Growing Butternut Squash

Eating and growing butternut squash is really satisfying especially when you make a soup knowing that it has all come from your hard work. and if taken care of when harvested they last a long time.

These can take up a lot of room as the stem run along the ground and produce flowers or squashes along them.

I once had a very long garden so let them run riot at the end of it. They were everywhere and needless to say I had a very good crop.

The Stages of Growing Butternut Squash 

Butternuts tend to need a fairly long and warm even hot growing season so it is best to get ahead and time the seed planting so that the plants have maximum frost free time growing outside.

There are varieties that ripen earlier than others so that could be a good choice.

Planting or sowing the seeds

I usually think about planting seeds in March to get things ready.

They can be planted in April, May or June. Place one or two seeds in a pot with compost, water and leave in a  warm place.

A sunny windowsill is good and they should germinate or sprout in about 10 - 14 days depending on the temperature.

Planting out

After the risk of frost has gone which in the UK can be quite late in the year compared to other countries.

This can be done in May or June. The plants need a moist and fertile soil in a sunny spot.

They need some type of feed every two weeks and water as necessary. The UK has varying degrees of summer from no rain at all to far too much. 

It is fun seeing the fruits appear and when they begin to grow, it is a good idea to lift them off the ground to protect them from the wet soil and pests. Use wood planks, bricks or anything else that will not inhibit their growth.

Harvesting

Gradually as the weeks pass and the fruits get bigger they will change from a yellowy / green colour to an orange / beige.

They need to ripen on the vine for as long as possible so the skin can toughen up and this then makes them last longer when picked.

Depending on the variety they can be picked in July, August, September or October.

I see these as a winter food for soups and stews so usually leave them for as long as possible and keep a check on the weather especially any signs of an early frost.

Nutritional Value

These have a lot of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium; and it is a source of vitamin A.

Cooking Ideas

For me soup is the meal of choice in winter and squashes make lovely soups.

They can also be eaten roasted and then stuffed, placed in casseroles, pies and can be used mashed to thicken stews.

Personal Experience of growing butternut squash.

I have grown these for a few years and have harvests of huge quantities and large fruits down to one fruit the size of a coffee mug.

Some years they just don't grow.

So don't get disheartened and try again the following year.

Enjoy growing your butternut squash 

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