How to Grow Winter Squash

Winter squash image by freshelectrons/


You are probably familiar with zucchini and yellow crook neck, the two most well-known varieties of squash commonly found in the grocery store. However, you might find winter squash to be surprisingly delicious, if you've never had it before. Some different types of winter squash are acorn, spaghetti and butternut. Winter squash is a vine vegetable and will take plenty of space to grow.

Step 1

Prepare your soil. Winter squash, as most vegetable plants do, prefer a well draining soil. This means it does not like a clay-based soil that keeps water sitting at the plant roots. If you have a clay soil, work compost into it. You know your soil is ready when you open your hand, after squeezing a clump of dirt, and it breaks apart easily.

Step 2

Create hills with moats around them, for watering. The hills should be about 3 feet across and 1 foot high. More important than the size of the hill is the space around each hill, which should be between 50 to 100 square feet. This leaves plenty of room for the squash vines to grow outward.

Step 3

Plant your seeds, when all threat of frost has passed in your location. Plant three to five seeds per hill, approximately ¾ inch below the top of the soil. However, always read and follow seed package directions, as different plants may have other requirements. Cover the seed with soil.

Step 4

Thin seedlings when they are 3 to 4 inches tall, keeping the best two plants per hill.

Step 5

Keep the entire hill moist, but not sopping wet, until you thin them. At that time you may begin using the mote to add water to the plant's roots. By doing this, the roots will grow down into the ground (making them strong), rather than shallowly at the surface of the soil.

Step 6

Harvest your winter squash when it is fully matured, unlike summer squash, which is picked at an immature stage. The squash should have a hard rind and deep coloring before picking it. This will be during September or October in most parts of the country. The most important timing factor is to harvest before the first frost in your area; frost will harm the vegetable.

Step 7

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash, leaving 2 inches of the stem on the vine. Store the vegetable in a cool, dry location that will not reach freezing temperatures. They should be laid out in a single layer, whenever possible.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use chemical pesticides on your winter squash plants. Winter squash requires bee pollination. These type of chemicals will kill bees. Use an organic pesticide if you acquire pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost (optional)
  • Winter squash seeds
  • Hoe
  • Water


  • University of Illinois Extension
  • Gardening Know How
  • Clean Air Gardening
Keywords: grow winter squash, harvest winter squash, plant winter squash

About this Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.

Photo by: freshelectrons/