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A picture of a Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Cucurbita moschata

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Also known as

'Dickinson' pumpkin

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Tender

H4-H1c

RHS hardiness

-10°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

40cm

Max

2.5m

20cm

Min

1m

6 days to reach maturity

Fruiting

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

Butternut squashes are ready to harvest 110 -120 days after sowing. To check for harvesting look at the skin, the skin turns hard and is difficult to pierce with your thumbnail when it is ready to be picked.

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Overview

Cucurbita moschata (Butternut Squash) are a very diverse group of gourd vegetables that originate from South America and thrive in warm and wet weather. There are many different cultivated varieties of this species that are grown for their distinct fruits. It is closely related to C. argyrosperma, which is grown for its seeds.

Common problems

Watch carefully for bugs and when the need arises, use insecticidal soap or apply insecticides in the evening when the bees have returned to the hive since bees are essential to growing butternut squash successfully. Look out for pumpkin fly.

Companion plants

Maize when companion-planted with squash or pumpkin is said to disorient certain insects pests and protect the vining crop. Pumpkins require a lot of nitrogen so planting nitrogen fixing beans alongside with help to keep this nutrient readily available.

Propagation

Seed

Directly sow seeds 2 cm deep and 60 - 90 cm apart in late spring or early summer after the last frost dates have past. Place them at a slight angle to allow water to run off. Germination within 7-10 days. Butternut squash plants are extremely tender and the seedlings will freeze with the slightest frost and seeds will only germinate in warm soil. They can be started in 5cm pots in heated propagators and grown indoors until frosts have passed. You may need to pot on before hardening them off slowly ready to be planted into their final position.

Special Features

Crop rotation

Heavy Feeder, companion plant with beans or legumes to provide food.

Attracts useful insects

Bees are needed to pollinate the flowers.

Attractive fruits

These odd shaped fruits range from orange-yellow to green-yellow with a rough or warty skin.

Uses

Edible

Flowers make a lovely beer butter - use the male ones! Fruits are often prepared like pumpkins - baked, roasted or grilled. Soups or braai side dish with feta and spinach is also popular