Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed in full sun. Winter squashes are heavy feeders. Work a good organic fertilizer into the soil before planting. For best results, plan on adding a side dressing or an organic fertilizer every 3 weeks when blooms appear until you harvest for optimum production. Mulch plants to protect shallow roots, discourage weeds, and retain moisture.
Squash need at least one inch of water per week. Water deeply once or twice a week as opposed to small amounts more often. Shallow watering will result in weak root development and will discourage fruit production. Wilting in scorching, mid-afternoon sun is normal. They will recover when the sun goes down.
Growing in hills: space the plants about 4 feet apart
Growing in rows: space the plants 2 to 3 feet apart, in rows that are about 4 to 6 feet apart.
When vines reach 5 feet in length, pinch off the growing tips to encourage fruit-bearing side-shoots. By midsummer, pinch off remaining flowers and small fruits on the vines. This will allow the plant to focus its energy on the ripening crop.
Winter Squash cucurbita maxima
Acorn Squash (Table Queen)
A medium sized, acorn shaped, vining type. Thick, pale
orange flesh with excellent flavor. 1.5 – 3 lb. fruits.
Vigorous and prolific, can withstand poor soil conditions.
Keeps well. Harvest 80 days.
Butternut Squash (Waltham)
Uniform, 4-5 lb. fruits with smooth, tan skin easily peeled
with a potato peeler. Flesh is finely textured and dark orange.
Stores well. Great flavor! Harvest 105 days.
Compact plants spread only 4-6 feet. Sweet, oblong 1.5-2 lb. fruit.
Skin starts creamy white with green stripes and flecks, curing to
striped light yellow. AKA also known as sweet potato squash.
Smooth, nutty flesh. Harvest 80 days.
Uniform, mini butternut with dark tan skin and great sweet flavor.
Simply cut in half and bake! Green unripe fruits; early planting is
recommended for tan color. Stores well. ½ – 1lb. fruit. Harvest 110 days.
Hubbard Baby blue
Teardrop shaped, scaled-down blue hubbard with smooth
gray skin and sweet flesh. Uniform 5-7 lb. fruit. Excellent
trap crop for cucumber beetles. Harvest 95 days.
Easy to grow. When cooked, the flesh falls away from
the fruit in ribbons or strands like spaghetti. Thrives in
gardens or in containers. Winter type. Harvest 110 days.
Winter squash culture –
A warm-season vegetable, winter squash differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds inside have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. When ripened to this stage, fruits of most varieties can be stored for use throughout the winter.
Winter squash is a good source of fiber, and low in calories, fat and sodium. One small serving can provide a third of the daily requirement for vitamin C. Winter squash is often a key ingredient in vegetable dishes, salads, soups, main dishes, breads and desserts.
Vines require considerable growing space and can take over a garden if not properly placed. If space is limited consider growing bush or semi-vining types. Allow fruit to ripen fully on the vine for best flavor and texture. A light frost can improve the flavor of some by changing some of the starch to sugar. Once the vines begin to die back and the shells cannot be penetrated by your thumbnail the squash is ready to harvest.
Once harvested, wash and disinfect outer rind with hot water or a weak bleach solution. This will help discourage fungal or bacterial rot from starting in any small cut or crevices. For long term storage a cool room between 45-55 degrees F. with 65-70% humidity is best. Squash should not be stored near apples, pears or other ripening fruit that releases ethylene gas. Following these guidelines can help keep fruit for up to six months.