Butternut squash is a kind of winter squash (Cucurbita moschata). Many growers wonder when to plant butternut squash to yield the best harvest, and this is no surprise given how tasty and easy to grow this product is.
The squash starts with bright green skin, but the skin or rind becomes beige when it’s ready to harvest in the fall. The meat is thick and orange-colored. Butternut squash may be roasted and used in soups, or it’s delicious boiled, mashed, and served instead of mashed potatoes.
Vitamin A is abundant in this healthy vegetable, which is officially a fruit. Butternut squash plants grow as annuals in practically any environment. If you’re pondering when to plant butternut squash seeds, the answer is relatively straightforward.
A Guide to Butternut Squash Growing Season
Butternut squash growing season takes approximately 110-120 days. Butternut squash generally has a long growing season, but if your local season is short, it’s best to start your seeds in the spring, after the last frost has passed.
Their vines grow swiftly, but the squash takes three to four months to mature for harvesting from planting. Roasting, mashing, boiling, and more makes butternut squash much-loved and versatile in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise many gardeners are asking when to plant butternut squash in their home gardens.
Butternut squash growing season begins when any danger of frost is over, and the soil is sufficiently warmed by the sun to 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Butternut squash plants are highly delicate.
The slightest cold kills the seedlings, and butternut squash seeds only germinate in warm soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth. Even with row covers, first frost or last frost destroys these plants if grown outside of their frost-free growing season.
When to Plant Butternut Squash in Your Home Garden
Butternut squash requires a lot of area in your home garden. A minimum of fifty square feet of growing space must be available for each hill. Butternut squash seeds grow vines up to 15 feet long, so plan accordingly.
When to plant butternut squash seeds and a good time to plant spaghetti squash depends heavily on the weather. Check the forecasted last frost date for your area to understand when to plant butternut squash seeds.
Like the ideal time to plant zucchini in zone 6, begin your butternut squash seeds indoors where they are safe from the danger of frost. The best time to plant squash is six weeks before the average last frost. Fill peat pots halfway with planting soil and two seeds each. Fill the plant containers with water and place them on a full sun windowsill.
Keep the soil moist. If both seeds germinate in a pot, choose the healthiest seedling to maintain for transplanting and pinch out the other.
If you forgot to start your butternut squash seeds or prefer to work with pregrown seedlings, check your local garden center and purchase seedlings ready to transplant. Remember to slowly introduce your seedlings to the outdoors to let them harden off before planting them permanently after the last frost.
When to Plant Butternut Squash Seeds by USDA Zone
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are the gold standard for assessing which plant species grow in a given environment. The local cooperative extension is an excellent source of information if you have a specific query, such as when to plant butternut squash in zone 6.
Your local cooperative extension answers questions like when to plant butternut squash in zone 7. They help you identify the best butternut squash varieties for your location and even point you in the right direction for buying butternut squash seedlings.
If you’re wondering about when the best time to plant butternut squash, contact your local cooperative extension office for further information on everything from acorn squash to summer squash and more.
How and When to Plant Butternut Squash
Typically, butternut squash are good veggies to plant in April depending on your growing zone. Once the danger of frost passes, it’s time to plant your butternut squash seedlings in the garden.
Butternut squash is commonly planted in threes to form a hill in the garden. Make hills a minimum of 8 feet apart and amend with compost, manure, and other materials ahead of time.
Plant the seeds in clusters of four or five seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Thin them to the variety’s recommended spacing interval when the seedlings appear.
The fruits forming on the vines do not require a trellis but place something beneath them to keep them from contact with the soil. Adding a platform creates a dry place for the fruits to sit and prevents them from rotting. Use wooden boards, flat rocks, blocks, or straw mulch to lay under them.
Care during Butternut Squash Growing Season
Once you understand when to plant butternut squash seeds to cultivate seedlings and when to plant butternut squash out in your garden, you have to know how to take care of your butternut squash plants.
These squash plants require full sun for at least 6 hours every day. It’s okay if the plants spend more time in the sun, provided they don’t get too hot. Squash is a cold-sensitive plant and won’t germinate unless the soil temperature is over 70°F.
Butternut squash plants enjoy being in the sun, although they sometimes become overheated. It’s natural for the leaves to wilt a little in the afternoon during hot summer days, then recover once the sun goes down. If your plants aren’t reviving, try putting them in the shade in the afternoon.
Organic matter should be abundant in the soil, and it must drain effectively and be slightly acidic to neutral. Seedlings shouldn’t be left to dry out.
As the summer advances, the plants require even more water, and the vines get larger. Leaves wilt regularly in hot, dry weather, but they regenerate as the day progresses. If the plants’ leaves are wilted early in the day, water them immediately.
Fertilizing during Butternut Squash Growing Season
Butternut squash plants are heavy feeders. Begin with rich soil, then add organic compost or aged manure as a side dressing as they grow. Apply a manure tea or liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks to ensure your squash has all the nutrients required for a bountiful harvest.
Pour manure tea directly onto the soil to enrich it and support your butternut squash plants. Fertilize butternut squash plants regularly to achieve the best fruit growth and highest yields.
Butternut Squash Pests
Once you’ve figured out when to plant butternut squash seeds and your plants are growing nicely, it’s essential to protect them from pests.
Squash bugs are a well-known pest plaguing all squash varieties and other cucurbits, including acorn squash, summer squash, kabocha squash, delicata squash, hubbard squash, buttercup squash, zucchini, and more.
Also known as cucumber beetles, these pesky insects are easy to spot on the leaves and stems of your squash plants, along with their eggs. Thankfully, squash bugs are simple to address using a homemade insecticide that won’t hurt beneficial pollinators necessary to ensure male flowers and female flowers achieve pollination.
Powdery mildew is another common squash pest. Use neem oil to combat powdery mildew fungus in your garden. Neem oil is an effective management measure if applied as soon as the first indicators arise, which may appear as small white spots on butternut squash plant leaves. This natural fungicide kills powdery mildew spores.
To suppress powdery mildew spores, blend and spray all plant surfaces, making sure to cover every leaf. Use pruners to snip off dead or dying infected leaves and prevent fungal spore spread.
Harvesting Butternut Squash
Once you understand when to plant butternut squash seeds and have cared for your plants, the next stage is to harvest and enjoy delicious squash from your home garden. To identify when to harvest butternut squash, look at the color of the fruits.
As the summer progresses, their rind develops a pale beige color. When the fruit is ready to pick, the skin frequently has bronze highlights but no green streaks. There are additional signs to assist you in determining the maturity of butternut squash.
Butternut squash is easy to grow and has a great taste, so you can’t go wrong if you plant a few in your home garden. Whether you’re a newly started grower or an experienced gardener, if it’s butternut squash growing season in your area, think about taking advantage of the best time to plant this tasty treat.
Butternut squash is delicious and versatile, in addition to being easy to can and store for later.
Butternut squash is tasty when roasted or boiled, and it makes a delicious pumpkin pie alternative. The possibilities are infinite once you learn how to cultivate butternut squash, and your friends and family will appreciate you sharing your bounty.
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