Common Name: Curbita spp.
Type and Use: Annual vegetable with edible flowers and fruit
Location: Full sun
Planting Dates: For spring, plant after all danger of frost. For fall, plant 12-14 weeks before the first average frost. In general, April 1 - May 15 and July 10 - August 15. Butternut will split and leak if planted in spring. It’s better to plant for the fall garden in central and south Texas.
Planting Method: Seed is the most common method but squash can also be started from transplants. Plant 3-5 seed per hill about ½ - 1 inch deep.
Seed Emergence: 3-10 days at 68-85°.
Harvest Time: In summer, usually 42-70 days. In winter, 80-120 days. Harvest summer squash any time. The young fruit are delicious. Don’t harvest winter squash until they are fully mature. Squash can be a very early crop if started in pots and transplanted.
Height: High climbing or bush form.
Spread: Wide spreading
Final spacing: Hills or rows 4-5 feet apart. Plants 24 inches-6 feet.
Growth Habits: Squash is a big, dramatic-leafed annual vegetable that varies greatly in growth characteristics. It is fast-growing and has several problems.
Culture: Plant in well-prepared healthy soil. Use as many plants as you have room for. Pests seem to hit the smaller plantings for some reason. Use lots of compost, lava sand and mulch. Add Texas greensand in alkaline soils and high- calcium lime (calcium carbonate) in sandy acid soils.
Fertilize when flower buds or flowers have formed. Use a handful of organic fertilizer per plant.
Troubles and Solutions: Garden fleahoppers, flea beetles, cucumber beetles, aphids, and squash bugs are controlled with citrus sprays or biological sprays. Control cutworms and other caterpillars with Bt products. End nematode problems with citrus pulp tilled into the soil prior to planting the seed. Powdery mildew, viruses, and other diseases are controlled with a basic organic program and weekly sprays of Garrett Juice plus garlic and potassium bicarbonate.
Harvest and Storage: Harvest and eat summer squash any time the fruit is large enough to eat. Summer squash can be stored a short time in cool, dry places. Winter squash should only be harvested after it has totally matured. It has a longer storage life. Cut it from the vine only after the skin has hardened.
Notes: Some gardeners help pollination by using a cotton swab to dab the pollen of the male flower onto the female flowers. Females are those with a swelling behind the petals. Yields are greatly reduced if mature fruit is left on the plants.
Squash is native to the US, and is pollinated by our native bumblebees, not by honey bees, which are not native. In some areas there are no bumblebees, and they should be hand pollinated.
Varieties: Summer varieties include Tatume, Butterbar, Dixie, Zucchinni, Early Pro Lific Yellow, Straightneck, Miltipik, President Senator, Royal Acorn, Spaghetti, Yellow Crookneck, Pattypan. Multipik is supposed to be the most immune to pests.
Winter varieties include Early butternut, Acorn, Tahitian, Turbin, Buttercup, Hubbard and Table Ace. Tahitian is a very large heirloom squash. The seeds are in the big end. Cut off as much as needed to cook and eat while leaving the rest in the refrigerator for later. This is the best squash for making pumpkin pie.