How to plant acorn squash?

Saving Acorn Squash Seeds

Before saving acorn squash seeds, you’ll first need to make sure you are dealing with an open-pollinated or non-hybrid variety, otherwise known as an heirloom. If you save seeds from a hybrid variety and replant them, you likely won’t get any squash. Most of the time, the result is a lush plant that doesn’t produce. If it does produce squash, you probably won’t be happy with the size or quality. Table Queen is probably the most commonly grown heirloom acorn squash variety, although others are available.

Step 1: Harvesting the Seeds

Once you know you have an heirloom variety, the next step is to harvest the seeds. It’s best to wait for the acorn squash to fully mature and then some before you remove it from the vine. Typically, if you are harvesting seeds from a squash, you want it to be over-ripe, to the point where it is soft and mostly inedible. The reason for this is that you want the seeds to be fully developed and mature. Many times the seeds you find in a perfectly ripe squash are still a bit immature.

Once you have an over-ripe heirloom acorn squash, cut it open lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and put them in an empty bowl. Using your fingers, remove most of the pulp from the seeds. Then, fill up the bowl with water and let the seeds settle for a few minutes. The healthy, viable seeds will sink to the bottom and the dead seeds and most of the pulp will float to the surface. When the seeds and pulp have separated themselves, use a slotted spoon to remove the dead seeds and pulp. Then you can put the good seeds on a paper towel to drain. Once most of the moisture is off, the seeds should be creamy white and ready for drying.

Step 2: Drying the Seeds

The next step in saving acorn squash seeds is to dry them out a bit. There’s a couple of ways you can do this. We’ve found the easist way is in a conventional oven. First, spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven, close the door and turn on the oven light. DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN. The ambient heat from the light is enough to dry out the seeds in about 36-48 hours. When they are dried enough, the seeds will be harder and they’ll have shrunk a little bit.

You can also save acorn squash seeds by using a food dehydrator. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on the dehydrator tray. Depending on the model, you may need to put the seeds on foil so they don’t fall through the trays. Drying times vary depending on the dehydrator model, but the seeds are usually dry enough in a day or two. The key is to use the lowest available setting and keep the seeds as far away from the heat source as possible.
A third option for saving acorn squash seeds is just letting them air dry. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet or foil and put them in a dry place, preferably away from the humidity of a kitchen. In most cases, the seeds will dry out enough in a few days. Again, you want them to harden up and shrink a little bit.

Step 3: Saving Acorn Squash Seeds

After the seeds are dry, you can put them inside an envelope and store them in a jar in your refrigerator. Make sure you label the envelope so you know what seeds it contains. If you are saving lots of different seeds, several envelopes can fit inside one, quart-sized jar. It’s also a good idea to put a tablespoon of dry rice at the bottom of the jar just to absorb any moisture.
Click on the following links to learn more about growing acorn squash.

How to Grow Butternut Squash from Seed

• Fill the holes with a mixture of compost or well rotted manure and soil and sprinkle fertilizer over the soil. Use a small tiller to turn the soil and mix in compost and fertilizer. The soil should be amended and fertilized as butternut squash plants are heavy feeders.

• Plant one plant on top of each planting pocket, approximately 1 inch deep and cover with soil.

• Water the plants gently with a watering can or spray with a garden hose.

Photo by Flickr/SummerAndStephen

Planting Squash Seeds Directly in the Garden

If you are planning to put seeds straight to the garden, be sure to plant them the same time as you would put out the transplants. The ideal space for growing the plants is a hilly part of the garden and so if your garden has several small hills, plant 4 or 5 seeds on each hill.

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After they sprout, thin down to 2 or 3 plants. The reason for taking out some plants is because butternut squash takes up much space as they produce extensive vines and might seem overcrowded if more than 3 seeds are planted in a small space.

Growing Butternut Squash in a Pot

If you do not have a kitchen garden and really want to have some butternut squash growing around the house, well, you can use a pot. However, you should know that not all butternut squash varieties are ideal for container gardening.

Trailing varieties are best grown in gardens while compact bush varieties such as ‘Barbara’ do quite well in pots. Use the largest pots you can find, say, those with a minimum of 18 inches diameter and just as deep.

• Prepare the soil by adding well-rotted compost and fertilizer. Mix well.

• Place the plants 1 inch deep in the pots and cover well with soil.

• Water gently with a watering can or a gentle spray of a hose immediately after planting. Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy.

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Caring for Butternut Squash Plants

When taken care of properly, healthy butternut squash can grow a lot bigger. Regular feeding is crucial as it will produce the most abundant crops. Here are some tips for caring for butternut squash.

Water regularly. Butternut squash plants are heavy feeders and drinkers too. So you need to provide them with adequate water throughout their growth period up to maturity. Watering will prevent the plants and compost from drying out.

Spray the plant gently with a garden hose or a watering can. Don’t put too much water as the soil will become soggy, and too much water may cause stunted growth. Just put enough water to keep the soil moist. This is precisely why you need to water regularly, about three times a week. If the weather is hot, make it four times a week.

Note that you should water the base of the plants rather than the leaves to prevent sunburn or powdery mildew.

Fertilize. Fertilize the plants throughout the growing season. Putting adequate fertilizer will produce a bumpy harvest for sure.

After the first fruits start to swell, feed the plants with high-potash liquid fertilizer for squash every 10-14 days.

Cultivation. In a few weeks, weeds will have started growing. You need to get rid of them before they start sucking all the nutrients from the soil. Cultivation should be done by hand or with a hoe. Do not cultivate too deeply to avoid damaging the roots — butternut roots are quite shallow.

Keep the bugs and diseases away. Healthy butternut squash can give you a good harvest, but only if you take proper care of the plants. Like many other plants, butternut squash is susceptible to pests and diseases. If you want a bumpy harvest, then you’ve got to keep the bugs and diseases off your plants.

The leaves can be attacked by squash bugs as well as striped cucumber beetles. Thoroughly inspect your plants for these bugs before they cause extensive harm. You will need to spray them on a regular basis with a pesticide to get rid of them.

Also, pay close attention to powdery mildew, another common threat to the butternut squash plant.

Photo by Ula Gillion

How to Harvest Butternut Squash

The squash will be ready for harvesting when the skin becomes hard and is extremely difficult to pierce with your thumbnail. Waiting for the skin to harden is important, because the squash can be stored for months without going bad.

• Harvest the squash before the first frost of the season. Do not wait too long to harvest as they might rot too quickly if they get exposed to frost.

• Cut the squash from the vines and leave a few inches of the stem intact. The stem prevents the squash from rotting fast.

• Store the inside right away — if you need to store them for a longer time, you can leave them outside to “cure” for a couple of afternoons.

• Store in cool, dry place.

Butternut squash is a valuable crop for eating during cold winter months. There are numerous recipes you can use to make incredibly delicious meals. They are even great for soups. They can either be boiled or roasted and are a great substitute for pumpkin in pie.

Ann Katelyn is a homesteader in Alabama whohas dedicated most of her life to gardening and botanical study with growing interests ranging from the popular, world-class roses to the rarest and most exotic orchids. She is currently trying her best to become well versed on plants found in desert areas, the tropics, and Mediterranean region. Connect with Ann on Twitter and her website, Sumo Gardener.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Commercial Squash Production

Bulletin 527 View PDF picture_as_pdf

Prepared by George E. Boyhan, Darbie M. Granberry, and W. Terry Kelley, Extension Horticulturists

  • Classification
  • Fertilization
  • Variety Selection
  • Planting
  • Weed Control
  • Irrigation
  • Diseases and Insects
  • Pollination
  • Harvesting and Handling

Classification

Squash (Cucurbita spp.) is a member of the cucurbit family, which consists of a number of warm-season vegetables including watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, and pumpkins. Squash are classified into several types based on fruit shape and color.

The most common forms of summer squash are yellow and zucchini squash. Yellow summer squash also comes in two forms: straightneck and crookneck. Zucchini squash is green and straight. Other forms of summer squash include patty pan or scallop, which is flat, round and usually white in color, as well as cocozelle or vegetable marrow, which looks much like zucchini squash. Most are bush types.

There is also another broad group of squash called winter squash. Unlike summer squash, which are harvested immature, winter squash are harvested at full maturity and thus have a much longer shelf life (several months up to a year compared with two to three weeks for summer squash). The use of the terms “winter” and “summer” squash are a bit misleading. Both are warm-season crops, but winter squash has traditionally been grown for winter storage. There are several types of winter squash based primarily on fruit shape and texture.

  • Acorn — Acorn squash are deeply ridged and tapered at one end. They have a dark green rind and a firm yellow flesh. They weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. Both bush and vining types are available.
  • Butternut and Waltham Butternut — These have cylindrical fruit that often bulge around the seed cavity. They have light tan rinds with orange flesh and are vining in growth habit.
  • Buttercup and Turk’s Turban — These turban-shaped squash have rinds that can be multicolored with green, orange, or gray stripes. The flesh is medium orange.
  • Spaghetti Squash — This squash is also called vegetable spaghetti. These cylindrical (8 to 9 inches long) fruit have yellow flesh that is stringy.
  • Hubbard — These are round in general shape but taper to a point at the bloom end. The rind is rough bluish-gray to green with occasional gray stripes. The flesh is orange-yellow in color.

Fertilization

Squash will grow on a wide variety of soil types with proper management. In all cases, however, the soil should be well drained. Previous crop history should also be considered when selecting a site. Avoid land that has been in cucurbits the previous year. Also check for previous use of long-residual herbicides as well as heavy nematode infestation (your county Extension agent can help in collecting a soil sample for nematode evaluation).

It is recommended that a soil test be performed to determine optimum fertilization for squash production. This will include a test for soil pH, which should be between 6.0 and 6.5. Changing soil pH is a relatively slow process, taking a minimum of two months to occur and usually taking four to six months based on soil texture.

Fertilizer can be broadcast prior to planting or banded (apply 2 inches below and 2 inches to the side of seed or transplants) at time of planting. Because nitrogen is readily leached from soil, it is always recommended. On Coastal Plain soils, nitrogen should be applied at 100 to 120 pounds per acre. On Piedmont, Mountain, and Limestone Valley soils, nitrogen should be applied at 80 to 100 pounds per acre. Table 1 lists typical recommendations for phosphorous and potassium based on soil test reports. Nitrogen is more efficiently utilized if applied in multiple applications. One such method is to apply half of the nitrogen and all of the phosphorus and potassium preplant.

Table I. Fertilizer recommendations based on soil test results*

Phosphorus/Potassium Ratings Low Medium High Very High
Recommended P 120 80 40 0
Recommended K 120 90 60 30
* Recommendations for nitrogen:
Coastal Plain – 80 to 120 pounds per acre
Piedmont, Mountain, and Limestone Valley – 80 to 100 pounds per acre
P – pounds of P2O5 recommended per acre
K – pounds of K2O recommended per acre

The remaining nitrogen should be applied in two equal applications. The first of these applications should occur when the plants are 8 to 10 inches tall and the second after the first harvest (to maintain production). Squash will also respond well to split applications of potassium.

Variety Selection

New varieties are constantly being developed. Check with your buyers, seed salespeople, and local county Extension agent for the latest information on new varieties.

Planting

Summer squash production in Georgia begins as soon as soil temperatures are warm enough for seed to germinate (minimum 68°F, optimum 70°; to 80°F). Summer squash will begin producing in 45 to 55 days from seeding. Summer squash are usually planted every 10 to 14 days to maintain production during the growing season. Although, theoretically, summer squash can be planted throughout the spring and summer up to 60 days before last frost, disease and insect problems generally curtail production during late summer and fall. About 4 pounds of seed are required per acre to plant squash (Table 2). This is based on a spacing of 3 to 4 feet between rows and 12 to 18 inches within rows.

Table 2. Seeding rate information for squash production

Winter squash, particularly vining types, require 80 to 120 days to mature. About 2 pounds of seed are required to produce vining squash types that are planted with 5 to 8 feet between rows and 2.5 to 5 feet within rows.

Squash also can be seeded or transplanted into plastic mulch with trickle irrigation. These practices can advance harvest by several days and increase yields. Research has shown that reflective mulches also may delay the onset of viral disease symptoms.

Weed Control

Both herbicides and cultivation practices can be used to control weeds. Weed control is important to insure maximum yields. Consult the current Georgia Pest Control Handbook or your local county Extension agent for the latest information on available herbicides for weed control in squash.

Irrigation

Squash require adequate moisture to produce high yields of quality fruit. About 1 inch of water is required each week during production. On sandy soils, higher amounts of water may be required with more frequent watering (i.e., 3/4 inch twice a week).

Diseases and Insects

There are several methods for controlling diseases and insects. Crop rotation, particularly with pasture grasses and small grains, can help reduce problems (particularly with nematodes). Viral diseases are often eliminated or reduced by planting early before virus-transmitting insects become a problem. Judicious use of pesticides also will reduce or eliminate many insect and disease problems. Consult your local county Extension agent or the latest edition of the Georgia Pest Control Handbook for chemical recommendations.

Listed below are several common disease and insect problems you may encounter growing squash.

  • Powdery Mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white powdery mildew on the upper leaf surface.
  • Downy Mildew appears as yellow or brown spots on the upper leaf surface. A gray fungus is apparent on the lower leaf surface, particularly in wet humid weather.
  • Viral Diseases are the most limiting factor to squash production, particularly during summer and fall months. There are several viruses that cause diseases in squash. Symptoms include a mosaic pattern on leaves that in severe cases causes a shoestring effect. Warty green areas can appear on the fruit of yellow summer squash.
  • Aphids are soft-bodied insects that often appear in clusters. They are 1/16 to 1/8 inch long and may be green, red, brown, or black. They suck plant juices and transmit viral diseases.
  • Cucumber Beetles are bright yellow beetles with either black stripes or spots on their wing covers. They are about 1/4; inch long.
  • Pickleworms are the caterpillar stage of a moth. They are mostly green and up to 3/4; inch long. Leaving signs of their entry by a small bit of fraise, these insects riddle the fruit with small (1/8 inch) holes.
  • Squash Bugs are 5/8 inch long flat-backed bugs that damage the plant by sucking plant juices. Masses of orange-yellow eggs can be seen on the underside of leaves. They emit a disagreeable odor when crushed.
  • Squash Vine Borers are white grublike caterpillars of a moth. They bore into the plant’s stem, which they damage by feeding on its interior. This will often result in collapse of the plant.

Pollination

Squash have both male and female flowers on the same plant; therefore, pollen must be transferred from the male flowers to the female flowers. With the decline of wild honeybees, growers must supplement wild bee populations with commercial hives. One hive for each acre is adequate. Hives can be placed throughout a field or along the edges in clusters. Care should be taken to insure shade and adequate water for the hives. Bees among clustered hives will forage further into a field because of competition among the hives.

Care should be taken when using pesticides with bees present. Avoid products that are particularly toxic to bees. Pesticide sprays should be applied only when bee activity is at a minimum in the field; this will occur on overcast days and in late evening.

Harvesting and Handling

Summer squash for fresh market are harvested every other day or three times a week during peak harvest. The fruit should be 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter with a glossy appearance. Squash are harvested with 1 to 1.5 inches of the stem attached. Zucchini squash should be about 8 inches long. Fruit should be harvested before it gets too large and seed becomes hard. Summer squash are not normally stored. They should be marketed as quickly as possible after harvest. If necessary, however, they can be stored for three to four days at 45° to 50°F and 85 percent to 90 percent humidity. However, they tend to deteriorate rapidly after storage.

The USDA has established two grades for summer squash: U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2. U.S. No. 1 grade consists of squash of one variety or of similar varietal characteristics with stems attached. Overall, no more than 10 percent of any lot can exceed the standards (size, damage, shape, etc.) with no more than 5 percent from serious damage and no more than 1 percent of serious damage from decay or breakdown. U.S. No. 2 grade consists of squash of one variety or of similar varietal characteristics with no more than 10 percent of any lot exceeding the standards. In addition, only 1 percent can be from decay or breakdown.
Winter squash are harvested one or two times when fully mature. Be sure the desirable color and size are reached before harvest. The rind should be hard and resist denting. Winter squash can be stored for several months without any appreciable deterioration.

The USDA has defined two grades for fall and winter type squash and pumpkin: U.S. No. 1 and U.S. No. 2. U.S. No. 1 winter squash must meet basic requirements as to variety, maturity, and absence of breaks or cracks. In addition, they must be free of soft rot or wet breakdown as well as scars, dry rot, freeze damage, dirt, disease, insects, and mechanical damage. Grades for U.S. No. 2 differ in having less stringent requirements for maturity as well less stringent requirements for damage.

More detailed information on USDA grades can be obtained from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service or from the Internet at www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/standards.

Appreciation is expressed to Wayne McLaurin, Extension Horticulturist; J. Danny Gay, Extension Plant Pathologist; and David Adams, Extension Entomologist, for their contributions to this publication.

Status and Revision History
Published on Feb 24, 2009
Published with Full Review on Jan 04, 2014
Published with Full Review on Aug 01, 2017

Planting Acorn Squash
A How-To Guide

When it comes to planting acorn squash, it’s best to sow the seeds directly into the garden or container. Acorn squash seedlings don’t like it when their roots are disturbed. So attempting to transplant seedlings usually leads to disaster. If you live in a climate where you need to start the seedlings indoors, use bio-degradable pots that can be planted in the ground without having to remove the young seedling.

Acorn squash should be planted no earlier than 2 weeks after the last expected frost in your geographic area. They can be planted up until 12 weeks before the first expected fall frost. In warmer climates, it’s possible to get two crops of acorn squash per year. The seeds do best when soil temperatures have warmed to 65 degrees F. Some people plant acorn squash as a second season crop after early spring plants such as peas and lettuce have finished. This can be a good way to maximize garden space.

If you are planting acorn squash in a traditional vegetable garden, make sure the soil is tilled down to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will allow the roots plenty of room to develop. A few days before we want to plant, we do a light tilling, and then scatter 17-17-17 fertilizer granules over the plot at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Because our soil is a bit acidic, we also scatter some lime. We then water in the fertilizer and lime, wait a few days and till again, going as deep as we can. This gets the fertilizer and lime mixed into the soil.

After the soil is well tilled, create mounds or hills about 12 inches across and 3-4 inches high. If you are planting the more common bush varieties, space the mounds 3 feet apart. This will give you plenty of room to till between the plants early in the season, aerating the soil and getting rid of weeds. For less common vining varieties, space the mounds 4 feet apart. If you intend to grow your squash organically, you can go ahead and mix some compost or well rotted manure into the soil when constructing the mounds. Remember to choose a location that gets 6-8 hours of daily direct sunlight.

After the mounds are created, use your finger or the end of a hoe or trowel to poke 2 holes into the top of each mound. The holes should be about 1 inch deep. Drop a single seed into the bottom of each hole and cover it with an inch loose soil. After you’ve finished planting the seeds, water them in thoroughly. When the seedlings reach 2 inches tall, thin to one plant per mound. Thinning is necessary to make sure the plants aren’t competing with each other for water and nutrients.

If you are planting acorn squash in containers, you don’t need to create mounds. Make sure to choose a bush variety of acorn squash and a container that is at least 24 inches across and 14 inches deep. Also be sure that there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Plant 2-3 seeds per container and thin to 1 plant per container when the seedlings reach 2 inches tall. Be sure to use good quality potting soil or top soil and water the seeds in well after planting. Remember to place the containers where they can get full sun throughout the day.

Now that you’re done planting acorn squash, the next step is to water and fertilize the plants.

Acorn Squash Growing Tips For Your Garden

Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo), so named for its shape, comes in a variety of colors and can be a welcome addition to any gardener’s table. Acorn squash belongs to a group of squashes commonly known as winter squash; not because of their growing season, but for their storage qualities. In the days before refrigeration, these thick skinned vegetables could be kept through the winter, unlike their thin skinned and vulnerable cousins, the summer squash. Keep reading to learn more about growing acorn squash.

Start Growing Acorn Squash

When learning about how to grow acorn squash, the first consideration should be space. Do you have enough to accommodate the acorn squash plant size — which is considerable? You’ll need about 50 square feet per hill with two to three plants in each. That’s a lot of ground, but the good news is that one or two hills should provide plenty for the average family. If the square footage is still too much, acorn squash plant size can still be squeezed in with the use of sturdy A-frame trellises.

Once you have allotted space for growing, acorn squash is easy to cultivate. Mound your soil into hill to keep the plant’s ‘feet’ dry.

When growing acorn squash, plant five or six seeds per hill, but wait until the soil temperature rises to 60 F. (15 C.) and all danger of frost is past since the seeds need warmth to germinate and the plants are extremely frost tender. These vines prefer temperatures between 70 and 90 F. (20-32 C.). While the plants will continue to grow at higher temperatures, the flowers will drop, thus preventing fertilization.

The acorn squash plant size makes them heavy feeders. Make sure your soil is rich and you feed them regularly with a good all-purpose fertilizer. Add plenty of sun, a soil pH of 5.5-6.8, and 70-90 days before the first fall frost and you have all that’s needed for how to grow acorn squash.

How to Grow Acorn Squash

When all seeds have sprouted, allow only two or three of the strongest to grow in each hill. Keep the area weed-free with shallow cultivation so as not to damage the surface root system.

Keep an eye out for insects and disease while doing your regular chores of gardening. Acorn squash are susceptible to borers. Look for the tell tale “sawdust” and act quickly to destroy the worm. Striped cucumber beetles and squash beetles are the most common pests.

Harvest your acorn squash before the first hard frost. They’re ready when the skin is tough enough to resist being pierced by a fingernail. Cut the squash from the vine; don’t pull. Leave a 1-inch piece of stem attached. Store them in a cool, dry place, laying them side by side rather than stacked.

Follow these acorn squash growing tips and come winter, when last summer’s garden is just a memory, you’ll still be enjoying the fresh fruits of your labor.

Growing Acorn Squash in Your Home Garden

Fresh Acorn Squash

See our easy tips for growing acorn squash and other other winter squash when vegetable gardening!

Free plans for planting, growing, harvesting, and storing winter squash in home vegetable gardens.

Design Your Own Vegetable Garden Layout Using our Free “Vegetable Garden Planner” Software!

There is something tasty for everyone in the vast winter squash clan!

Planting acorn squash that is produced on vigorous vines, requires considerable space as well as a long growing season.

As one of the smaller squash varieties, the fruit is named for its shape.

Plant this winter vining squash variety at one end of your vegetable garden.

Growing Winter Squash

Contrary to what its name suggests, winter squashes are warm-seasoned crops and are extremely sensitive to cold and frost.

Avoid planting the seeds until the soil has warmed.

Squash Blossom and Baby Squash Beginning to Grow

Direct seeding is the best method for growing winter squash.

If you are cultivating a variety that that requires a longer growing season than your area can provide, use healthy transplants to get a head start on the growing time.

Growing Acorn Squash

Squash Seed Sprouting into Seedling

Plant acorn squash in early spring to early summer depending on your climate.

  • A soil pH of 6.5 is recommended for growing acorn squash.
  • Leave a distance of 5 feet between hills and 6 feet separating hill-rows.
  • Growing acorn squash is planted like pumpkins, using extra compost in the hills.
  • Squashes prefer well-worked soil with good drainage.
  • They are heavy feeders so the garden bed must be well- fertilized.
  • Keep the ground evenly moist; the plants need plenty of water during hot weather.
  • Vining types of growing acorn squash can be trained to climb up a fence or trellis to save space.
  • The Early Acorn variety is ready in 75 days.
  • It produces fruit with an orange flesh and smooth texture on a compact plant.
  • The All America Selection acorn variety, Table King, has large fruit and is harvested in 75 days.

Baby Acorn Squash Forming on the Vine After Blossom Drops

Acorn Squash Pests

The squash vine borer attacks bush and running squash varieties alike.

Controls include mulching around the stem area.

Dust or spray with insecticide at 10- day intervals beginning near the end of June in most Northern vegetable gardens.

Check the directions for the sprays and dusts to note how near to harvest the product can be used.

Harvesting Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash Harvest and Storage

Growing acorn squash is ready for harvest in 80-100 days.

Winter varieties such as acorn squash taste quite different from the summer squash varieties such as zucchini and yellow crook necks.

Their sweet and nut-like flavor is best when the produce is fully ripened.

Before the fruits are harvested, the rinds should be bone-hard.

Many gardeners have trouble determining exactly when the time is right for harvesting.

The best advice is to go by the color shown on the seed packet.

Winter squash must be harvested before frost threatens.

Soup’s On

From the soup course to dessert, the sweet, orange-colored flesh of winter squash is used in countless culinary dishes.

Winter squashes such as acorn squash have been a staple among the “keeping” vegetables ever since Native Americans first introduced squash to the European settlers.

Baked Acorn Squash

Oven Fresh Baked Acorn Squash

For serving as a vegetable, prepare the small sized variety, Acorn squash, in halves or quarters.

Remove the seeds from the sections.

Scrape well to remove any stringy bits clinging to the surface.

Bake them uncovered in a 350 to 400 degree F oven on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Test with a fork; when flesh is soft, the squash is ready to eat.

My mom always brushed on some melted butter and added a lump of brown sugar to the squash before baking.

The result is quite delicious!

Winter-Squash Pie

Substitute cooked and mashed winter squash, freshly prepared or from the freezer, for pumpkin in your favorite recipe for pie filling.

Acorn squash can also be used to replace the main ingredients, rutabagas and apples in the delicious dishes, Spiced Rutabagas and Apple Pie.

Use 1-1/3 cups of squash, omit the applesauce, and increase the granulated sugar, depending upon your taste or preference.

Storing Acorn Squash for Winter Use

Acorn squash does not store properly unless they are vine-ripened.

Use any bruised fruits beforehand, as they will spoil under storage conditions.

Store acorn squash in a dry location at temperatures of about 50-60 degrees F.

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