Squash – Buttercup
Squash – Buttercup is a vigorous trailing plant with unusual shaped fruits with grey-green skin. It has very firm flesh with superb sweet flavour.
Soil and site:
Squash – Buttercup needs a fertile, free-draining soil that can hold plenty of moisture. A generous application of well-decomposed compost is beneficial (about 1 bucket per square meter).
They also need a sheltered place in the garden as they really despise strong winds.
Pumpkins and squashes are very tender plants.
I usually sow seeds in early May individually into 7cm pots. The pots are left ideally in a propagator in the greenhouse or on the windowsill at home (south facing). They may also be fine in a tunnel without a propagator, but plants have to be covered up with fleece during cold spells to protect them from frost damage.
After about 3 weeks – or before the plants get pot bound – I pot them on into 12cm pots. The pots should be left in the greenhouse or indoors.
Start hardening off the plants at the end of May and plant out in early June. Do not plant if the weather forecast predicts cold windy spells which are quite common during this time.
The safest way would be to plant them under cloches which are covered with bio-net.
Please do not underestimate the space a pumpkin plant requires. The ideal planting distance is one plant every two meters. It is important to stick to this spacing but you can interplant some lettuce or annual spinach into the gaps. They can be harvested before the pumpkins take over.
Pumpkins belong to the cucurbit family. This family is not prone to any soil borne pests and diseases, so there is no need to stick to a strict rotation. In fact they could be grown in the same place every year.
From each plant you will only get 6 to 10 fruits.
Squashes should ideally be harvested when the leaves have died back. However it is not always possible to wait that long especially if there is a risk of frost. I
Squashes actually store for a surprisingly long time. If they have properly ripened they will store until March in a cool, but frost free shed.
Apart from their sensitivity to cold and windy weather there are no specific pests or diseases that affect pumpkins. Slugs, however, like the newly planted pumpkins, so you need to protect them.
How much to grow:
Squash are only suitable for large gardens. Everybody underestimates the space they require. Unless you have a large garden only one to two plants are sufficient. At least you’ll have some fun at Halloween.
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