the finest methods are the identical steps you’ll take to develop wholesome, prolific vegetation.

For instance, correct spacing combats fungi that proliferate in too-humid situations, whereas crop rotation will help to get rid of soilborne illnesses like verticillium wilt.

Additionally, solely water on the soil line, not from above the leaves, to keep away from introducing an overabundance of moisture that will not dry shortly, risking fungal progress on the foliage.

Be taught extra about 11 widespread summer season squash illnesses in our information to stopping and treating illness in zucchini.

Harvesting and Storage

Should you solely draw one tip from this information, let it’s this: Choose crookneck squash once they’re younger and tender.

You’ll be able to harvest them once they’re simply two inches lengthy! However you must by no means allow them to get greater than 4 to 6 inches lengthy.

That is so essential.

A close up horizontal image of a fresh crookneck squash harvest displayed in a wicker basket pictured in light sunshine.

Once they get any bigger than that, the pores and skin turns into brittle and the seeds within the rounded finish turn out to be giant, surrounded by stringy pulp.

May you eat them? In a pinch, certain, however they received’t be the tender, nutty, silky-when-cooked produce you’ve labored so exhausting to develop.

And that is equally essential: If you don’t decide the ripe fruits in a well timed trend, the plant will go into seed-producing mode as an alternative of constant to blossom and develop new fruits.

So it’s a win-win to choose yellow squash early and infrequently.

Relying in your character, chances are you’ll must set a cellphone reminder close to the time when your vegetation must be reaching maturity and producing younger fruit, or observe it in your gardening journal.

You will discover the anticipated variety of days to maturity in your seed packet or within the seed catalog description.

Use a pointy, clear paring knife to chop the squash from the plant. Should you attempt to twist it off along with your palms (don’t ask me how I do know this…), you may uproot the plant or injury the vine.

Deal with the fruits fastidiously – it’s fairly straightforward to by accident snap the slender necks clear in two. Should you do, simply cook dinner them instantly so the uncovered surfaces don’t dry out or go moldy.

Should you can, eat these tender, tasty veggies the identical day you harvest them for a chic taste.

However in case you aren’t capable of put together them that shortly, they’ll be okay on the counter for a day or two. In any other case, retailer them within the fridge.

Watch out to not retailer squash in the identical bag or space of the kitchen as any fruits or greens that produce ethylene, resembling bananas, apples, tomatoes, or melons, which may make them develop brown spots and decay much more shortly.

Be aware that saved summer season squash which can be uncovered to temperatures beneath 41°F might maintain chill injury which makes the feel mushy after they return to room temperature.

Customary meals security measures dictate that fridges must be set to 40°F or beneath, so once more, utilizing freshly harvested squash ASAP is preferable to refrigerated storage.

Freezing squash deliberately continues to be a great way to protect it, however you’ll need to grate it first or blanch it in sizzling water, adopted by a cool rinse earlier than freezing.

We’ll talk about the numerous methods to protect crooknecks to get pleasure from within the chilly months subsequent. Learn on!


I love to do my finest to reassure gardeners rising a summer season squash resembling crookneck for the primary time, however I cannot go as far as to let you know that you simply’ll be capable to salvage overly-mature fruits by preserving them.

It’s a standard rookie mistake to attend too lengthy to choose ripe squash, one which I hope you’ll keep away from.

These too-large, pithy, seedy squashes with the extra-large seeds received’t style any higher whenever you protect them.

A close up horizontal image of jars of pickled summer squash.

With that not-so-encouraging information out of the best way, let me add {that a} correctly harvested and preserved bounty from the squash backyard can broaden your homegrown meals choices effectively into the winter.

Begin by ensuring you decide the fruits once they’re nonetheless 4 to 6 inches lengthy.

In the event that they develop greater than that, you could possibly reduce the exhausting rind off and scoop out the seeds to yield a little bit of flesh you’ll be able to steam, stir fry, or boil, however that sort of pulp isn’t high-quality sufficient to attempt to save for the long run.

As an alternative, focus your efforts on the small, agency, and virtually seedless squash you harvest.

My favourite technique to top off is by making squash pickles.

You can even dehydrate skinny slices of crookneck squash that you simply sprinkle liberally along with your selection of salt and different seasonings.

Use your oven on a low temperature or a dehydrator to let the slices dry out and get actually crispy. Place them in an hermetic container and retailer them someplace cool and darkish, just like the pantry.

Attempt grating a bunch of the squash, use it as an alternative choice to zucchini in bread or muffins, and freeze these.

Beginning to get the thought? There are many interesting choices right here!

Listed below are two extra for you:

Contemplate marinating recent chunks in a store-bought or selfmade French dressing and freeze the combination to thaw and grill or roast later.

Or, make a batch of summer season vegetable soup that includes loads of these tasty cucurbits, and freeze parts within the dimension your loved ones is more than likely to make use of all through the approaching winter.

Recipes and Cooking Concepts

Crookneck squash is a core ingredient for summer season facet dishes and an inspiration to create new appetizers, salads, and even casseroles.

It has such excessive yields that you simply’ll have a lot for each the fundamentals and a few experimentation.

A close up horizontal image of a white bowl filled with sliced raw yellow summer crookneck squash on a purple tablecloth.

You’ll be able to benefit from the younger, delicate fruits reduce into rounds or matchsticks and added to a platter of crudites. Simply remember to wash them and allow them to air dry on a clear dish towel forward of serving.

Baba ghanoush hummus enhances the delicate, nutty taste of uncooked squash on a veggie tray. Discover the recipe for this tasty eggplant and legume dip on our sister website, Foodal.

For a facet dish, take away the stem finish, slice, and steam items of crookneck squash or poach them in vegetable or hen broth.

To make a base for a shrimp or hen entree, stir fry rounds of crookneck squash in vegetable oil, or braise it in olive oil.

I like so as to add minced garlic and sliced inexperienced onions to both preparation, however you must add different veggies, sauces, or herbs to fit your style, alongside along with your protein of selection.

Or, attempt a casserole with crookneck squash as the principle ingredient.

There are a great deal of interesting choices, however do remember that you may make the sort of dish all year long, not simply within the typical consolation meals season of autumn.

A close up horizontal image of a freshly baked casserole just out of the oven.
Picture by Meghan Yager.

Foodal provides a inexperienced bean and summer season squash casserole recipe that’s helpful for utilizing up each forms of extras out of your veggie backyard at season’s finish. Test it out!

As for these appetizers I alluded to, contemplate deep- or air-frying rounds, chunks, or planks of this or any number of homegrown summer season squash.

Begin by substituting yellow squash rounds for the zucchini in Foodal’s recipe for fried zucchini with citrus sauce, after which experiment with coatings, cooking strategies, and dipping sauces till you’ve established your favorites.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Annual vetetable Water Wants: Reasonable
Native to: Mexico Upkeep: Reasonable
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 3-10 Tolerance: Warmth, drought
Season: Summer time Soil Sort: Organically wealthy loam
Publicity: Full solar Soil pH: 6.0-7.5
Time to Maturity: 40-60 days Soil Drainage: Properly-draining
Spacing: 18 inches Companion Planting: Beans, borage, corn, dill, marigolds, nasturtiums, parsley, peppermint, spinach
Planting Depth: 1 inch (seeds), depth of the basis ball (transplants) Keep away from Planting With: Potatoes, different cucurbits
Top: 24-48 inches Household: Cucurbitaceae
Unfold: 18-48 inches Genus: Cucurbita
Progress Price: Quick Species: pepo
Widespread Pests: Aphids, cucumber beetles, cutworms, leafminers, spider mites, squash bugs, squash vine borers, thrips, whiteflies Widespread Illnesses: Alternaria leaf blight, bacterial leaf spot, bacterial wilt, blossom finish rot, cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew, fusarium crown and foot rot, powdery mildew, septoria leaf spot, verticillium wilt, yellow mosaic virus

The Curvy Yellow Cucurbit

Whether or not you’d wish to develop the previous favorites you bear in mind from childhood, otherwise you’re on the lookout for a dependable technique to harvest a considerable quantity of your individual meals, crookneck squash are perfect for the house backyard.

A close up horizontal image of a row of crookneck squash plants growing in the garden.

Do you already develop these prolific greens? Drop a remark beneath and share your expertise, or ask a query. We’ll do our greatest to get again to you ASAP!

And remember to try these summer season squash guides subsequent for extra data:

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