When you start growing your squash this year, you may be wondering how you can choose the squash seeds that work best for you. There are three classes of squash including the basebroom, red, and white squash. Each type has its own characteristics that make it unique. There are certain squash varieties that work great for beginners while others are better for children and adults.
Winter Squash, or pumpkin, is perhaps the most popular variety to grow at home because it is a very forgiving and rewarding plant. It produces small fruit that are perfect for eating when the summer squash are not available. Because it blooms in the fall, pumpkin works well for early spring gardeners and harvests. The best way to harvest this vegetable is by picking the fruit from the vine in late summer.
Winter Squash, or buttercup, is one of the least difficult vegetables to grow. It is full of flavor and the large tubular leaves make it easy to pick and eat. Buttercups are typically harvested in late summer and can last up to 110 days. This squash is very forgiving, which is important if you want to grow it indoors. It relies on insects for much of its food supply, so it's easy to replace pests when they die off. This also means it's quite easy for two types of winter squash to crossover and form seeds that won't grow true to the parent plant.
Although this vegetable is not as prolific as the squash it does offer the same benefits and can be used year-round for a healthy and delicious diet. Because it is a living organism it is very hardy and will grow just about anywhere. Since the leaves are small they are often used in salads. They can go with traditional vegetable dishes or become an ingredient in gourmet recipes. They can be combined with other fruits to create a delicious fruit salad recipe.
The first step to germinate your own winter squash seeds is to ensure the soil temperature is warm. Seeds should be sown in a shallow hole with a light soil surface and no clay or sand. Once the soil temperature has been achieved keep the plants indoors for three weeks. The idea is to give the seedlings a chance to develop a firm root system before moving them outdoors. If you move them outdoors before they have had time to develop a strong root system you risk losing them or scarring the seedling.
Before moving your seeds outside you should check to see if they have any female flowers or seeds. A healthy female flower will produce a large number of eggs, which can sometimes cause problems for the seedlings. Some seeds will produce more females than males so check carefully before you move the female flowers inside. There are also hybrid varieties that have high male fertility but low female fertility so you may want to consider planting these varieties instead.
After the three weeks of warmth indoors the best time to plant your seeds is during early October. The timing for growing winter squash depends on the type of squash variety you are growing as well as what kind of soil you have. Different types of squash need to be planted at different times so check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to make sure you are planting at the right time. This will allow you to have a clear idea of the amount of sunlight and warmth, they will need before you harvest.
When you harvest your squash plants be careful not to damage the seedlings. squash plants can easily bruise during cold weather so take care when picking off the small pieces. If the weather turns extreme and temperatures drop significantly, you may need to protect your winter squash seeds or seedlings from harsh weather conditions. If the weather is mild enough you may be able to get several crops from one plant so save the seedlings for next year's garden.