Butternut Squash at the present time is my favourite “winter keeper” veggie next to garlic. Over the years I have successfully grown mostly Acorn winter squash and Zucchini summer squash. Both are winners if you have space in your home garden. There's a big change this year in that the bottom steep slope gardens are being turned into an 'orchard'. A fun gardening experiment so read on if you would like to know more. Of course Butternut Squash is really a simple plant to grow... If you have the space try squash - it is worth it…
Why Grow Butternut Squash ?
- The Squash I have grown this year is a non-hybrid Butternut Squash. The squash in the photo below were started from seeds given to me - along with several absolutely delicious large Butternut Squash last Fall. These squash store extremely well and are delicious cooked as a roast veggie or made into soup.
- I started the seeds inside with other vegetables under grow lights. Once the seeds started to sprout - wow did they grow. Remember to start your seeds inside to allow enough time and transplant outside after the last local Frost Free Day for your growing area. Also allow 3 to 4 days for the tender plants to adjust to the outside climate eg not in strong winds, hot sun or pouring rain!
- Next year I am going to seed outside direct in pots in the greenhouse at a later date. I like to sow my seeds such as tomato, kale, squash in larger pots. This uses more potting soil but is worth it as often I do not need to transplant the seedlings twice.
- Another Tip for transplanting Frost intolerant plants such as squash and tomato outside is to cover them with hoops and Remay cloth. I did this in Spring this year as we had a week of high temperatures (mid 30's C) and it protected them well in both circumstances (ie. frost @ night & high heat during the day). Plants may need protection as well from Fall frosts.
- Our plants are grown in well composted soil. They also will need fertilizer and lots of water when growing
- Our neighbours on one side do have a super veggie garden and grow summer zucchini. If you are concerned with cross pollination with the Butternut Squash check out the Links below
- This veggie is so easy to grow and takes about 100 days to mature and loves lots of sunshine.
Finding Garden Space to grow Butternut Squash
This can be tricky if you have a small garden space. Possible options:
- I have seen squash grown in a front yard spreading all over the grass. There were a lot of gourds so obviously a success. Saves on cutting the lawn? This year my squash "growing hills" (of compost) are in the flower gardens and 5 - 6 squash plants will be growing onto the back lawn this year.
- Option #2 (untried): Even though the squash when mature can be a heavy weight (2 ½ to 3 lb) if you are able to “support” the squash gourd perhaps vertical growing is worth a try.
- Possible Option #3: In a very large container. Not an option if you are away often during the summer with no-one to look after and water your gardens. I have tried to grow various squashes this way but was not very successful.
One of the reasons I am able to grow squash this year is that our 'steep slope' (main) veggie garden for the past decade+ has partial shade in more than half the garden and it is being turned into a permanent fruit ‘orchard’. So far this Mixed Fruit Orchard includes: 2 Black Currant bushes, 1 Gooseberry bush, 4 blueberry bushes, 50 strawberries and two small rows of raspberry bushes plus the ever faithful rhubarb.
There is still some sunny space left for four Rutgers heavy bearing tomatoes for canning, and in the partial shade Swiss Chard. There are also some comfrey and other herbs plus plants (like kale) that may have self seeded from the previous year. As well as three Butternut Squash plants which I started inside several weeks ago. Any spare ground remaining will be planted with herbs and a few wildflowers
It's all a fun experiment and I am hopeful it will be successful.
A main factor in growing this squash is that a healthy plant can produce 5 to 7 plus gourds which are very good “keepers” in a cool winter space like a garden shed or garage. They also weigh in about 3 lb each. Of course I cannot finish this article without including the delicious Roast Butternut Squash Soup recipe below. I think one of the reasons the soup is so special is that it has a nutty and sweet taste. Hmmmm...
Enjoy your time in your Veggie Patch. Spending time in the garden is a great way to reduce stress, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (and Vitamin D) and exercise.
Have fun in your Veggie Patch. Best wishes
~ Liz @CaramelParsley
“Gardening is the greatest tonic and therapy a human being can have. Even if you have only a tiny piece of earth, you can create something beautiful, which we all have a great need for. If we begin by respecting plants, it's inevitable we'll respect people.”~Audrey Hepburn (Actress)
Links & References:
- "Saving Seed of Pumpkins, Squash, Cucumbers, Melons and Gourds" South Dakota Uni Ext
- "Cross Pollination Between Vine Crops" Iowa State University Extension
- "Home Vegetable Garden Techniques: Hand Pollination of Squash & Corn in Small Gardens" University of Florida Extension https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS398
- Roast Butternut Squash Soup recipe - Simply the Best!" Recipe Caramel & Parsley (2023) https://caramelandparsley.ca/roast-butternut-squash-soup-the-best/
- Interested in turning your lawn into raised beds? "New Raised Bed Gardens for Spring" Caramel & Parsley (2020) https://caramelandparsley.ca/new-raised-bed-gardens-for-spring/
PS Check out the Gardening Category for other ideas from Caramel & Parsley.
Thanks ~ Liz