Winter Squash

When You Want To Grow Winter Squash From Seed

For some reason, I assumed that I didn’t have to plant winter squash until the fall. But alas, once I started looking for when to plant them in Virginia (I was actually planning ahead), I realized that I needed to get them in the ground late May or early June to give them enough time to mature before winter’s first frost. They have a long growing season, prefer the heat of summer, and are not resistant to cold.

I love all sorts of hard squash – butternut, acorn, delicata… so I had a hard time deciding which type to plant.

In my small space, the ideal would be 1 butternut plant, 1 acorn… etc. But, if you buy seedlings, it’s usually several to a tray. Or, if you opt to buy a seed packet, you get tons of one variety of seed (way more than I can use in my small yard).

My solution?

I decided to get a mixed pack of heirloom winter squash seeds.

I figured this would give me the best chance for a variety of winter squash, with a minimal investment up front. I haven’t grown squash from seed before, so in the event that I failed (it happens), I didn’t want to have spent a lot of money to get a bunch of different seed packets.

I ordered this seed pack online, and when it arrived, my first step was to sort the seeds.

With a mixed variety packet, I didn’t know which seeds would grow into which type of squash… which necessitated a bit of strategy.

The seed packet recommended planting two seeds per small pot.

Knowing that I would have to thin the seedlings from 2 seedlings per pot to 1 seedling, I did my best to plant pairs of seeds that looked similar. (With the hope being that I’d still have one of each type after thinning).

On June 2, I paired seeds, and planted two per section, and set them in full sun. 

On June 9, my first winter squash seedling made its appearance. 

By June 12, about half of the seeds had sprouted!

On June 18, the seedlings were ready to be transferred. They had all sprouted, and were about 4-6 inches tall.

I gently removed them from their container, and planted them in these 20 gallon raised bed planters. I took this opportunity to thin a couple of smaller seedlings that didn’t look as strong as the others. But, in the case where both seedlings in a pod looked the same, I planted them both to make sure they survived being transplanted before thinning them again.

By July 4, my winter squash were well on their way. Over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve had to make a couple more decisions in regard to thinning. (I always feel so bad about choosing between seedlings. But after waiting too long to thin my summer squash, I knew I had to make the cut sooner rather than later.)

My winter squash are starting to take off, and I can’t wait to find out what types I ended up with. I can definitely tell I have a variety… the leaves vary from plant to plant. BUT, I haven’t been able to find any source online that helps me predict what each plant will produce (So as soon as I find out, I’ll be sure to write a post doing just that.)

But, in the meantime, any predictions? I’d love to know if you can already tell what’s what!

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