Growing Butternut Squash

For our model we will be using the Waltham Butternut Squash.
Winter squash does not mean it can be grown during the winter. Squash is not self-pollinating therefore it will require bees and other insects to pollinate it. These insects are usually in hibernation during the wintertime.
The term winter squash refers more to the time it is sold than the time it is planted. Usually winter squash is planted in the summertime and harvested until the Fall but will keep well into February depending on how cool of a place you can store it.
Growing butternut squash cannot be done in the winter time. It is a hot weather plant and likes temps the high 80\’s to low 90\’s. Anything above this and they die. They also need bees to pollinate unless you want to do it by hand.
There is a zucchini variety called the Partenon which is an organic zucchini that is self-pollinating.
Fall is not a good time to plant winter squash or squash of any kind. Generally winter squash is larger and meatier than summer squash, which is squash grown during the summertime and harvested during the summertime but it does not have as long a shelf life as winter squash.
Winter squash usually requires at least one hundred plus days to mature depending on the variety, while summer squash can be ready in about fifty days.
The Waltham Butternut is the standard butternut. It is a light tan-colored winter squash with small seed cavities and thick, cylindrical necks without crooks.
The Waltham fruits are uniform, meaning \”the same\” and average about nine inches long and will weigh between four and five pounds. The flesh is smooth-textured and has a unique sweet flavor, particularly after 2 month’s storage.
The Waltham will mature in about one hundred and five days.
Growing butternut squash likes fertile, composted and well drained-drained soil.
To get an early start on your plants, sow three seeds in Three Inch CowPots using a soilless mixture like peat moss. Place the seeds in the mixture, cover about one quarter inch and water.
If you do not have good heating and lighting inside, then I suggest you try using a Heating Mat along with a Grow Light.
Using these two items will help growing butternut squash to produce strong, healthy seedlings.
Start your seeds about four weeks before the last frost. They should be about six inches tall by the time the weather has settled and the ground is ready for planting.
The CowPots can be put into a Seedling Tray along with a Clear Dome. This will help maintain temperature and moisture level increasing the number of seeds that will germinate.
I pour water into the tray and the pots will soak it up as the need it.
Transplant growing butternut squash out when the danger of frost has passed using a Hardening Off Procedure.
Some people say to thin the pots to one plant and put them in the garden eighteen to twenty-four inches apart.
But my dad taught me to plant three plants in mounds that are twelve to eighteen inches high and twelve inches across.
Dig a hole about four inches by four inches by four inches and drop the three-inch CowPot into the hole. Cover it up, water it using a transplant solution like Neptune\’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer to help reduce transplant shock for the growing butternut squash.
I would also recommend using organic Hotkaps to help protect the young seedlings. The HotKaps are biodegradable and can be tilled in when you are finished with them.
You use them by cutting slits in them and let the plants push through the slits.
The seeds can be direct sown after danger of frost has passed.
For insect control, I recommend using Safer Soap which is an organic insecticide that is safe for bees, animals and people.
Spray this on a regular basis to prevent any problems from developing.
Squash leaves are subject to various mildews so spray them on a regular basis with Activonate. Safer Soap and Activonate will help with most problems.
As the squash plants mature, you will want to lay down a layer of mulch to help maintain moisture which will help reduce your water bill, especially if you live in a hot area like I do where water cost more than electricity.
You can lay down a layer of your favorite mulch two to three inches thick. I like to use cypress mulch myself.
Or you can also use Planter\’s Paper which is a bio-degradable mulch that can be tilled in at the end of the season. It, like most anything organic, tends to cost a bit more, but the benefits to the plant is well worth it.
The Waltham is considered to be a non-hybrid or open-pollinated seed. This means that the seeds from this fruit can be saved and planted. This is important if you are looking for seeds to store for a survival situation or just want to save your own seeds to plant.
Processing your own seeds means you have more control over what types of chemicals are used in growing your squash.
Growing butternut squash can be a rewarding and stress relieving activity.
The squash can be left out for a light frost but need to be harvested before a heavy frost. A light frost will help add flavor.
Harvest by cutting stems about 1 inch from the fruit when stem is drying and skin is hardening. Handle fruits like eggs!
Cure in the field to dry and toughen skins by exposing fruits to sun for five to seven days or so, covering in the evening if frost is likely.
Store at 50-60° with 50-75% humidity and good air circulation. An accumulation of sub 50° exposure events causes chilling injury, reducing storage life.
They were still firm and showing no signs of spoilage but I decided to go ahead and cook them anyway.
Cut them open, clean out the seeds and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Once they cool down, scrape out the meat, mix with some cinnamon and butter and eat. The seeds can be baked as a snack. There are many recipes on the internet for cooking squash.

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