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BUTTERNUT SQUASH
BUTTERNUT SQUASH
These are wonderful vegetables, with solid orange flesh, that can be roasted in the oven or cooked and mashed with potato.
I also discovered that they were sublime cut into chunks and barbequed on a skewer, after brushing with olive oil.
They need to be sown in heat in March or April to ensure a growing season long enough to ensure that they ripen. I sowed 8 in peat pots to provide 6 plants. The shot on the left shows the pots with cougettes, cucumbers, peppers and chillis.
GROWING
The shot on the top left was taken on the 1st July 2006 and the plants are filling the frames. Watering regularly is vital as they are thirsty plants whose big leaves lose a lot of moisture. I cheated and put some slug pellets down just in case of damage, but I think that in future I will not bother unless I see problems.
STORING
The above shot taken on October 4th 2006 shows 6 fruit in storage, hanging in the shed in netting to avoid pressure on the skins and to allow the air to circulate. The two plants produced 11 squashes each between 1 and 2 Kg in weight, and in future I will grow 6 plants as they store right through the winter.
Grow your own squashes
BIG PLANTS
Left to their own devices they will trail for several feet in all directions so I decided to contain two plants in one of my deep beds the sides of which I raise as the plants grow. I mulched the soil with a covering of rotted horse manure, fed weekly with Miracle-gro and waited.
I covered them with polythene which was lifted as shown on sunny days to allow the air to circulate.
VEGETABLE INDEX
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Butternut squash on plant September 2006 Liverpool UK
Butternut squash plants in Frame July 2006 Liverpool UK
Butternut Squash Stored Liverpool October 2006
CROPPING
The fruit must be left to ripen, and if it has not turned orange-yellow it is not ripe.
The shot above left taken on 4th September shows an immature fruit, hence the pale colour. The leaves are starting to lose the lushness and die back, this is normal, do not be tempted to pull them yet.
7th April
Planted 6 Butternut squash plants as planned into raised beds.
The wooden stonehenge arrangements are to keep the polythene of the frame high so that the rain runs off. I am also planting some more seeds tomorrow - just in case I have acted too early!
22nd April
They have been under cover for two weeks and are touching the polythene
The first of 3 modules is added to raise the sides and give more headroom
Three inches of mulch is added which will keep the weeds down and the fruits off the soil.
Finally the cover is put back on to protect from the elements.
The differences from last year is that the modules are full size rather than half size to improve the light and let the plants intermingle, they are also a month earlier. I have planted 6 plants instead of two.
Butternut Squash plants in Frame 7th May 2007 Liverpool UK
Butternut squash plant 7th May 2007 Liverpool UK
7th May
Growth is rapidly accelerating as the longer days give more light.
The minimum night-time temperature since they were planted out 1 month ago was 7.5C and the maximum 22.6C. This has meant regular attention to the frames, opening in the day and closing at night.
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Unripe squash
Butternut squash wieghing nearly 5lb
Butternut Squash ready for storage
JULY
Plenty of small squashes are growing.
I have tried eating them at this stage almost like courgettes but it pays to let them ripen thouroughly
OCTOBER
Ready for storage.
These 20 large squashes will last the winter. The total crop was 32 and the total weight was 35KG.
HUGE
This monster weighed
well over 2 Kilograms and provided several meals.
Growing butternut squash is easy - 2006-2009  see the progress below
Building squash house
Sqush house tilted for access
Squash houses
2006
Delicious, prolific and easy to grow. This was my first attempt to grow butternut squash, something that I thought would be difficult in the North of England. I decided that protection from wind and cold would be an advantage and ended up with the arrangement seen below right, building up the frame with my modules as the plants grew.
2007
My intention was to grow 6 plants and this was done sucessfully. The results were superb and the squashes lasted all through the winter.
I did not use slug pellets or Miracle-gro and thus they were truly organic with the mulch of horse manure.
Using one of the full size rectangles, I have bolted six uprights to it and it is easy to bolt on the cross members and make lids which can be lowered or raised as necessary. The whole thing is hinged to allow access and prevent it being blown away.
Three houses to contain a total of six plants again are now complete.
It will be easy to move them around the plot in order to rotate the plantings.
In the Autumn I will grow over-wintering peas in one, broad beans in another and salad in the third.
The whole unit is easily tipped up for access. This shot taken on 5th June shows how late the season is this year compared with 2007 (above). This year however is really the norm and 2007 was exceptionally mild in April and May.
2008
I decided to build modules that will let light in the sides. They can be moved around the plot and be used for other crops. Heavy duty polythene is used and it can resist all but the strongest gales as long as they are well secured and the lids closed during windy weather.
I have used a different variety of squash this year which I hope will provide more, smaller fruits.
See how I grew this
QUICK LINKS
Building raised beds
Building compost bins
This video was taken on 1st August 2009 and covers the whole of my plot. It had just been judged in the "Best plot in Liverpool" competition
15th SEPT
Butternut Squash do grow outside in the North of England

These pictures are of the same squash grown outside on a 7th plant that I could not bear to throw away, It weighed in at a massive
2.584Kg and as Tesco were selling them for 1.75 Kg on that day, it was worth 4.52. There are another 4 on the plant!
On the left the cover has been tipped back to allow access and I have pushed the leaves down, still leaving the fruit attached but exposed to the sunlight ( the cover was replaced) to help the ripening processs.
The fruit must be dry and very yellow with no hint of green before puuing into storage.
I moved them to the greenhouse to dry the skins completely before moving them into my attic.
Squash stored in my attic on 27th October and the 2 remaining ones on 27th April 2009.
The first squash was eaten on the 4th September which means that there was 8 months when they were available, a total of 49.7Kg.
For 2009 I am going to experiment with growing some outdoors up supports as they naturally climb.
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