Butternut squash, or a cucurbit for beginners, a mix between a zucchini and a red kuri squash, isn't the most well-known, but is a very useful winter vegetable.
Common name : Butternut Squash
Scientific name : Cucurbita moschata
Family : Cucurbitaceae
Category : Veggies
Type of plant : Annual
Butternut squash can be grown like any squash or zucchini, and are harvested in October.
It can be planted from spring to summer, or transplanted as young seedling purchased commercially at the beginning of summer.
Seeding is very simple and can be achieved by even the most inexperienced gardener.
Growing them in a container with ripe compost is possible, but in that case the plant will spill out over the sides.
Sowing & planting
50 - 60
Identify my butternut squash
Butternut squash forms stems running along the ground which cover about 2 m2, the flowers are yellow, like those of courgettes, and the leaves are heart-shaped, rough, and green with shallow lobes.
Concerning varieties, it's more complicated! When you sow, take a photo and make a label for the exact spot where you planted as soon the young cucurbits all look alike, and you must wait for the first flowers or even the fruits (which can crossbreed with the other cucurbits in your garden...) to be set!
Sow my butternut squash
You can sow in open soil starting at the end of April, once the risk of frost has passed in your region, until the end of summer. Sow in seed holes (3 seeds in the same hole) 2 to 3 centimeters deep and keeping 100 cm between each seed hole. Water carefully, even spraying the substrate until sprouting. Mark the spot with a stick, this will be used for watering in a few months.
For inside seedlings, you can sow under shelter from March, avoiding the direct sun. You will avoid the stress of chasing slugs!
Sow in pans, 3 seeds per pot, on a bed of gravel or clay balls to ease drainage and prevent the roots from rotting. Add special potting soil up to 2/3 of the height of the container and tamp lightly. Then fill to top. Sow at 2-3 centimeters deep. Water gently.
Thin out my butternut squash
When the plants reach 8 to 10 cm of height, you can think about thinning out - often after two to three weeks. Remove excess plants or transplant them.
Plant my butternut squash
From the beginning of May, if there is no longer a chance of frost, and 4 to 6 weeks after having sowed if you did it under shelter, put in place your vegetable garden in loose, cool, and rich (you can add fresh compost to the planting hole) soil in the sun. Careful: squash needs to be pollinated in order to bear fruits. It is therefore necessary to have several plants — male and female! - to encourage the crop.
Leave a space of about 2 square meters for a each plant. Water generously after planting and the following two weeks. Mark the spot with a stick, this will be used for watering in a few months.
Mulch my butternut squash
Mulch between the plants one to two weeks after the final planting, using a natural mulch which holds in moisture. This will limit evaporation from the soil, and thus the need to water and to weed.
Water my butternut squash
Water the seedlings and new plantings two times a week without wetting the foliage!
In summer: your butternut squash is thirsty: the leave lean towards the ground at the middle or end of the day. Easy to recognize!
Water generously, 2 or 3 times a week, and once less if you mulch, more if drought occurs.
Water the base with wetting the foliage to prevent powdery mildew.
Weed my butternut squash
Weed regularly during the entire growth period, even if it means changing the mulch from time to time: you will prevent some diseases from infecting your squash.
Reap my butternut squash
The harvest takes place in autumn when the fruit has a beige hue, the skin hardens, and the stem starts to lignify. The fruits are sensitive to a damp ground. Place them on a stone or a board.
Check on my butternut squash
Watch for slugs which can devour the young plant in just one night. These pests can easily be diverted from your precious vegetables by an offering of beer or flour placed away from your crops (get the cheapest, they aren't very difficult to satisfy).
Squash counts on the wind and bees to pollinate between the male and female flowers. Thus, if the weather is humid, and bees are rare, give them a little help. Use a brush and play matchmaker by rubbing the male flowers (that carry pollen), then transfering the pollen to the female ones.
Zucchini sensitive to powdery mildew (which develops due to excessive moisture on the leaves): this thin white film covers the leaves, like a powder.
It's a fungi which sucks up the sap to the extent of exhausting the plant, which will end up weakening itself, and in certain cases, dying.
An adequate and timely treatment is essential to stop powdery mildew, which can contaminate other Cucurbitaceae plants in your garden including squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons.
Cut off and destroy the diseased leaves as soon as powdery mildew appears — never compost them! Use pruners disinfected with 90° rubbing alcohol in advance and wipe them after each coop.
Then, spray on a solution of 5 g baking soda per liter of water with a teaspoon of soap.
Remove my butternut squash
Once the last fruit is harvested, don't forget to pull out the plants to make room for autumn plantings! Correctly remove the roots and avoid composting the remains if the foliage shows signs of disease.
Dibble my butternut squash
Starting in the beginning of May, once there's no more risk of freezing and 4-6 weeks after sowing if you sown under shelter, transplant in open soil - rich and deep and sunny.
One important note : you will need a couple of plants and not just one for efficient cross-fertilization.
Make sure each plant has enough room - 2 m2 for each, water thoroughly after transplanting and for the following 2 weeks.