Plant your second crop of summer squash now

I gardened for years before I realized why my summer squash always fizzled out in production by the end of August or beginning of September. They were tired! The hot July heat and heavy production that most summer squash produce tires the plants out and they either die, get diseases or drop drastically in production.

So I did a little research and found that many people plant a second crop in late June or early July. A second crop will supply a nice crop in late September and into October depending your frost dates or if you protect them from the first light frost or two.

I find that the second crop of produce may be a little smaller but they seem to have a more delicate skin and the timing is perfect for using with tomatoes, peppers and onions, which are in full production from August through October.

I tend to use summer squash either as a soup puree or cooked with a lot of vegetables so production the entire season is preferred. Even with the second crop I plant radishes that I let bolt and flower near the base of the plants to protect them from squash bugs. (I have no squash bugs in my gardens.)

I even like to plant a second crop of the dreaded Zucchini plants. Zucchini makes a great jam, excellent mini pizzas and fun lasagna. I also tend to use my zucchini at the size of two to four inches long so a plant can produce like crazy and still not produce a large crop when you are harvesting the zucchini so small.

Small zucchini are great steamed, with the blossom still attached when they are harvested small. I also like them sliced in salads when small and tender.

If you plan to plant a second crop of summer squash you can find these plants on sale at this time of year and most people have planted their one crop. You can also start them from seeds and still get a nice sized harvest. I would suggest buying the seeds earlier in the year because by late June most garden centers have removed their seeds from the store.

Summer squash is one of my favorites vegetables. There are so many different varieties, sizes and colors to chose from, which makes serving them in salads and vegetable platters pleading to the eye. And most have a slightly different taste.

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