The Q&A Archives: buttercup squash

Question: I live in Callifornia and just planted some buttercup squash. How do I take care of them? and do they do well here? Anita

Answer: Your first step in growing squash is to find the sunniest spot in your garden and prepare the soil by incorporating lots of organic matter. Squash is a tender vegetable. The seeds do not germinate in cold soil, and the seedlings are injured by frost. Do not plant until all danger of frost is past and soil is thoroughly warmed. Squash require 50 to 100 square feet per hill. Plant seeds one inch deep (four or five seeds per hill). Allow 5 to 6 feet between hills. When the young plants are well-established, thin each hill to the best two or three plants. Allow 7 to 12 feet between rows. Squash plants should be kept free from weeds by hoeing and shallow cultivation. Irrigate if an extended dry period occurs in early summer. Squash requires minimal care after the vines cover the ground. Bees are necessary for pollinating squash and pumpkins and are killed by insecticides. If insecticides are used, they should be applied in late afternoon or early evening after the bees stop visiting blossoms for the day. Winter squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, solid color and the rind is hard. Harvest the main part of the crop in September or October, before heavy frosts hit your area. Cut squash from the vines carefully, leaving two inches of stem attached if possible. Avoid cuts and bruises when handling. Fruits that are not fully mature, have been injured, have had their stems knocked off, or have been subjected to heavy frost do not keep and should be used as soon as possible or be composted (watch for seedlings in the compost). Store in a dry building where the temperature is between 50 and 55?F. For prolonged storage, do not pile squash more than two fruits deep. It is preferable, where space allows, to place the fruits in a single layer so that they do not touch each other. This arrangement minimizes the potential spread of rots.

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