The Q&A Archives: Squash Production

Question: I have four hills of butternut squash which have taken over a huge area from the edge of the garden out onto the grass. I can't be sure of the amounts, but there are at least 25 to 30 large squashes ranging from 5 to 12 inches long. There are also many small 1 to 3 inch squash. Should I let them all grow, or would it be better for me to cut off the babies so that the medium size plants can reach maturity? This is my first time growing butternut and I am thrilled with the quality and quantity of these squash. I have been heaping nice humus from the bottom of a mountainous pile of brown stuff (mostly leaves and decomposing wood) onto the vines wherever they send out roots, I think this has helped them to take in more water.

Answer: First of all, congratulations on your green thumb! The butternut squash plants sound very happy! To ensure the fruits grow to maturity, remove the smallest squash now so the energy from the plants will be directed into ripening the existing fruits. You always have a choice when growing squash -- pinch off the ends of the vines after they have set 2 to 3 fruit to help them ripen early in the season, producing large fruits, or let the vines sprawl where they may and continue to develop fruit, knowing that some will not reach full size and not ripen before the end of the season. Your strategy for encouraging additional rooting of the vines is a good one. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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