Monday, January 16, 2012

Growing Squash Two Ways

I have really enjoyed growing and selling squash. For me it has been a great crop to learn a bit about the farming process from soil prep to planting to harvesting and market.

We grew squash 2 years in a row.

Year one:  The first year we decided to do squashes simply because JJ said they would be fun for me and an easier crop to start with.  When we delivered 10 cases and had them returned because they all suddenly turned, we knew we had failed.

 What not to do:

  1. They went in the ground late.
  2. The season was so short they were immature.
  3. While being harvested they were bruised and nicked.
  4. They were rinsed before storing.
  5. They were stacked too high.  
  6. They underwent way too many transfers compromising them further.
In addition we did not have adequate boxes to work with for packaging when ready and we had very little forethought as to what we would to with 2000 lbs of squash.  We tried to do farmers market too late to push the paper work through!  What a learning experience.

Year two: We planted the squash at the perfect time.  We literally had to weed twice because of the timing between tilling was so right on.  That is a something to look for.

What we did right:
  1. Worked the ground and fertilized well before planting.
  2. Allowed plants time to mature.
  3. Waited till the last possible minute to harvest them.
  4. Hired very careful help who harvested kindly.
  5. Purchased boxes from local company.
  6. Did NOT rinse them, but wiped in field at harvest with dry towel.
  7. Put in the cooler immediately no higher than 3 boxes high.
  8. Tried to maintain temp in cooler with heater on cold days.
  9. Made a market schedule for calls and delivery and followed it.
  10. Checked periodically for rot.
  11. Checked all boxes before leaving for markets.
 Things to do next year:
  1. Remind markets of who we are well before season begins.
  2. Gently turn and wipe off fruits while growing to avoid sitting spots.
  3. Side dress once early on.
  4. Have more than enough boxes to avoid multiple runs.
  5. Get shelving for cooler.
Why I like growing squash:
  1. It's easy care.
  2. Chokes the sun out to discourage weed growth.
  3. Deer don't eat it!
  4. Lower watering needs.
  5. You can sell blossoms too.
  6. It stores for 3-6 months 
  7. Common, everyone loves squash?!!
We didn't get rich, but we made money on this crop!  I can hit the market for 4 months and be done, so I can do other things.  It was very satisfying to grow indeed.

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