Common Name: Winter Squash
Varies widely with variety. Most have extensive vines and the fruits can be anywhere from a single serving to 12+ pounds.
Bloom Period/Days to Harvest:
Varies by variety. Generally 80 - 110 days
Winter squash are vining plants, but there the similarities end. For descriptions of the many types available for growing and eating, see Winter Squash Varieties.
Harvest winter squash before the first frost. As the fruits ripe, the skis will become a bit duller I color and the rind will be hard enough that a finger nail will not be able to dent it. To harvest, cut the fruits, rather than pulling, and leave about an inch of stem attached. Allow the fruits to cure in the sun for 7 - 10 days. Protect them from frost while curing. Then store in a cool (45 -60 degrees F) well-ventilated spot until use.
Use row covers to protect against squash bugs. Also remove egg sacks by hand. Wilting plants can signal squash vine borers. Slit open base of stem to physically remove.
Rotating crops and good air flow can usually deter diseases.
Please see Winter Squash Varieties
Winter squash is usually direct seeded in the garden, anytime after the last frost date
. Squash plants wont take off until the ground is warm, so dont rush planting. In areas with short growing seasons, transplants started 3-4 weeks before planting out, may be preferable.
Winter squash prefers a rich, well drained soil. Seeds are traditionally planted in hills, thinned to 3 plants per hill, about 3 feet apart. Squash plants have both male and female blossoms and they both must be present at the same time for pollination to occur. Having multiple plants with multiple blossoms will increase the chance of pollination.
Maintenance: Winter squash does not generally need mulching, because the long vines basically self-mulch. Be sure to provide regular water, especially once the fruits have been set.