Winter squashes (Cucurbita spp.) are warm season tender annuals in the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, summer squash, melons, and gourds.
Plants need loose, fertile, well drained soil with plenty of organic matter and nitrogen and a pH 5.8-6.8. Fertilize seedlings with fish emulsion if leaves yellow.
Seeding Depth ¬Ω-1‚Äù
Plant spacing: for bush varieties 18-24‚Äù, for vining 24-36‚Äù
Row spacing: for bush, semi-bush and short vine types is 6‚Äô, for vigorous vining types use 9‚Äô. Plants can also be planted in hills of 3-5 plants in rows 3-5‚Äô apart (bush types provide less weed suppression so are typically planted closer than vining types) for easier tractor cultivation.
Days to maturity are from direct seeding, subtract 2 weeks if transplanting. Winter squash has a long season, requiring 90-120 frost free days to reach maturity, so it is usually transplanted in northern climates. It can also be direct seeded once danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures reach 70¬∞F. Start transplants indoors 3-4 weeks before last risk of frost. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 85-95¬∞F.¬†
Black plastic mulch can be used to increase soil temperature for earlier planting.
Harvest when fruits are full size and have a deep rich color and hard rinds that can‚Äôt be easily dented with a finger nail. Changing color of the ‚Äúground spot‚Äù from yellow to cream, gold or orange is another general indicator of ripeness. To harvest, cut stem at least 2‚Äù from the fruit: a short or broken stem can lead to rot. Cure after harvest by keeping in a warm, dry location for a few days then
Store at 50-55¬∞F with 55-75% relative humidity and good air circulation.¬† Delicata and acorn squash do not need curing, but will not store as long as other varieties.