How to Care for Winter Squash

Winter squash comes in many different varieties. image by biskuit/


Winter squash is a vegetable grown throughout the United States in warm temperatures. Unlike summer squash, it is harvested and eaten while mature. The skin of winter squash will become a hard rind before it is ready to harvest, in approximately 100 to 120 days after planting. The name "winter" squash refers to the fruit's ability to be stored and used throughout the winter months.

Step 1

Plant winter squash after all danger of frost has passed in an area which receives full sun, is protected from damaging winds, and has well-drained soil. Sow four to five seeds together about 1 inch deep to form a "hill." Space hills about 5 feet apart. Allow 7 to 12 feet on either side of rows for vines to spread. Thin to the two best plants per hill once growth begins.

Step 2

Water winter squash regularly, at least once per week, for the best results. Use a drip irrigation device according to the manufacturer's directions if the early summer is extremely dry. Otherwise, water by hand as necessary.

Step 3

Feed winter squash plants 1 week after blossoming using a high-potassium liquid organic fertilizer. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage and application. Feed again after an additional 3 weeks have passed. Winter squash is a heavy feeder and adequate fertilization will increase the yield.

Step 4

Apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around the base of winter squash plants to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and keep the fruit off of the soil. Hay, straw, grass clippings or leaves may be used to mulch winter squash.

Step 5

Harvest winter squash fruit in September, or October at the latest, before the first frost. Harvest fruit which is solid in color and has a hard rind. Cut the fruit from the stem, leaving at least 2 inches of stem attached to the squash. Store in a warm, dry location for up to 6 months.

Things You'll Need

  • Drip irrigation device
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Watch Your Garden Grow: Winter Squash
  • Growing Winter Squash in the Home Garden
  • Book: Organic gardening for the 21st century; John Fedor; 2001
Keywords: winter squash, winter squash plants, winter squash fruit

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including

Photo by: biskuit/