The Q&A Archives: Growing squash

Question: I'm planning my veggie garden now, and want to include butternut and acorn squash and - at my son's prodding - Lumina pumpkins from Burpee. I've never grown fall and winter-types of squash, nor pumpkins before and would appreciate any advice. Also, how long after harvest can you eat the squash - I've heard that they need to cure. Chris Reardon North Haven, CT (Zone 6)

Answer: To grow winter squash and pumpkins you will need patience and diligence. You will want to begin with well fortified soil and seed them 5 seeds per mound . Winter squash and pumpkins like lots of space to roam so be prepared for them to grow 10 feet or more or try bush varities. Squash also like warm soil so wait until night time temperatures have warmed to 55F to plant the seeds or seedlings. Planting the seed in holes in black plastic mulching the area will help to control weeds after the plants have started to grow. After you have thinned them to 2 or 3 plants per mound you need to start watering and checking for pests. Squash and pumpkins need about an inch of water per week. As you water start checking for the common squash pests so you can keep them under control if they become a problem.You should let them grow until they are fully mature, harvest before the first frost or when their full color has developed making sure to leave about two inches of stem. You can eat them when they are mature on the vine, but they taste better if they are allowed to cure outside for a few days and then 3-4 weeks indoors in a cool, dry environment such as a basement.

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