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Squash, Waltham Butternut

  Waltham Butternut Summer Squash

Heirloom. Organic. Learning how to grow Summer Squash and other summer squashes in your garden is like buying an insurance policy for your garden. Once you have a couple of thriving squash plants, your garden will provide plenty of delicious, fresh food for your family. In fact, in terms of the amount of food produced per plant, summer squashes are impressive. There's a reason that the stereotype of vegetable gardeners who hand out squash to everyone they know exists, after all. I find this to be one of the easiest plants to grow. Summer squashes, such as zucchini, crookneck squash, butternut squash, and others, are classified as Curcurbita pepo, as opposed to winter squashes and pumpkins which generally belong to either C. maxima or C. moschata. Members of C. pepo do not store well, unlike their winter squash relatives, so they are absolutely perfect when eaten fresh and young -- baby summer squashes are absolutely delicious, and can be a rather pricey treat unless you grow your own. Butternut is one of many different kinds of winter squash, with a distinctive pale yellow and pear-shaped fruit. Inside, the firm flesh is orange and distinctly sweet. It’s never eaten raw, but the the flesh can be cooked in a variety of ways once the seeds have been scooped out. Baked or roasted is the most common. Being orange inside, its no surprise that butternut squash is very high in vitamin A. You will also get potassium, vitamin C, manganese and a large dose of fiber.

Planting Waltham Butternut Squash

While starting seeds of the Summer Squash is not necessarily difficult, the right conditions will make the process successful. Sow Summer Squash seeds directly in the ground in the spring when the threat of frost has passed or start in containers several weeks before transplanting into soil. Keep the ground moist but not wet for the first couple of weeks. Pick a sunny, well-drained spot for planting for the best performance. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position.  Summer Squash Squashes are splendid for growing up fences or a cage. They will rapidly cover fences, cages and trellises or can be made into their own garden feature with stakes and twine. They don't have to grow up. They're just as effective as trailers from hanging baskets and window boxes.  I sometimes have to give them help starting to climb.  Summer Squash plants need regular watering. Height: 3-4 feet, Small Bush   Days to harvest—70 to 90 Days

Spacing: 8-12" inches Depth: 1/2  inch Germination: 5-10 days

Starting from Seed Indoors

Generally, the time to start your seeds is about 6- 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area, planting the seedlings outdoors about 2 weeks after that date. Another way to figure is to plan on setting out sturdy seedlings in the garden when night temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range both day and night. Count back and sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before that date normally arrives. Place a few seeds (5 to 10) into each pot and push them into the soil with your finger. Cover the seeds to a depth of approximately 1/2 inches of the potting mix. Mist each  pot with water until the soil appears moist. Place the pots in an area which will provide both light (which is required for germination) and heat, preferably about 65 to 70 degrees F and at least 8 hours of light each day. Check on the seeds every day and keep the seeds damp but not drenched by misting with your plant mister. You should see sprouting in about 5 to 10 days. Once your seedlings have reached about 4 to 6 inches in height, choose an area in your garden to transfer them. You can also use containers like barrels or clay pots. Dig holes twice the width and depth of each of your pots. Fill up each hole with water then let it drain off. Place a pot in the hole center and level so that your seedling is at the same level as the surrounding soil. Push dirt in carefully all the way to fill the hole back up. Water each seedling carefully so as not to soak the leaves or stem.

Direct-seeding into the Garden

Turn over the area you've selected to a depth of approximately 1/2 inches. Rake the area until it's level and smooth. Water the area until the soil is damp but not saturated. Scatter the seeds in the area. Gently rake the area to distribute the seeds further and protect them from birds. Or, press the seeds into the soil and cover with no more than 1/4 inches of soil. You can also place 2 to 3 seeds every 3 to 4 inches in rows approximately 8-12 inches apart, and cover seeds with 1/4 inches of soil. Place planting stakes around the area so you will know where to water. Check on your seeds about once a day. Make sure to mist the soil whenever it appears dry. Germination for Summer Squash plants is approximately 5 to 10 days, depending on the warmth of the soil.   

Germination Problems

Growing plants from seeds successfully depends on a lot of factors and this makes it impossible to guarantee success on every batch of seeds planted.  Factors include, soil composition, PH, temperature, moisture levels, seed depth, soil density, seed viability, seed storage and many others.  We tested the germination of all our seeds and this seed variety is around 80%, but your results may vary based on exactly how you plant and all the environmental factors.  Good luck.