How to grow squash?

Tips For Growing Squash

Squash is among the most commonly grown plant in the vegetable garden. This crop is fairly easy to grow and establishes itself quite well in most regions of the United States.

Varieties of Squash

There are many varieties of squash, most of which are vine plants; there are a number of bush types as well, however. Before you grow squash, be sure you know which type you have and plan your garden accordingly. There are two types of squash varieties: summer and winter.

Summer varieties of squash are large and bushy. These types of plants do not spread as the vine types do. There are several types of summer squash which come in a variety of shapes and colors. The most common types include:

  • Straight-neck
  • Crooked-neck
  • Scallop
  • Zucchini

Most winter varieties of squash are vine plants and will spread throughout the garden. Winter squash is often categorized according to fruit size and there are a number of sizes, shapes and colors available. Winter varieties include:

  • Acorn
  • Butternut
  • Spaghetti
  • Hubbard

Growing Squash Tips

As with other vine-growing crops, squash prefers heat, but it is often somewhat hardier than melons or cucumbers. Squash plants require full sun, fertile soil and sufficient moisture. The use of well composted material mixed into the soil is recommended.

Summer and winter squash grow best in fertile, well-drained soil containing high amounts of organic matter in areas of full sun. Organic matter can be added by incorporating compost

into the soil as well as decomposed manure.

Squash can be sown directly into the garden or started indoors. Summer and winter squash are commonly planted in hills about 1 inch deep. Sow seeds only after any danger of frost has ended and the soil has warmed. Usually, only 4 to 5 seeds per hill is plenty, thinning down to 2 or 3 plants per hill once the seedlings have developed their true leaves.

Hills and rows of summer squash should be approximately 3 to 4 feet apart while winter squash should be spaced approximately 4 to 5 feet apart with 5 to 7 feet between rows and with the hills spaced about 3 feet apart.

Squash can be started indoors 3 to 4 weeks prior to the planting date. Start seeds in peat pots but be sure the squash seedlings do not suffer root disturbances during transplanting. You can plant 3 to 4 seeds per pot and thin to 2 plants later. Be sure to harden the plants off prior to planting in the garden to lessen the shock of transplanting and wait until all danger of frost has passed. It helps to mulch squash plants generously; mulching maintains moisture and reduces weeds.

Harvesting Squash

Check daily when harvesting squash plants, as these crops grow quickly, especially in hot weather. You should harvest squash frequently to encourage more production and pick the fruits while still small. Squash that is overly ripe becomes hard, seedy and loses its flavor. The summer varieties should be gathered before the seeds have fully ripened and while the rinds are still soft. The winter varieties should not be picked until well matured.

Summer squash can be stored cool, moist areas up to two weeks. They may also be canned or frozen. Summer squash is commonly used in salads, stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in various dishes.

Winter squash can be stored in a cool, dry location for 1 to 6 months. Winter squash is commonly used in baked, steamed or boiled dishes.

Growing Squash Problems

Most varieties of squash are susceptible to a variety of bacteria and fungal diseases. Powdery mildew and bacterial wilt are the most common. Disease problems are most common in hot and humid weather. These diseases can be treated with organic fungicides. A variety of other pests also can cause problems, depending on your particular area.

Squash bugs and squash vine borers can be serious pests. These insects can cause entire leaves to wilt, turn brown and die. Squash is also susceptible to cucumber beetles, which feed on the leaves of the plants and spread disease from one plant to another. Most adult insects can be easily removed by hand, or you may apply an appropriate insecticide to the base of the plants.

With proper garden planning, growing requirements and maintenance, many of these problems can be avoided. After the final harvest, remove and destroy all plant debris to prevent insect or disease infestations.

How to grow butternut squash

The number of butternut squash recipes available on the net is a clear indication of their versatility and popularity in the kitchen. Butternut squash should store for up to 3 months in a cool, frost-free shed, packed in cardboard boxes in straw.

Butternut squash varieties to try

British-bred Harrier Butternut squash is the most common and reliable variety for growing in the UK. The plants each produce 4 or 5 long,pear-shaped fruits.

Butterbush butternut squash is a better option where space is a consideration. The compact bushy plants spread little over three feet, making it the best butternut squash varieties for container growing and small gardens.

For something different, try the green and orange striped Barbara butternut squash. This decorative variety also benefits from a small seed cavity and a fuller shape, producing more flesh per fruit.

Choosing a site

Growing butternut squash at home or on the allotment is easy, given a sunny spot and a rich, free-draining soil. Plenty of compost and horse manure should be added to the soil when preparing the planting area. If you don’t want to turn over the whole plot, you can prepare individual planting pockets, 45cm (18″) wide and deep, spaced 1m (3ft) apart.

How to sow butternut squash seeds

Being large and flat, butternut squash seeds are easy to work with, and make good sowing projects for children.

For the earliest crops, sow indoors from late April. Sow individually in small pots filled with multi-purpose compost. Yoghurt pots are a good alternative. Sow the seeds about 1 inch deep on their sides. Place pots in a propagator or clear plastic bag and set on a warm windowsill until seeds germinate. At this point, remove covers but keep in the warmth.

Young butternut squash plants are easy to handle thanks to large foliage and thick stems, but treat them delicately as you transfer them to the garden or allotment. Harden them off for a week or so, after all danger of frosts and plant out.

Alternatively, sow outdoors in May in soil that has been pre-warmed with a cloche. Sow two seeds per station and thin to the strongest seedling if both seeds germinate.

How to grow butternut squash in pots

Trailing varieties are best left for the vegetable patch. For success in pots, choose compact bush varieties such as Barbara. Use the largest pot you can, aiming for a minimum of 45cm (18in) diameter and just as deep. Two plants should perform well in a grow bag. Set in a spot and water regularly to prevent compost from drying out. Do away with frequent feeding through the season by adding incredicrop® to your compost at planting time. With 7 months coverage it will last the life of these long season plants.

Butternut squash growing tips

As plants begin to sprawl and grow into each other it can be hard to locate the centre of the plant for watering. Set a cane by each plant when planting out to act as a marker later in the season.

Double up on space by growing butternut squash around the base of sweetcorn plants.

No space left on the veg patch? You can even try growing butternut squash directly on the compost heap!

One of my fondest memories is being out in the backyard and picking squash with my mother-in-law. As many of you know (I wrote about it here), we lost my mother-in-law almost 5 months ago. It has been a hard transition.

But it has encouraged me all the more to push onward with homesteading because of how much she thrived from it.

So this year, I want to grow the biggest and best garden yet with lots of beautiful squash plants. Because I can’t recall many more plants she loved more than a squash plant. Maybe tomatoes, but I think that would be the only plant that she babied more than the squash.

Which leads me to this blog post on how to grow squash. We are going to cover it all so let’s hop to it.

Types of Squash to Grow

Squash grows most of the year. You have summer squash and winter squash. Depending upon where you live, you might be able to grow squash earlier or later in the year. These are some of the most popular varieties:


Via Gastronomers Guide

Our first variety of squash is an acorn squash. It gets the name by appearance since it resembles an acorn. This type of squash is a great choice for roasting.


Via Medical News Today

Butternut squash is a rather common variety of squash. It is used in many recipes and is versatile. It is great for roasting or for turning into soup as well.


Via Melissas

This squash is one that is native in tropical regions. It looks a lot like a pumpkin and is great for baking as well.


Via Love to Know

This squash is another form of winter squash. It is unique in appearance with its stripes but is also great for roasting and stuffing.


Via Speciality Produce

This squash is a great choice if you are trying to get away from potatoes. The reason is that is great for mashing, you can puree it as well, or make pies.


Via Real Food for Life

This variety of squash is one that is best used in soups. So if you are a soup person, then you’ll definitely want to consider growing this type of squash.


Via Food Subs

We are big pumpkin people in my house. My kids love pumpkin pies and pumpkin is also great for dogs and livestock too. If you’d like a versatile squash, then go with pumpkin as it can be used to make pancakes, pies, risottos, and quick breads.


Via LoseIt

This squash has been all of the rage suddenly. Since so many people have discovered an allergy to gluten, many use this squash in the place of pasta.


Via Master Cook

This is my favorite. It is a summer squash and can be used in many different dishes. I love the bright colors too.


Via Thrifty Fun

Our final squash is the zucchini. It is green in color and easy to grow too. It too is a summer squash and can be used in many different dishes.

How to Plant & Grow Squash

1. Start Seeds (If applicable)

If you live in the Northern climate, then you may not have any other choice than to start the seeds indoors. The reason is that squash is very sensitive to too much heat or frost.

So if you are trying to grow summer squash, you’ll need to watch the last spring frost. If you are trying to grow winter squash, you’ll have to jump on it when the heat isn’t too bad but before the frost as well.

However, squash doesn’t transplant well. So if you must start the seeds indoors, you’ll need to use peat pots so you can plant the whole pot in the ground to give the seedling a greater chance at survival. You’ll need to start the seeds 2-4 weeks before the last frost.

Also, if you are growing summer squash, it is a good idea to plant a batch in the middle of summer because a lot of the pests that bother squash are gone by this point.

2. Soil Needs

Squash really aren’t that picky when it comes to soil. The main thing is the squash need full sun and need the soil to be moist but well drained. You don’t want soggy soil.

So if you can provide that for squash, then they’ll most likely grow without much of an issue. If they don’t, we’ll cover what could’ve possibly went wrong a few points down.

3. Plant

If you are planting your squash from seed (which is recommended if possible), you’ll want to plant them either in a garden bed or in a hill. In the garden bed, they’ll need to be planted 2-3 feet apart at about a 1 inch depth.

However, if you plant them in a hill, you’ll take 3-4 seeds and place them together. Then mound dirt in around them. If you are in the north, hill planting is recommended because the seeds stay off of the ground directly, which provides more warmth for germination. The hills will need to be 5-6 feet apart.

Also, for planting purposes, you’ll need to know that most summer squash varieties now come in bush form. Winter squash varieties are in vine form. So plan accordingly if you are growing a vine. Vines need to be planted about 8-12 feet apart.

Plus, almost all squash are fully matured and ready for harvest in 60 days.

4. Water and Fertilize

The final step to planting squash is to water regularly and consistently. One time a week, you’ll need to water the plants deeply. This means that you’ll give the squash plants about an inch of water so the water will reach the roots.

How to Care for Your Squash

1. Mulch

After planting each of your squash plants (and after plants have formed if you direct sowed), you’ll need to place mulch around each plant. This will protect the roots of the plant and keep weeds from becoming a problem.

2. Fertilize

When you see the first bloom appear on your squash plant, it is time to fertilize to the side of the plant. Then you’ll need to fertilize regularly. Like with most gardens, fertilization once every 4-6 weeks should be ample.

3. Water

You will need to water your squash plants heavily. As mentioned above, be sure to water them one day a week with one inch of water along with regular watering on other days. This will help your plant thrive.

However, if by some chance you have misshapen fruit on your squash plant, then it means that the plant is lacking fertilizer or water.

Squash Problems

1. Squash Bug

Via University of Minnesota

Squash bugs look like smaller stink bugs. They live on the squash plant and kill it by sucking the sap right out of the plant. This sucking action releases a toxin from the bug into the plant and kills your plant.

Solution: Prevention is key. Rotate crops yearly, use insecticides, and also pay attention to your plants. If you can catch them while they are still small it is much easier to get under control.

One way of doing this is by placing a piece of shingle or board out by your squash plants every evening. All of the bugs will congregate there at night. Then you squoosh it first thing in the morning.

Also, be sure to dispose of all squash plants at the end of the grow season so the bugs don’t overwinter in them.

2. Blossom-End Rot

Via Applied Paranoia

Blossom-end rot is such a bummer. You think your plants are doing great, you see fruit forming, and then you see that the end of the fruit is black which means that your fruit is inedible. This is an issue because of a calcium deficiency or your soil has uneven moisture levels in it.

Solution: Sprinkle powdered milk around the base of the plant to increase calcium and water your soil evenly.

3. Stink Bugs

Via Stink Bugs Guide

I don’t like stink bugs. They are impossible to keep out of your house, but who knew they were also a threat to your squash plants? They are an issue because they will nibble on your plants.

Solution: Use insecticide, clean up plants and weeds in your yard, and do not give them a place to overwinter.

4. Squash Vine Borer

Via University of Kentucky

These little bugs do just what their names say. The eggs of these little creatures are laid at the base of a squash plant. When the eggs hatch, they begin to gnaw through the plant. This will obviously kill your squash plant.

Solution: You need to clean up your garden beds every winter so they don’t have anywhere to overwinter. If you begin to see signs or find eggs, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant. It is more about preventing this bug than defeating it because once you see it, then it is probably too late for your plant.

5. Pollination Issues

Via Gardening Central

If you notice that your zucchini has blooms but no fruit, then there is a good chance that the plant wasn’t properly pollinated.

Solution: Plant flowers around your zucchini that attracts bees, or pollinate your plants manually with a q-tip.

6. Cucumber Beetle

Via University of Minnesota

Cucumber beetles are little bugs that go after squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and beans. They eat little seedlings so if you see that your seedlings are being gnawed on (and probably killed) it is a good chance that this little bug could be behind it.

Solution: Sadly, insecticides don’t usually work on this pest. You can use sticky tape traps, or try to walk along and knock the bugs to the ground.

7. Aphids

Via The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Aphids are little bugs that go after multiple plants in any given garden. Squash is no different. They eat the stems, leaves, and pretty much any other part of the plant they can get into. So if you begin to notice that your plant is turning brown and failing, this little critter could be why.

Solution: The best way to prevent aphids from ever starting in the first place is by using companion planting. A lot of time certain plants will protect your crops from insects.

However, if you have them, a splash of cold water will often cause them to remove themselves from your plant.

Best and Worst Companions for Squash

The best companion plants for squash are corn, peas, beans, icicle radishes. These plants help deter certain pests that often attack squash plants.

So if you are able to plant them together it is highly recommended that you do so.

The worst companion plants for squash are potatoes and sunflowers. Though the sunflower is often a toss up between opinions, the potatoes are set in stone. Squash and potatoes will stunt each other’s growth. While sunflowers are said to be competitors for the same nutrients in the soil that squash need.

So again, if you can help to keep these plants apart, you’ll probably be better off for it.

How to Store Your Squash

Squash is usually ready to be harvested within 60 days of planting. You don’t necessarily want to wait until your squash is huge to pick them.

Actually, you’ll know that one week from the time you see a bloom on your plant that your squash is ready. You want to pick them while they are younger so they are more tender.

However, you don’t actually pluck squash either. Some do, but it is recommended that you cut them off so you don’t damage the plant. It is a good idea to check your plants daily so you don’t miss any squash and so they don’t get too big by going unnoticed. They will hide under the big leaves that summer squash often produces.

Once you cut your squash, summer squash will keep in a cool fridge for up to 10 days. Winter squash is ready to harvest when the rind is dark. If you just store them in a cool, dark place they’ll last the majority of winter.

It is not recommended to can squash so your option is to freeze them. You’ll just need to cut them into the desired sized pieces, blanch them for about 5 minutes in boiling water, place them in freezer bags, and freeze so you can use them throughout the winter months.

As you can tell, squash is pretty much a no-fuss vegetable. Give it a few simple necessities and it is good to go.

3 Mouth-Watering Recipes to Use Your Squash

1. Maple Cinnamon Butternut Squash

The words maple and cinnamon are what caught my attention for this recipe. Those two ingredients just go together so wonderfully in almost any dish.

So whether you’d like to use this recipe to go along with a weeknight dinner, or if you’d like to pull it out over the holidays, there is just something warm and comforting that is sure to soothe your hunger.

Make this squash recipe ›

2. Bacon-Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

This recipe looks super simple to make. Not to mention, it has bacon and cheese in it. What’s not to love?

So if you are looking for a little different recipe to help you use your spaghetti squash, then you most definitely should check out this delicious recipe.

Make this squash recipe ›

3. Butternut Squash Cornbread

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew it was one that had to be tried. I’m a huge fan of cornbread. So to realize that it can be made with garden fresh ingredients just makes me that much more excited.

If you are like me, and like cornbread and would be interested in adding a little twist to your usual recipe, then you need to try this squash recipe.

Try this squash recipe ›

So now that you know how to grow and use squash, hopefully you’ll find great success this growing season.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has been your experience growing squash? Which variety is your favorite to grow? Do you have any growing tips or tricks to share?

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Growing Winter Squash In Your Garden

If you’ve been wondering how to grow winter squash, you shouldn’t worry; growing winter squash is no difficult task. These are easy vining plants that take over when they see fit and take the vegetable to the finish line. There are many different varieties, and all of them take summer and fall to finish growing.

How to Grow Winter Squash

Winter squash can grow from a size large enough to be one serving on up to serving a table full of people. Furthermore, they take a long time to be ripe for harvest.

If you want to know when to plant winter squash, remember that it takes 80 to 110 days to fully ripen. Therefore, growing winter squash means planting it as soon as the chance of spring frost is over so you have enough time before the first frost in late fall.

When to Plant Winter Squash

Growing winter squash can be done well into the winter, thus the name. These are hardy vegetables that can provide for you throughout the winter into the following spring. There are so many different varieties you can plant, and some of them make for a nice single meal when plopped into the oven by themselves with some brown sugar and butter.

Some popular winter squash varieties include:

  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Hubbard squash

You’ll know when to plant winter squash after the last frost is over. Just plant seeds directly into the ground. They won’t grow until the ground warms up, but getting the seeds into the ground first thing after the last frost is imperative since it takes so long for them to ripen.

The best way in how to grow winter squash is to plant the seeds in rich, well-drained soil. Put the seeds into hills and once they come up and grow to about 2 inches (5 cm.) in height, thin the plants to three plants per hill, and put the plants three feet (.91 m.) apart. This is how they grow best.

Because they are vining plants, they do spread out, so soon you’ll see them take over each hill. As the vines come off the hill, you can weave them back on, but try not to overcrowd or move once the squash starts growing.

Harvesting Winter Squash

When you harvest winter squash, remember that these squash will last a long time indoors in a cool, dry place. Just thump the squash and see if it sounds somewhat hollow. This is how to tell when you should harvest winter squash. If it sounds hollow, it’s done! Just pick, store, cook and enjoy!


Home ” Vegetables ” Squash.html

Squash Growing and Harvest Information

Germination 70-95F
For Growth 65-75 F
Soil and Water
fertilizer Heavy feeder, apply lots of compost, high N
Side-dressing Apply compost mid-season.
pH 6.0-7.5
Water heavy
Planting Depth
– in hills 1/2-1″
– vine 6-8″
Root depth 18″-6′
– winter 12-15″
– summer 30-40″
Width 4 square feet, vines take 12-16 square feet
Space between plants
In beds 12-18″
In rows 24-28″
Space between rows 36-60″
Average plants per person 2-4
Cut all fruit except hubbard types with a 1″ stem. Don’t ever lift squash by the stem. Treat even those with hard skins gently to prevent bruising. Summer – cut before 8″ long, when skin is still soft, and before seeds ripen. Patty pan – Cut when 1-4″ in diameter and the skin is soft enough to break with a finger. Winter – cut when the skin is hard and not easily punctured, usually after the first frost has killed the leaves and the vine begins to die back but before the first hard frost.
First Seed Starting Date 14-28 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date 71-81 Days (summer) before first frost date, 111-141 Days (winter)
Companions All beans, all brassicas, celery, onion, peas
Incompatibles potato, pumpkin (cross pollinates)

Where to Grow Squash

Squash is a warm-season crop, very tender to frost and light freezes. Plan an average of 2 winter plants per person and two summer plants per 4-6 people. Summer squash can be grown almost anywhere, as the vines develop quickly. Harvest begins in 2 months. Winter squash requires a longer growing season and more garden space for sprawling plants. They generally do not tend to thrive in hot, dry regions where there is a limited water supply.

Recommended Varieties of Squash

Soil for Growing Squash

A light, fertile soil deeply enriched with well-rotted manure and compost to retain soil moisture, or with a well-balanced fertilizer before planting; squash are heavy feeders. In boron deficient soils, add 1 teaspoon of borax per plant.

Planting Squash

When –

When the soil is warm and the air temperature settled. Squash are susceptible to frost and cool weather. If the growing season is very short, seed can be started indoors in peat pots for transplanting outdoors 6 weeks later. Use peat pots with the bottom removed; squash do not like to have their taproot disturbed. It is best to transplant before the roots wrap around the pot. For direct sowing wait until the soil temperature is about 60 degrees, or until roses are in bud and lilacs are in bloom.


The hill method is simplest, since the soil can be deeply prepared for each hill before planting. To prepare, dig 18″ deep holes, fill partly with well-rotted manure and/or compost; complete filling with a mixture of soil and compost. Winter squash does not transplant well, but can be sown inside in individual pots to minimize root disturbance.
Traditionally 6-8 seeds are placed 1″ deep in each hole; when seedlings reach 3 inches, thin to two seedlings. Summer squash hills should be placed 3 feet apart each way; plant 6 or 7 seeds per hill and thin to the 3 strongest seedlings when the plants are 3 inches high. Or the seeds can be planted sparingly in rows three feet apart and thinned to 2 feet apart. Winter squash hills should be placed 6-8 feet apart each way; thin to the strongest 3 plants when the seedlings are 3 inches high.

How Squash Grows

Squash are spreading, vine-like plants with wiry, curly tendrils. Summer squash are more compact growing types called “bush”. The leaves are large, shaped somewhat like a maple leaf. The five-petaled squash flowers are very beautiful, with their yellow orange colors. Soon after the flowers wilt, the squash start to develop. Summer squash ripen in several days; winter squash take much longer to fully develop.

Cultivating Squash

The squash area should be kept free of weeds while the plants are young. Black-plastic or very heavy mulch is practical for such spreading vine plants, as weeding is difficult. Feed twice, immediately after thinning to the strongest 3 seedlings and again just before the vines start to “run”. The plants must have adequate moisture all through the growing season. Note: The popular notation that squash and melon cross-pollinate each other is a fallacy, although they can cross pollinate with other plants such as pumpkin.
Raise fruits off the ground to prevent rot. Use an A frame trellis to grow vines upright. Fabric row covers boost and prolong yields. In cooler climates, keep row covers on all season long; when female (fruit) blossoms open, lift the cover for 2 hours in early morning twice a week to ensure bee pollination, which is essential. To keep vines short for row covers, pinch back the end, choose the best blossoms, and permit only 4 fruits per vine.

Storage Requirements
Storage requirements: Summer squash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; don’t wash them until you are ready to use them. They can also be frozen, pickled or dried.
Cure winter squashes in a dark, humid place for 10 days at 77-86F; then store them at 50-59F in a moderately dry dark place for 5-6 months. Store only the best fruit. Don’t allow fruit to touch. Wipe moldy fruit with a vegetable oiled cloth. They can also be frozen or dried.
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
50-60F 60-70% 4-6 months (winter squash)
Method Taste Shelf Life
Canned Fair 12+ months
Frozen Good 8-12 months
Dried Fair 12+ months

Summer – 60-70 days. These squash are picked immature before they are fully formed. The skin should be soft and tender, otherwise the squash will be overripe and of poor quality. Check squash plants almost daily when they start to flower, as the fruit will develop in 2 or 3 days in hot growing weather. The vines must be kept picked or the plants will stop producing.
Winter – 90-120 days. When the stems turn a light green yellow color, the squash should be fully ripe. The rind will be thick and tough. Cut, do not pull, the ripe fruit from the plant. Two to three inches of stem must remain for proper storing. This may increase the sugar content.

Winter squash can also be picked before maturity, and can be eaten whole, just like the summer squash varieties. It has been said that rubbing winter squash with oil will help them last for several months.

Squash Pests

  • Squash bug – Pick the red-brown egg clusters when seen or use pyrethrum or rotenone. The insects can be trapped under boards set out at night and the pests destroyed in the morning.
  • Squash vine borer – Undetected until a vine suddenly wilts, in tunnels into the stem. The entry hole can usually be noted by the presence of excrement. Cut into the stem with a razor to kill the borer, then cover the split vines with moist dirt so it can reroot and continue growing.

Squash Diseases

None of major importance.

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