Growing and Storing Butternut Squash

by Marina Ingrit

Butternut Squash is one of our family’s favorite things we grow in the garden. While most of the time we just cook it and eat it with butter and a little bit of brown sugar, there are a lot of other yummy recipes that we use it for too. It is easy to grow and will produce enough to last you through the winter and spring. In fact, if you store it properly, butternut squash can last 6+ months on your shelves! I’m going to share my tips on growing and storing butternut squash!

Growing And Storing Butternut Squash

 

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Growing Butternut Squash

 

Butternut squash is a winter squash. It is the last thing we harvest from the garden. If we don’t get a hard frost early in the year, I don’t pick them until around November. Unlike summer squashes that you want to pick while the skin is soft, butternut squash skin will need to harden before picking. They go from light green to a beautiful tan.

They love full sun and rich soil. They, like pumpkins, will vine and need more space to grow than some other vegetables, but they produce well. I average between 15-20 per plant (sometimes more). Last year I got 49 from 2 plants and this year I got 36 squashes. If you have limited space in your garden, you could always grow these on a trellis to save space.

I like to create hills, or mounds of soils, to plants the seeds in as this is suppose to help keep them warm. I plant them as soon as all danger of frost is gone. They do not like the cold when they are first starting out. If you have poor soils, you will want to add compost around the plants. They are big eaters!

When it is time to harvest, make sure to cut a least a 2″ stem. If the stem breaks off, that is okay, those will just be the first one you will need to eat as they tend to not last as long.

 

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Storing Butternut Squash

 

    • Wash them well! Get all the dirt off so they are squeaky clean and have less risk of rot.

 

    • Place them in the sun so they can harden and cure. I usually place them on a clean tarp on my driveway on sunny, warm days. If outside is not an option due to weather, a sunny counter by a window can work too. The harder the skin, the better. I try to get at least a week of curing in before storing them.

 

    • Store them in a dry, cool place. For me, that is my basement storage room. I store them on wire shelves with all my canned goods. I really would like to build a wood rack with drawers one day though! I try not to stack them but if I have a lot, sometimes I have to double up.

 

    • Check on them periodically. If one starts to get dark spots I eat that one right away. If one starts to get soft spots, I cut the soft parts off and feed to the the bunnies and chickens. That rarely happens though. Most of the time they do just fine and look like we just picked them! I have noticed that if kept longer than 5-6 months they are still edible, but they must lose their sugar content because they are no longer sweet. We actually kept one for a year once just to test things out. It looked just fine, was nice and firm, but had no flavor.

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