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How to Grow Winter Squash

Posted Mar 19 2009 4:29am

Winter squash is a frost-tender, warm-season annual. Winter squash is grown to maturity on the vine, until the skin is very hard (unlike summer squash which is harvested while the skin is still tender). Popular winter squashes include hubbard, butternut, acorn, delicious, banana, Turk's turban, cushaw, and spaghetti squash.


Sow winter squash seeds in the garden--or set out seedlings started indoors--only after the soil has warmed to at least 60°F, usually no sooner than 3 weeks after the last frost in spring. Winter squashes grow best in air temperatures ranging from 50° to 90°F; established fruit will ripen in temperatures as high as 100°F but flowers will drop in high temperatures. Winter squash require 60 to 110 days to reach



See all of the winter squash articles--including cooking tips: click here.


Description. Squashes are a large group within the cucumber family, Cucurbita, and include winter squashes, summer squashes and pumpkins. Winter squashes are eaten after they have matured and their skins have thickened and hardened. Some winter squashes grow fruit as long as 30 inches. Squashes have large, broad leaves; 4 to 6 stems or vines grow from a central root. Some winter squashes are sprawling; others are bush like. Fruits vary in shape from round, to oblong, to cylindrical to turban shaped. Separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant. Winter squashes have a distinct seed cavity unlike summer squashes.


Yield. Grow 1 or 2 summer squash plants per household member.


Site. Plant squash in full sun. Grow squash in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare planting beds in advance working in plenty of aged compost. Add aged manure to planting beds the autumn before growing squash. Squash prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Winter squashes will sprawl and require ample space; if space is tight train them over small A-frame or up a trellis as tall as 5 to 8 feet.

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