courgettes/squash ground cover

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al78

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courgettes/squash ground cover
« on: July 30, 2013, 00:14 »
On our community allotment there is a bed of courgettes and squash which have really taken off and gone rampant, as though they are on a mission to take over the plot. I wondered if this could be utilised by growing these amongst crops that grow vertically, like beans, so that the squash spreads over the ground and suppresses any weed growth. Is this likely to work?

Some of squash are bearing fruit which looks like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spaghetti_Squash_700.jpg. How do I know when it is ready for harvesting. They are currently 8-10 inches long.

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snow white

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2013, 07:53 »
No expert but they are both water hungry plants and I think they would compete for available moisture.

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allotmentann

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2013, 08:08 »
Yes, definitely. I am growing my squash with beans this year. A lot of people have tried the Three Sisters method, an ancient way of growing squash, beans and sweet corn all together. In this country though, most people find two together is as much as can be supported. Squash and courgettes as you have found are excellent ground cover! They have the added bonus of not being included in crop rotations, so I pop them in anywhere I have the space. :)

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JayG

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2013, 08:13 »
What you are proposing (presumably for next year) is along the lines of the "3-sisters" method of growing sweet corn, beans and squashes together to maximise the use of space, an idea which originated in South America, I believe.

It's been discussed several times in these forums and the consensus is usually that trying all 3 often doesn't work very well, partly because our UK sweet corn varieities are shorter, but mainly because our summers are not usually good enough to get all 3 to succeed.

Many train their squashes through their sweetcorn though, and in theory you could do the same with climbing beans, although that's a bit less practical because they are usually grown much more densely and in rows or circles.
Don't expect too much in terms of supressing weed growth - my Uchi Kuri Squash plants are rampaging across the ground but weeds are still germinating underneath, so are actually more difficult to remove!  ::)

As a rule, winter squashes are ready when the skin has turned to its "final" colour (helps to know the variety!) and the skin is at least partially hardened - it should sound hollow if you tap it with your knuckles.
Many winter squashes usually take nearly all of a typical British summer to ripen properly, but in any event they should be harvested and brought indoors if frost threatens.

(Oops, bit of a crossover with Allotmentann - serves me right for breaking off in mid-post, although luckily we seem to mostly agree!)
Sow your seeds, plant your plants. What's the difference? A couple of weeks or more when answering possible queries!

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mumofstig

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 08:22 »
You would have difficulty getting to the beans to pick them, with rampant squash as ground cover where would you put your feet  :D
Lesley x
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compostqueen

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2013, 10:01 »
I have grown a well behaved squash with my corn, a Sweet Mama.  Just the one though. They are rampaging beasts and need space and you can't be trying to harvest spuds from the melee like what I have done in the past before I learned it was a terrible idea  :D  Mine were all planted in an ocean of manure so feeding them all was ok

They do provide ground cover but this year I've been astonished at the amounts of weeds that have come up through them. I think the weeds must have been in the manure though. 

I love to see the squashes and courgettes en masse. All jungle-like and with such promise  ::)

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ryetek

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2013, 14:02 »
I'm trying butternut squash with sweet corn this year as a little experiment. All the things stated above by others are true. In other words there are some weeds among them and they're hard to remove and I will probably have problems harvesting the sweetcorn when it's ready and will need to tread carefully. Otherwise the experiment seems to be going OK and does save a little space if nothing else.

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Salmo

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 19:04 »
I have grown squash/courgettes with sweetcorn planted through fabric for several years. I plant the courgettes along the edge so that they can be picked easily. I give the sweetcorn a little wider spacing, about 2 ft each way.

One thing I have observed is that the squashes produce very few fruits under the sweetcorn canopy, most of them are just at the edges where they probably get more sun.


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allotmentann

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2013, 19:50 »
I am growing courgettes and squash around bean wigwams, the wigwams are easy to reach without treading on the beds at all, both are growing successfully so far. I think it may have something to do with timing, if the beans had not started climbing before the courgettes got large then they may have held the beans back, fortunately it has worked out, more by luck than design. :)

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BobE

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2013, 19:50 »
You would have difficulty getting to the beans to pick them, with rampant squash as ground cover where would you put your feet  :D


Thats why they are called squash

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mumofstig

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2013, 19:53 »
 :lol: Maybe  :lol:

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seaside

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Re: courgettes/squash ground cover
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2013, 20:16 »
I am growing courgette and butternut around and at the margins of  the sweet corn and my beanpoles. Mainly because it saves space and it suits my crop rotation plan to group them together. The ground cover squash tends to skirt around the margins initially and that's fine.
The three sisters was developed for all the right reasons in South America, but we don't have the same imperatives. In fact it doesn't really suit our climate that much, and we certainly don't have a shortage of material for beans to climb up, as was one of the reasons in South America, but two sort of half sisters seems to work quite well. I haven't really noticed any feed competition issues with the sweet corn and courgette/squash.



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