Korean squash is a superb vegetable to grow in the garden. It’s easy to care for and adds a fantastic flavor and texture to any dish it’s added to.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the ideal growing conditions for a plentiful harvest and delicious taste.
What Is Korean Squash?
Korean squash, also known as Korean zucchini or Aehobak, is a type of summer squash popular in Korean cuisine. It is a fast-growing, easy to care for vegetable, and it can be cultivated in gardens and greenhouses. The fruit can be either round or cylindrical and is harvested before it has had a chance to ripen.
The Korean squash plant is a variety of the Cucurbita moschata species. This means that it’s more closely related to butternut squash and calabaza pumpkins rather than actual zucchini.
Despite this, the fruit of the Korean squash looks very similar to zucchini or courgette, but with thinner skin and a more tender, juicy flesh.
Korean Squash Varieties
There are two main varieties of Korean squash:
- Aehobak: Is a summer crop. It looks very similar to a zucchini. The fruit is smooth and cylindrical, around 7 inches (18 cm) long, with vivid green skin that does not require peeling.
- Put Hobak: This is, in fact, a winter squash, but the fruit is eaten before it is fully ripe. It is also called avocado squash due to the shape of the fruit: round, about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, with smooth, dark green skin.
You can use this guide to grow both of these varieties of Korean squash.
How To Grow Korean Squash
Planting Korean squash in your garden is simple and abundantly rewarding. Let’s start with the basics.
– When to Plant Korean Squash
Korean squash is a summer crop. That is why it is best grown in early summer or mid-spring after any chance of frost has passed.
You can plant Korean squash seeds in the soil directly or get them started indoors if you live in a cooler area. It requires a minimum temperature of 75 F (24 C) for seed germination.
– Germinating Korean Squash Seeds
To get a head start, we recommend germinating Korean squash indoors in early spring. The seeds look very similar to pumpkin seeds and have the same type of thick outer layer. Soak them in room temperature water for at least 12 hours before planting.
Fill several compostable seed pots with a mix of soil and seed starter. After the seeds are soaked, place one seed in each pot, and cover with a half-inch layer of soil. Keep the soil moist but be careful not to have it soaked. Place the pots in a warm, well-lit room.
The seeds should germinate in 7-10 days. Once each young plant has at least two sets of well-developed leaves, it can be transplanted into the soil outside.
Growing Korean Squash Outdoors
Korean squash needs full sun exposure for healthy growth. Ideally, it should receive a minimum of six hours of light each day, so plant it in the sunniest part of your garden.
This squash variety is a vigorous climber and can easily reach a height of 10 feet (3 meters). We recommend that you provide your Korean squash with a form of support, such as a trellis or stakes arranged in a conical shape.
Like all varieties of zucchini and marrow, Korean squash has a massive appetite. This vegetable needs soil that is very rich in nutrients. The best soil for Korean squash is a mix of compost and manure. Of course, other vegetables in your garden will also need compost, so if you don’t want to use all of it on your greedy squash plants, there are other methods you can try.
Dig the soil to a depth of 12 inches (30 cm). Use a fork to remove any rocks, roots, and other debris and break up the soil a bit to improve drainage. Incorporate as much organic matter as you can, such as compost, manure, and mulch. The ideal soil pH range for Korean squash is between 6.0 and 7.0.
– Transplanting and Spacing
Plant your Korean squash 12 inches (30 cm) apart in rows that are 50 inches (127 cm) apart. You can use this spacing for both seeds sown directly into the ground, as well as small plants that were started indoors.
It is important to leave plenty of space between the rows of squash. This will give them room to grow and allow air circulation, which will prevent fungal problems such as mildew.
Keep your Korean squash plant well-watered at all times. This crop is not drought-tolerant, and during the hotter months, you will need to water it at least once a week.
Adding two inches (5 cm) of mulch to the base of the plant will also prevent the soil from drying out too fast.
Korean squash is a very heavy feeder. If you are growing this vegetable in nothing but compost, you won’t need to provide it with additional fertilizers for the rest of the year. Otherwise, you can apply a liquid fertilizer once a month.
When the plant is still young, you can use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote the growth of healthy leaves and vines. As the squash plant starts flowering, switch to a fertilizer rich in phosphorus to encourage abundant blooms and more fruit.
– Pollinating Korean Squash Flowers
For an abundant Korean squash crop, we encourage you to pollinate the flowers manually. This plant produces separate male and female flowers, which are easy to tell apart. The male flowers have thin, slender stems, while the female ones have a slight lump on the stem, which will become the squash after fecundation.
To pollinate Korean squash flowers, simply snip the male flower and gently rub it against the female flower to transfer the pollen. The best time to do this is early in the morning when both flowers are fully open.
When to Harvest Korean Squash
The Korean squash plant takes between 55 and 70 days to reach maturity. Depending on the cultivar, the fruit can be harvested as early as eight days after flowering.
As a rule of thumb, wait until the fruit is about 6 inches (15 cm) long for the Aehobak squashes and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter for Put Hobak. Its fruit should feel firm to the touch, and the skin should be a vivid shade of green.
Korean squash is a type of summer squash, which means that the fruit should be harvested before it is fully ripe. If the squash is left on the vine for too long, the skin will become hard and unpalatable, the seeds will start to get bigger, and the fruit will start turning yellow.
To harvest Korean squash, simply cut the stem with a sharp pair of gardening scissors. Pick the squash as often as possible to encourage the plant to produce more flowers and more fruit.
After harvesting, Korean squash can be kept in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for up to seven days. This vegetable does not last long, and the longer you store it, the bigger the risk of it becoming soft, limp, and developing spots. Enjoy your Korean squash when fresh, preferably the same day you picked it.
– Cooking With Korean Squash
You can use Korean squash the same way as zucchini or courgette. The flesh is tender and juicy, with a light sweetness, and the skin does not require peeling. You can use them either fresh or cooked, in salads, deep-fried in batter, baked in the oven, or even as a substitute for pasta.
For an authentic taste, try using it in hobak-juk, a traditional Korean porridge, or in hobak buchim, a tasty savory pancake that’s also from Korea.
Common Pests and Problems
The Korean squash leaves can be very susceptible to mildew, especially during hot, humid summers. This will cause white, powdery patches to develop on the foliage, spreading to the young vines and flowers, effectively killing the plant.
You can get rid of mildew by spraying the leaves with a baking soda and liquid, non-detergent soap solution. As a prevention, we recommend watering the plant at the bottom without splashing any water on the leaves.
Korean squash is a wonderful vegetable to grow at home, and it can make a superb addition to your kitchen, too. It’s unfussy and easy to grow; just follow this guide, and you’ll be sure to enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Let’s double-check the information we’ve discussed:
- Korean squash is a variety of summer squash similar to zucchini.
- It needs plenty of direct sun, lots of water, and soils that are very rich in nutrients.
- The fruit of the Korean squash should be harvested before it starts ripening.
- Plants can suffer from mildew infestations in hot and humid conditions.
So, why not grab some seeds and try growing Korean squash in your garden?
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