Winter squash comes in a variety of flavors, shapes and sizes. All are easy to grow at home in containers. Winter squash are also easy to store and rich in vitamins A and C. Their nutritious orange flesh make them a great substitute for carrots and sweet potatoes in the winter diet. There’s really nothing not to love about winter squash, so gather up some growing containers and use these tips to grow your own crop of winter squash.
Choose your Squash
Always look for dwarf or bush varieties of your favorite winter squash and consider some of these varieties that are easy to grow in containers. Spaghetti squash produces oblong squash and stringy fibers that resemble pasta. Butternut squash is a staple at many Thanksgiving dinners. The vines are rapid producers, producing bottle-shaped squash that is versatile in the kitchen and will store up to 6 months. Buttercup squash are similar to butternuts in vine productivity and flavor, but that’s where the similarity ends – buttercups are squat and green when ripe. Acorn squash are ribbed, round, green or gold and mature quickly on the vine. A good choice for growing in containers.
Select large containers that are at least 1 foot wide and equally as deep for each winter squash plant. Ensure there are several drainage holes in container bottom and cover them with a coffee filter to prevent soil from leaching out during watering. Fill container with a potting soil mix that is 50/50 compost and potting soil.
How to Plant
Start with the seeds of your selected winter squash variety, then sow the seeds into prepared container after all danger of frost has past in the spring if container is outside. Plant any spring day if container will remain indoors. Place two seeds in the center of each container. Thin to one plant after seedlings reach 4 inches in height. Winter squash grow best in a sunny location with well-draining soil.
Harvest and Storage
Winter squash are ready to be harvested when you can’t easily poke your fingernail into their rind. Remove from vine, wipe away garden soil with a damp cloth and place winter squash in a warm location that remains a constant 70-80 degrees for 2 weeks so it will cure. After the 2 week curing time, store winter squash in a cool, dry location for 4-6 months.