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I have questions about winter squash

Posted by engineeredgarden 7,nw Alabama (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 20, 08 at 10:40

I've never grown any winter squash before, and will attempt to do so this year for my wife.I've tried to read as much info as possible, but can't find all the answers. It is my understanding that these types of squash really take up alot of space.Even more so than summer types.Is this true? The types that I will attempt to grow are : butternut,buttercup, and spaghetti.If these can be trellised,I have a very good setup for them - if not,i'm gonna have to plan ahead for the spacing in my raised bed.Below is a photo of my trellises, as I was constructing the garden.I'm really desperate for information on this.I will direct sow on august 1st, after my current vegetables are finished producing.First frost date is typically around November.Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Depends on the cultivar you choose. Most popular winter squash have bush versions which take about the same space as summer squash. The vining types can be trellised, but they don't climb really well, you will have to give them some help. You may want to carefully consider your cultivars as most winter squash take 3-4 months to mature. They also really slow down, when the daylengh decreases.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Ok, thanks for the quick reply. It's no problem for me to give them a little help, I tend to my garden WAY too often. My wife thinks i'm in love with it, or something. Anyway, I got my seed packs at Lowes, and they were the most common cultivar - I would think. Do you think I may need to start the seeds in peat pots, maybe 2 or 3 weeks earlier than I had originally planned?


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

They usually do better direct seeded, but if you don't have space, maybe planting them in cups ( I shy away from peat) maybe two weeks in advance may be helpful. You are going to pressed maturity time. You just need to get them into thier final setting before they have true leaves.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

In that photo you seem to have quite a bit of shade in the garden area. How does it do for sun exposure from the Aug-Nov timeframe you had mentioned? Reason I asked, you are gonna be raceing against time for maturity, and they really need sunlight.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Great looking trellis, it looks very sturdy. I am also in zone 7 I planted my winter squash last week. I felt like I was getting a late start, I don't know that you will get many squash if you plant that late. The MD Cooperative Extension lists the planting dates for winter squash as May 15 - June 15. Summer squash take up no space at all compared to winter squash. If you can't plant until August because other plants are in the way you could try planting the seeds amongst the existing plants about a month before you expect to remove the other vegetables. Assuming that there is a little space for the seedlings to get light that would be perfect because the squash will be starting to vine as you remove the other vegetables. Be careful not to disturb the squash roots if you do it this way.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

farmerdilla - thanks for the info, you have been very helpful. I just now thought to look at my seed packets - to get the info off of them. Spaghetti squash is burpee, and I see that from seed to maturity is 100 days (WOW!)I see what you're talking about. Ok, let's see...Burgess buttercup is next - days to harvest is 95 days. One more - waltham butternut, 85 days to harvest. Alright, i'll have to do some planning, maybe I can start them in containers - then transplant when the other squash are done. I am using Mel's mix, and it's really easy to transplant things - if you don't disturb the roots. Can you tell me which, if any - of these are vining types that would really enjoy growing on a trellis?

meteor - this photo was taken at 8 am, before the sun had risen above the trees surrounding my property. Thanks for your concern, though. This garden gets around 8 to 9 hours of direct sunlight right now, and should still get at least 6 to 7 between august and september. I really don't know about October.

Trev - thanks for the compliment on the trellises. Do you know if any of these will enjoy the trellises? In the picture, cucumbers are currently being grown on one of the taller trellises, and canteloupe on the other tall one. I figured sometime in August they would be finished producing, and I could put the winter squash transplants in their place. I'm doing sqft gardening, and everything's really tight right now - so, I don't feel that I would be able to put small plants under the current summer varieties. I just had an idea....maybe I could start them in milk jugs, with some drain holes drilled into the bottom, and then I could just take a razor knife and cut the plastic away from the root mass - when ready to transplant. I'm thinking about doing that tomorrow morning. What do ya think?


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

One thing to keep in mind about the days to maturity is that it is not when the plant is done producing it is when the plant starts producing. Meaning that around 100 days you should be getting your first spaghetti squash ready for harvest, but the squash don't all form and ripen at the same time.

All of the varieties should be able to grow on the trellis. The fruit should be able to hold themselves up, but supporting the fruit wouldn't be a bad idea. The buttercup squash is supposed to be more compact than the other two, but I haven't grown it so I can't speak from experience. You should definitely do whatever you can to get them started as early as possible, milk jugs are a good idea just be careful not to disturb the roots much. The best thing about starting them that late will be that the squash vine borer should be done destroying plants by that time.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Agreed, all of these have Rampant vines. The spaghetti and buttercups are very susceptible to SVB so watch that if you planting them after your summer squash.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Thanks trev and fd, you have helped me tremendously. I started seeds this morning in plastic gallon milk jugs that I cut the top 1/3 off with a razor knife, and drilled some drain holes in the bottom. Trev - you made an excellent point, that I haven't thought of - on the maturity date situation, thanks. I'll have to see how long the plants can go in the milk jugs, before removing the summer varieties - so these can be transplanted. I'm excited! woo hoo!


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seedlings

Trev and farmerdilla - here are the starts as of yesterday (6/29/08). I took a sharpie pen and wrote the abbreviated names on the back of the jugs.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Update.... I had one of the trellises become available about a week ago because of puny growth on one of my melon vines, so I transplanted the spaghetti squash in the garden. It has doubled in size, since being in there. I have moved the butternut seedlings to at a ceramic pot that holds at least 5 gallons. I really mounded the soil on top, to give the roots as much room as possible. I'm thinking about trying to grow it in there, giving it a makeshift trellis to run on. Does anyone think that this will work? It's not going to kill me if it doesn't make it- i've never even tried winter squash before, so I don't even know what they taste like. I'm just growing them for my wife, who loves them - and I have to admit, that I like to try new foods. I chose to put the spaghetti squash in the available spot in the garden, because it is more appealing to me.

EG


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Is the dirt above the rim of the pot? When growing in large pots it is generally a bad idea to have the soil closer than 1 inch below the rim of the pot. This is because the water won't be able to soak into the soil it will simply flow over the rim of the pot. If you have the soil mounded you need to be sure the plant gets enough water. They make plastic or terracotta stakes, that most garden centers carry, that allow you to use a 2-liter bottle to water the roots of the plants. I wouldn't consider 5 gallons to be large enough, but you might be able to get away with it if you place the pot near an area where the plant can grow along the ground for awhile in your raised bed. Squash plants will send down roots at the base of each leaf node. If you encourage this behavior you could take a lot of the water requirements off of the pot (but you should still water it as needed).


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Thanks for replying Trev. The soil is above the rim of the pot- but I did this because I have mel's mix in it, and it will settle quite a bit- after a couple of good waterings. About the size of the pot - I know that it may not work, but it's the largest one that I have. I don't see any possibililty of getting the thing transplanted anytime soon in the garden, because the cantaloupes and melons are really pressed for time- to get done before the first of September. I was mainly trying to buy myself some time with the plant. Could you clarify something for me Trev? I want to make sure that i'm understanding you right about the leaf nodes. Are you saying that if I set the container next to my garden- so that the vines run across the top of the soil, small roots will come out of each leaf node, and plant itself into the soil? If this is what you are saying, then I may be able to do that - as soon as the cucumbers are done producing. Do you think an area of soil that is 2ft wide and 4ft long would be enough for this to take place? Once it has reached the 4 ft mark, I could force it up the trellis that is 6 ft tall. Thanks Trev. One of these days, I hope to repay you for all of your help.

EG


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Hey Trev, FD, - i've posted a thread on the container gardening forum, to get the most input on growing winter squash in containers- and would like your input, if you have time. The link is below. Thanks, as always

EG

Here is a link that might be useful: container thread


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

I tried to find a picture of the secondary roots for you, but I was unable to find any. At the base of each leaf on the vine you should be able to see a small white lump. Sometimes after a few days of cool rainy weather you can see the roots start to grow even if they aren't in the soil. Some people bury the whole vine, but I have never tried that. I just put a small amount of soil to just cover the vine at the base of the leaf. When I water my plants I am always sure to water along the vine as well. 2' x 4' is better than nothing, just try to root as much of the vine as you can.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Hey Trev - I transplanted the butternut squash seedlings into this red "container" that I had laying around. It's at least 12 gallons. Do you think it's big enough? It doesn't have drain holes, but I feel that if I can control the watering of it - it should be alright.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Hi EG,

Just a point that I think has confused you... Winter squash does not refer to the growing season, but rather to the fact that the fruit will keep well into the winter. The planting and growing times are the same as for summer squash.

Sorry if this is something you already knew.

Susanne


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Yeah that looks like a good container. No drainage worries me, but it's not the end of the world. You can just grow it in there for awhile and then when the rest of your garden is slowing down you can let it grow all over your raised bed.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Suzanne - where I live, there is still time for them to reach maturity. The maturity dates on the winter squash are between 85 and 100 days. I started the seeds on June 21st, and according to the information I looked up- the first frost date for my area is around Oct. 15 (of course it's usually later than this). That would give me 116 days to make some squash. It's gonna be close. Next year, i'll definitely plant a little sooner. No apology necessary.

Trev- Some of the stuff in the garden is almost to the point that it's produced all that it is gonna do for the year. I figure i've still got another couple of weeks to transplant it in there, just waiting on the cucs to finish. On a side note - the squash bug battle seems to be over, and they didn't get to do any damage to my plants. I saw the ants taking care of one yesterday, I was quite proud of them, they went solo on that one.

EG


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

It has been raining a lot here in MD so I have lots of secondary roots growing on my squash, here is a picture I took:

The white thing is the root, the vine is the nearly horizontal piece on the left and the right. The vertical piece above the root is the base of the leaf. There can be several roots at the base of the leaf this example just happened to have only one. This particular vine is on a trellis and many feet away from any soil.


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RE: I have questions about winter squash

Trev - Thanks for the photo and other valuable information. I transplanted the butternut in the garden today, so- I didn't need the red container after all. It is located so that it can run up a trellis that is 4 ft tall and 2 feet wide - and I hope to let it grow to the top, then down the other side. I also understand that it will be a daily chore to train the plant to remain in that width of 2 feet. This is a relief! I thought that all of my squash problems were taken care of. Sadly though, the squash bug battle is definitely not over...I've killed probably 12 in the last 3 days. Of course, i'm still going in there after them, and squishing them with my fingers. The smell is unbearable. I'm sure you know what i'm talking about. I read in another thread, that the smell attracts new bugs...have you ever heard of this?

EG


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update, have more questions

The spaghetti and butternut squash vines are doing nicely in the garden, against the trellises. Male blossoms have been present for about 2 weeks, and the vines are about 2 feet long. However, the leaves are yellowing a bit. Is there reason for concern? I have been watering them consistently, and use MG every 2 weeks. Do you think there is some more fertilization necessary? BTW, after sensing how Mother Nature is wanting to speed up the calendar on the fall season, this is still going to be really close.

EG


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