Acorn squash is a popular type of squash that you can grow easily. Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo) was cultivated in various colors and is attractive on any dinner table.
Acorn squash is a type of winter squash, so-called because of its storage qualities. Before refrigeration, winter squashes were a popular way of preserving vegetables during the colder months.
To learn more about how to grow acorn squash, keep reading!
Tips for growing Acorn Squash
Planting acorn squash seeds can be tricky and may take time to get the hang of. Instead of trying to transplant younger seedlings, prepare your year-round garden for them using quality bio-degradable potting soil in an appropriate container size that is well suited for planting.
Acorn squash should not be planted two weeks after the last expected frost and can be planted until 12 weeks before the first anticipated fall frost. If you live in a place with milder winters, it’s possible to get two crops of acorn squash per year. The soil must be prepared to a depth that is twice as deep.
Acorn squash plants grow best in the soil at a temperature of 65 degrees F. Acorn squash can be planted as a second vegetable after some early vegetables such as peas and lettuce have finished, providing more space for planting other crops.
If you’d like to grow squash with a plant other than itself, be sure to leave room for the companion plant to have ample time and space before it becomes overtaken by the large vines of the squash.
Growing acorn squash in a container or garden?
When growing acorn squash plants, the first consideration is space. Acorn squash requires around 50 square feet per hill with two or three plants per hill.
One or two planting hills will provide plenty of space for the average family, though if desired, acorn squash plants can also be grown in trellises that are sturdy and tall.
Growing acorn squash is a fairly simple task, but it will take some time before the plant is ready for harvest. Planting seeds in hills ensures that as crops grow, they won’t quickly outgrow their space and risk damaging other nearby plants with untrimmed vines. When planting, be careful not to overcrowd them-only five or six should go.
These plants prefer a temperature range between 20 and 32 degrees Celsius. While they will grow at higher temperatures, the flowers will drop before pollination can occur. Acorn squash plants are large, so they require lots of nutrients and soil rich in all-purpose fertilizer.
Acorn squash, a smaller type of winter squash, may be grown in the garden containers providing that they are big enough. Each plant needs to have its own 5-gallon size container, and either the vines can be left to trail over the sides, or there will need to be trellis on which they can grow up.
If planting acorn squash, choose a bush variety and make sure the container you select is at least 24 inches across and 14 inches deep. The container also needs to have adequate drainage holes on the bottom of it.
To get started, plant two to three different seeds per container and thin them down as they grow. Be sure to use quality potting soil or topsoil when planting. After planting, make sure you water the seedlings thoroughly before placing your containers outdoors to be in a location where they will receive lots of sunlight every day.
How to Grown an Acorn Squash
The broad leaves of a plant will shade out many weeds, making weed maintenance easy. The squash patch must be kept well-weeded and watered when the soil starts to dry out.
Begin to protect your developing squash as soon as you see them begin to grow. If plants on the ground, place a coffee can lid or similar object under each plant and make sure it has extra protection from damp soil underneath. Squash growing vertically need not be supported unless there is no trellis system in place; if so, they will need
As the cool fall air begins to creep in, squash plants will start producing fewer flowers. To make sure you’re getting all the fruit your plant produces, remove any new flowers as they appear. This way, your plants conserve their resources on those squash that are already developing and mature enough for harvest before it starts a new crop of vegetables that eventually won’t
Acorn Squash Soil, Sunlight, and Water Requirements
The acorn squash plant isn’t particular about the quality of soil or pH. Still, it will grow best in a mildly acidic mixture with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, mixed with compost or manure, and enriched during the growing season with fertilizer (such as 10-10-10 mix).
To produce fruit during its peak, the squash plant should be in full sun and get six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. If it doesn’t rain for seven to 10 days, you’ll need to water the base of the plant with about an inch of water each week. Never water the leaves because wet leaves can cause fungus growth and others.
Pests and Disease
Pests are among the few enemies you cannot escape in your garden if you are growing food without pesticides. Luckily, natural alternatives exist for the most common pests!
In regions where squash bugs and vine borers are common, Acorn squash plants should be covered by a floating row cover. That will help prevent these pests from causing harm to young plants. Squash bug eggs that accumulate on the undersides of leaves can also be smashed by hand; still, it is recommended to destroy leaf piles when possible.
To treat vine borers, cut damaged vines, and cover the wound with soil. Keep field borders mowed and remove plant refuse in the fall; plow the land in spring to bury pupae. Insecticides may offer some control if sprayed over infested areas.
The common disease that can harm acorn squash is powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt, and phytophthora. Prevent these problems by providing excellent soil drainage, good airflow, controlling pest insects, and rotating crops. If necessary, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent for specific control options.
- Squash bugs are small insects with a black or brown shield-shaped body that sucks juices from leaves and stems. They often hide on the underside of leaves, so it is important to inspect for both their top and bottom sides when looking for them.
- Squash vine borers are large white caterpillars that feed on the stems of squash plants and kill them. They hide inside the plant’s leaves; often, a 2 to the 4-inch hole is all they leave as evidence. To get rid of these invaders, use a clean knife to cut open the stem just below where you see frass piling up.
- Cucumber beetles can be striped or spotted, and they usually attack squash. They eat the leaves of young plants, which often kills them, and they spread disease. You can trap them with sticky traps. In large infestations, you can suck them up with a wet/dry vacuum.
- Aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies make a beeline for the leaves of your plants. They suck out their juices and leave their own deposits on the leaf surface that promote mold. To stop them, treat them with insecticidal soap.
- The mosaic virus makes leaves brittle and fragile, stunts plant growth, and affects fruit production. Aphids and cucumber beetles spread it. Remove any affected leaves as well as nearby weeds that are also hosts for the mosaic virus.
- Bacterial wilt is a fast-spreading disease caused by cucumber beetle pests. A good way to keep it at bay is to wash your tools with bleach before using them and remove any pests if they are in the garden.
- Angular leaf spot leaves water-soaked spots on the leaves and fruit of the plant. It is a bacterial infection for which you cannot contract unless you contact or wet the plant. If it does occur, remove infected leaves and stems, clean up the garden, and plant this squash in a different area of your vegetable patch next year.
You will be able to harvest your first acorn squash in 80-100 days. When nighttime temperatures are below freezing and vines have begun dying off, it’s the best time to pick them.
When harvesting a vine-ripened squash, the color of the peel can provide clues about its ripeness. A deep orange color indicates that it is ready to be picked.
To harvest your acorn squash, be sure the skin on top of it is tough before cutting it from its stem. A great way to test this toughness is by poking a fingernail into the skin.
If you can slice into it with ease, the acorn squash is not close to being done. In this case, use a knife to cut the squash from both ends and remove the stem and seeds.
Most fruit is ready to harvest in about 50-55 days. Cut them from the vines and handle them with care, as hard frosts can damage them. Sun cure them for 5-7 days or cure inside by keeping squash at 80-85°F/27-29°C and good air circulation.
The underside of squash will turn yellow or orange when it’s ripe. Occasionally, you’ll see them turn vivid orange in the field before they’re harvested. If your acorn squash is orange, it means that the flesh has become overly ripe and will have a mushy texture.
You can either eat the berries immediately or roast them later, but the fruits won’t likely be fresh for long and will decline in quality quickly while storing.
Store-bought acorn squash will continue to ripen for a while after they’re harvested, but you may also notice them turning orange in storage. For optimal taste and texture, make sure to cook any stores of maturing acorn squashes when you see them.
Storing winter squash can save you money by giving fresh garden-grown flavors during the winter. Seasonal soups, healthy desserts, and warm sides are just examples of how to cook with this favorite food from the fall harvest.
If you plan to eat the winter squash in less than a week, it can be stored on your kitchen counter or table.
Harvest your acorn squash once the fruit has ripened, and store them in a cool, dry area. Acorns can be stored for several months if given the right environment- 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit with at least 10 percent relative humidity. Studies show that storing acorns for as little as one month can cause a loss of quality flavor.
To store acorn squash, avoid stacking them together and instead stay organized by laying out these vegetables in a single row or layer. Frozen acorn squash can be stored for longer periods inside the refrigerator, but it’s best to cook up this vegetable first before storing it.
Do not store squash next to ripening fruit. Ripening fruit releases ethylene gas, which can cause the squash to be yellow and eventually rot.
If you are storing winter squash, then wiping the skin of a tool with bleach will slow the development of microorganisms that may cause it to rot.
Inspect the stored winter squash every week. If a squash starts to spot, move it away from your other stored vegetables and eat it as soon as possible.
How to Prepare
Acorn squash can be cooked in a variety of ways and is healthy for you. We like it prepared, sauteed, baked, or broiled. Peel the skin with care and then cut it in half to remove the seeds before cooking.
Acorn squash is a great choice if you are looking to plant something new in your garden. This type of winter squash has many color varieties and can be eaten raw or cooked! We hope that you have found it to be a helpful guide for growing acorn squash.
If you love cooking and gardening, then this ultimate guide to growing acorn squash is just what you need. We’ve compiled everything we know about the plant so that you can grow it successfully in your garden or on your patio. From planting seeds to harvesting time, our tips will help ensure a bountiful crop of delicious squash all year round!
We want everyone in the world to enjoy eating fresh vegetables from their garden and not just at restaurants or grocery stores. Maybe someday soon, when people go out of town on vacation, they will bring back seeds instead of souvenirs! Until then, let us know if there is anything else we can do to help you grow your own food.
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