Winter Squash is a delicious, easy to grow, underrated vegetable. The variety of Winter Squash is so versatile that you can grow it in a variety of different containers. It has two kinds of leaves – the upper leaf is called the rhizome or cormil and the lower leaf is called the petals or stalks. Each of these has a number of small pointed blooms on each stem that are full of flavor and add to the taste of any squash dish.
The Winter Squash is an annual crop due to its life cycle. It starts out as a vine or vineette undergrowth in late summer and has a hardy life cycle where it lives for one to three years. It will die to the ground when there is last frost. The seeds from the crop are used by wildlife for food, and the vines are used to cover walkways, fences and roads to deter deer and caribou activity. The best time to harvest your Winter Squash is just before the last frost and the vegetables should be ready to go by the first cold snap in February.
Winter Squash is low maintenance and is not very picky about the soil it grows in either soil that is filled in during soggy weather or fertile sand. You can grow the Winter Squash in almost any type of soil but the ideal conditions are warm sunny weather and about four inches deep. You do not want the soil to be deep enough to allow the roots to stay permanently attached to the root system. If the soil is too deep the vines may not get the support they need to grow strong. If the soil is too shallow, you can expect your winter squash plant to be damaged by wind, severe cold, or disease.
There are various other species of squash suitable for your landscape plans including the Winter White, Black, Cinnamon, Red Bells, Round Shaped, Dwarferry, Black Eyed Susan, Satellite, Mosquito, Giant Yearling, and Hard Rind Squash. Your selection of squash depends largely on the climate you live in, and also your personal taste for flavor. Some varieties of Winter Squash are more cold tolerant than others, while others are more heat tolerant. You should be able to grow squash all year round but in the colder months you should choose the ones that are best suited to your growing zone.
Some of the varieties are hardy even in cold weather, although all produce fruit on maturity. The hard rind species produce long and stringy fruits while the cinnamon and white varieties produce small and soft fruits. In warmer climates the varieties maxima, cinnamomum, and mulberry producing squashes are usually best. It is important to ensure that the squash you plant will get enough water and that it receives adequate amounts of sunlight so that the fruits do not dry out.
If you want to grow acorn squash, go with the hard rind variety because these are the most reliable performers. In the colder months only the cinnamomum varieties are likely to grow well. In warmer climates go with the varieties maxima, cinnamomum, or mulberry producing squashes. As always, do some research on the types of fruits your winter squash plant will yield as this will help you to select the best varieties for your garden.