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Butternut squash


 
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Good guy
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Location: Donegal

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:45 am    Post subject: Butternut squash Reply with quote

I've never grown Butternut Squash before and would appreciate any input from anyone who has.
Mine is growing well, in the same bed as my courgettes (which I usually grow successfully). The plant is showing about six flower buds. Should I leave all these or remove some to encourage better fruits from those that are left? Do I need to pollinate by hand? They are in a raised bed in the open - I never fertilise my courgettes by hand, the insects do a fine job.
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Kim
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find butternut squash to be more tender than cougettes or other pumpkins and generally do mine in the poly tunnel following on from early potatoes, so I cannot say I have experience of growing them successfully outside but I'll throw in my tuppence worth anyway. Every garden has individual micro climates so they may crop well outside, especially in a good summer like this one.

What I do with squash and pumpkins is to allow fruit to set (by insect pollination) and once set I just leave the best looking and largest fruit per trailing shoot. Depending on how vigorous the plant is I leave just a few altogether on the plant and then the energy goes towards those. One can also pinch out all the growing tips at that stage so that the energy goes to swelling the fruit. To be honest I have never had more than 2 fully grown butternut squash from one plant but I do not feed or pamper them at all. The risk is having too many small fruits and not enough heat / time / energy to ripen them, but one also doesn't want to put all the eggs in one basket by only leaving one or two fruits.....
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tippben
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Kim. I had great success growing butternut in Sussex, UK, but have had miserable results in Ireland. I'm sure that the difference in heat and sunshine are the crucial factor. I always grew two plants, left all the flowers on, and ended up with a wheelbarrow full of 6-12" fruit. Maybe thin the fruit a bit, and see how you get on. You can hand pollinate if you want. If you want to save the seed, completely cover some flower buds with plastic bags, pricked to allow for transpiration, but not large enough holes to let insects in, then hand pollinate when the flowers open. Once fruit begins to set, just mark it with a tag, and those seeds should breed true.

I don't have space for squashes now, but I would try putting each fruit on a slate, paving slab, tile or similar, which will heat up and release heat slowly. I'd also try to cloche the fruits with clear plastic or glass. Don't forget to feed weekly with liquid seaweed/nettle brew and tomato food.

If you manage to get any to ripen, leave loads of stem on the fruit when you cut it, to prevent rotting. They will ripen off the plant, but if you cut the stem short, like you see in the shops, they will rot. Leave it to completely dry, then cut it.
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Good guy
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks very much for the info. I'll let you know hoe I get on.
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