Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

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Choosing to Grow Summer Squash from Seeds or Seedlings

Squash seedlings in small colorful pots, waiting to be replanted.

Squash seedlings in small colorful pots, waiting to be replanted.

Getting your squash garden started every season begins with the choice of how to grow your plants—from seeds or seedlings? Buying seedlings at your local nursery is quicker and easier, but your choices are limited to what they carry, and the cost of seedlings will likely exceed the cost of starting from seeds.

It’s also easier to find different varieties of squash when shopping for seeds. Online resources have a huge range of squash varieties to choose from. In fact, you may have trouble choosing! See the Resources section at the end of this collection for some great places to buy seeds.

In addition, the fact is that squash doesn’t like to have its roots disturbed, which makes success more likely to come from starting with seeds. Your choice also depends on your summer growing season; you’ll need to have enough warm, sunny days to go from seed to maturity. Your seed package should tell you how many days you’ll need.

If you still want to grow from seed but worry that your growing season is too short, you can still start seeds indoors. If starting seeds indoors, sow seeds four to five weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds sprout in three to 10 days. If you’re saving seeds from a previous crop, squash seeds last about four years.

If you’ve chosen to grow starter plants, remember to handle the plants with care to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. Most plants should recover from transplant shock.

When growing from seeds, you’ll need the right tools and a disciplined process for getting from seeds to plants that will produce a good harvest for you.

Besides your seeds, tools might include:

  • Starting soil
  • Containers
  • Widger (a spatula-like tool for lifting seedlings without damaging them)
  • Germination station
  • Grow lights
  • Heat mats

Depending on your set-up, you might not need all of these items—or you might be able to do-it-yourself (DIY) on some things.

Have you tried growing squash from seeds, starter plants, or both? Which method do you prefer—and why? Please tell us how you get your squash garden started every year.


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