This guide on how to grow butternut squash will teach you how to plant butternut squash seeds and care for butternut squash plants, and when to harvest butternut squash.
Butternut squash is a sweet tasting squash that can be enjoyed in so many ways. Whether you want to roast it, puree it into soup, or even use it to make baby food, you will find that it is an easy squash variety to grow! If you are considering a squash variety this year, look at these tips on how to grow butternut squash. These tips can help you grow enough squash to last all through the winter months! Here is what you need to know:
How to Grow Butternut Squash
How to plant butternut squash seeds:
Spaghetti squash is a fall bloomer but does require lots of time to mature. To get a head start, you can start your seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the last frost of the winter season. When planting butternut squash seeds, you should use peat pots that can be planted directly in the ground along with the seedling in order to leave the roots as undisturbed as possible.
When planting your butternut squash seeds, use a nutrient-rich soil, keep the soil moist at all times, and provide the seeds with at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. No sun? No problem! You can always use an artificial light source to warm the plants and encourage germination.
How to plant butternut squash seedlings:
Butternut squash seedlings won’t like to be planted until the threat of frost has passed. When the soil temperature has reached 70 degrees, then you can prepare to transplant. Choose a planting space that gets partial to full sun, has soil that drains well, and has at least 50 square feet for the squash to grow.
Use the mound method when planting butternut squash seedlings. To plant the seedlings, create a mound that is 3 inches tall. You want the mound to be at least the length of the root of your seedling and at least 3 times the width. Add lots of compost and fertilizer to your mound, as butternut squash seedlings are big eaters!
Now just place the seedling in the mound and add some loose soil around the base. If your seedlings are at least 3 inches tall, one seedling per mound is advised. If your seedlings are still young, add three and then thin out the weaker seedlings in a few weeks.
Once your butternut squash seedlings have been planted, use some compost around the mound to add some nutrients to the soil, and place some mulch around the base of the plant to help keep roots moist. Butternut squash appreciates cooler soil, and mulch can help with that. Re-apply through the season as needed.
Butternut squash needs a good 50 square feet to grow. Because of this, you should avoid planting in containers. Spacious raised beds will work for this plant, but you should avoid any type of container or pot.
How to care for butternut squash seedlings:
Butternut squash plants do best when watered evenly, so keep that in mind when feeding. Apply water directly to the base of the plant to better feed the roots and keep the outer foliage from burning. You can help keep roots and soil cool by applying a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant.
Because butternut squash is a heavy feeder, feel free to feed with a liquid plant food or fertilizer every 3-4 weeks. Keep the fertilizer at the base of the plant to avoid foliage burning as well.
How to prevent pests on butternut squash plants:
This sweet squash can be a favorite among critters. You may see squirrels and even raccoons who want to nibble. Providing garden fencing can help keep those pests at bay. You can also find some over the counter pest sprays that are supposed to repel larger garden pests that would love to dine! If you spot bugs, take care to remove these pests by hand or use a natural and food safe pest control spray.
When to harvest butternut squash:
While butternut squash needs about 3.5 months to mature, the skin of the squash will tell you when it is ready to be harvested. Most varieties will be ready mid-fall and should be collected before the first frost of the winter season. Cut the butternut squash from the vine when the skin is hard and can’t be pierced with a fingernail.
Once harvested, you can store the squash in a cool and dry place where it will stay fresh for weeks. As long as the skin remains intact, it will protect the inner fruit well. There are all sorts of ways to enjoy this nutritious squash, and as mentioned it can even be enjoyed in baby food recipes.
Consider these tips on how to grow butternut squash and get growing!