Ways to Grow Butternut Squash
With its sweet, nutty taste, butternut squash is among those popular winter squash varieties that are also rich in nutrients. It is believed that these squash plants have been cultivated in Mexico and certain other regions of the world, for more than thousands of years. Even today, it is widely cultivated and used. These plants can be easily grown in home gardens, if you know the right methods. Though butternut squash is an easy-to-grow plant, it has some basic requirements that have to be met with, if you want a good yield.
Growing Butternut Squash
As we all know, butternut squash is a winter squash. This does not mean that they grow in winter, but they are easily available in winter. So, these plants are usually planted during the spring, so that the fruits get ripe before winter. They are delicate plants that cannot tolerate cold and frost. The following guidelines are about how to grow butternut squash in your garden.
- As mentioned above, butternut squash plants are planted in early spring, after the last frost. This applies to those who sow the seeds on outdoor soil. If you want to sow seeds before, sow them in peat-filled pots that are kept in a warm indoor location.
- In case you want to sow seeds outdoors (only after the soil gets warm after the last frost), make small hills of soil that have a distance of six feet in between. Sow four seeds per hill and make holes of around one inch depth for this purpose. These holes must be at least five inches apart.
- The location for sowing butternut squash seeds must have fertile and well drained soil. The location must also provide the plants with a good amount of sunlight. Watering must be done moderately, soon after sowing. After that, moderate watering once in every three days is enough, till the seeds germinate.
- As the plants grow to a height of around four to five inches, you have to remove the weakest seedling from each hill and retain the three healthy ones. This gives enough space for these plants to spread their vines.
- In order to grow healthy butternut squash plants, feed the plants on a regular basis. It is said that small amount of fertilizer can be applied once in every week, if this squash is planted in sandy soil. In case the soil is loamy or clay, then feeding once a month will be sufficient. You may also enrich the soil with compost or organic matter, before sowing seeds or planting the seedlings.
- If you want big butternut squash, feed the plants as they start producing flowers and fruits. It will be beneficial to pinch of the tips of main vine leaders, when they reach around two to three feet in length. This will encourage growth of lateral vines that produce flowers and fruits.
- Another important aspect with regard to butternut squash plant care is pest control. As these plants are prone to various pests and diseases, you have to take required precautionary measures. If you notice any signs of pests of diseases, contact a horticulturist or local nursery authorities for a proper remedy. If you have to use insecticides or other such products, make it during evening, so that the pollinating insects are not affected.
- You can harvest the ripe fruits that will have hard rind and long stems (around two inches). The ripe fruits will have a golden tan skin without any green spots. While harvesting, make sure to keep the stem intact with the fruit. Harvesting of ripe as well as unripe fruits has to be done before the first frost. Once harvested, clean them with a soft cloth and store them in a location that is clean, dry and cool. You can store them as such, for at least five to six months.