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Planting and Training Cucumbers, Squash and Melons

The soil has finally warmed and it is time to get pumpkins, melons, squash and cucumbers in the ground. 

These large plants require lots of sunshine and space so pick their spot in your garden carefully.

Try growing some of your vine crops in a cage or on a trellis to save space.  Trellising vine crops not only saves space, but helps reduce disease problems by increasing the air and light that reaches all parts of the plants.  As these plants grow, you may need to guide them onto the supports until they start climbing on their own. 

Plant squash 2-feet apart in rows that are 3-feet apart.  Or, use the hill system.  Rake surrounding soil to form raised areas 3 to 4 feet apart.  Plant one transplant or 4 to 5 seeds in each hill.  As the seeds sprout, thin to one or 2 healthy plants per hill.

No space for vine crops?  Consider using bush varieties that require less space or grow them in a container on your patio.  With a little thought and careful site selection you can have a bountiful harvest this fall.

A bit more information:  Large melons and squash grown vertically will need a bit of support.  Create a sling from old stockings, scraps of fabric or macramé.  Place the developing fruit on the sling and tie it to the trellis or fence.  This will prevent the heavy fruit from breaking the vine and crashing to the ground.  Plus, the elevated fruit will be less subject to soil borne disease and insects.

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