Acorn squash is planted in the summer and comes to harvest in the winter. It has large green leaves and yellow bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are sometimes used for an edible salad ingredient. It is also called butternut squash and is native to North America. Squash of all kinds are very popular in the home garden because they're easy to grow. Acorn squash are prolific and store well in winter. There are a few considerations to think about before you plant squash.
Acorn squash thrive in full sun. They are sensitive to frost. Plant squash two weeks after the last frost date. Squash need plenty of room to grow. Mature squash vines reach 3 to 15 feet. Squash vines spread low on the ground or may be trained onto a trellis. Choose bush varieties if you do not have adequate growing space.
Squash prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Prepare the soil one week before planting seeds. Squash is often planted on small mounds. Add composted soil to 12 inches in depth. Mix this into the garden soil thoroughly. Water deeply and let soil sit for one week. Compost is rich in beneficial organisms that will increase soil fertility immediately. Organic compost is easily made in your garden and is available at garden centers.
Acorn squash is a tender annual that grows for one season. Choose acorn squash seeds from your local garden center or by mail-order. There are heritage variety seeds available that are open-pollinated and create a very durable squash. Older heirloom varieties include 'Hubbard '. Plant seeds according to package directions, ½ to 1 inch under the ground. Seedlings appear within five to 10 days. Thin to 18 inches apart when plants are 2 to 3 inches tall.
Irrigate squash plants deeply, thoroughly and regularly. Mulch squash plants with straw, newspaper or black plastic to keep moisture in the ground and conserve water. A mulch cover also suppresses weeds. Watch for wilting leaves during hot weather. Some gardeners use a soaker hose to provide constant irrigation to plants.
Pests and Disease
Acorn squash are a disease-resistant plant that require minimal pest control. Squash bugs are easy to see and can be hand-picked before they do damage. Squash are subject to mildew if the leaves remain wet at night. Water early in the day so upper parts of the plant can dry as quickly as possible. If plant becomes infected, remove the leaves and vines that are damaged.