Whether you like to grow pumpkins and squash for decoration or to eat - or both! - there is lots of satisfaction in growing these substantial plants in your own garden. They make a great continuation from your courgette plants, sometimes known as the summer squash, for their excellent flavour and versatility. One of the most well known is the butternut squash plant.
Pumpkins Growing Top Tips
- Pumpkins, squash and gourds are part of the same family
- Best grown in well-draining soil
- Require lots of water
- Will benefit from feeding every two weeks once the first fruits begin to swell
- Harvest in September/October
- Requires monitoring for slugs and rot
Where to grow pumpkin & squash plants
Well-drained soil is essential for squash plants plus a warm and sunny position. Many varieties will be happy if grown on the compost heap, the nutrients and the heat being most welcome. Again, it depends on the variety, but squash plants will grow well in containers provided they are a decent size and the plants are kept well watered.
How to grow pumpkin & squash plants
Squash plants are ramblers and will rapidly fill a space, so squash should be planted about 1 metre apart. The foliage will certainly soon swallow the gap and will prevent any weeds from growing.
If space is tight then growing squash vertically is an option as many squash varieties will be just as happy climbing netting, canes or any vertical structure.
If growing squash on the ground, try to keep the fruits off the soil as this will prevent slug damage. One way of doing this is to slip a tile beneath the squash.
When watering, ensure that you water around the plants and not over them, as this can lead to rot. Squash plants need watering regularly. The water should reach right down to the roots to ensure that the plant takes in enough moisture and nutrients.
When to harvest pumpkins
The squash will ripen and develop their full colour and hard protective skin in the sun, so leave them for as long as you can. They will be ready sometime during September/October and need to be brought inside before the first frosts.
How to eat squash
Most squash will store for several months with no loss of flavour or nutrients. Removing the skin can be a tricky business, it’s easier to halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and then roast.
The flesh will then be easy to scoop out. A word of warning – never roast a whole squash as there’s every possibility that it will explode!
Squash plant nutritional information
Though many think of squash as vegetables, they’re actually a fruit. Squash are brimming with vitamin A, and contain plenty of vitamin C and E. Their seeds also make a nutritious snack when roasted.
You may also be interested in squash seeds and other popular vegetable plants.