Growing winter squash requires some patience, but this orange and golden warm-season garden vegetable is well worth the wait—and most varieties have a long shelf life. From butternut squash to acorn squash, learn how to plant, grow, harvest, and cure winter squash in your home garden!
About Winter Squash
Because winter squash requires a long growing season (generally from 75 to 100 frost-free days), the seeds are generally planted by late May in northern locations to early July in extremely southern states. See your local frost dates and length of growing season.
Winter squash is harvested in autumn, just before or after their fruits reach full maturity. At this time, the skin is inedible. Squash have a relatively long shelf life (some varieties will keep through winter, hence the name “winter squash”). Varieties include acorn, butternut, Hubbard, pumpkin, and spaghetti.
Despite the great diversity of squash, most commonly grown cultivated varieties belong to one of three species:
- Cucurbita pepo
- C. moschata
- C. maxima
Over several generations, these plants have been cultivated to produce fruit in all kinds of shapes, colors, and flavors.
Squash is one of the three plants grown in the traditional Native American style called the Three Sisters, along with beans and corn. Squash served as a ground cover to prevent weeds from growing. Beans provided natural fertilizer for all three plants, and corn provided a support system for the beans. Learn more about the Three Sisters.