Growing Winter Squash with Vertical Gardening

I love growing winter squash. It is one of my favorite vegetables because it helps the harvest linger.

I love to use the squash all winter. It helps me get through the snowy winters, as it reminds me of the spring right around the corner.

When I fix winter squash my children always ask. Did you grow this in the garden?

When you grow your own food, it gives you a since of satisfaction. Some our favorite winter squash are, Butternut, Sweet Meat, Kabocha and Acorn.

All of these have a nice orange color that is packed with the vitamin A and fiber.

I can now grow many varieties of winter squash on vertical supports.

Growing winter squash up on vertical supports saves room and allows me to try several types each season.

When I find a good variety, I save the seeds and plant them again and again.

Read about of the types of winter squash I have grown. Most winter squash grow on long vines along the ground spreading 8 to 10 feet or more. This growing habit is perfect for growing on vertical supports.

Winter squash takes 90 to 110 hot days to mature and likes moist rich soil. Growing winter squash on the ground, takes 6 square feet of space per plant so vertical gardening for winter squash makes since.

Preparing Your Vertical Gardening Space

Prepare your soil in the spring when the weather has warmed. Winter squash need warm soil and weather.

Cool moist soil will cause seeds to rot in the ground but soil can be prepared when soil can be worked in the spring. Chicken manure compost is great for Winter squash. Work it into the soil in the spring.

Make rows 12 to 18 inches wide and 4 feet apart running east to west. I use wire grid panels to support the growing winter squash.

The fence panels are easy to install and are strong enough to support winter squash with its large fruit. Metal T fence posts are used to support the fence panels.

Different support materials are listed in the vertical garden page.

Setup your supports after the rows are in place. Set fencing along the north edge of the row.

Attach fencing to post with jute twine.

Jute twine is bio degradable and easy to attach and remove in the fall.

Growing Winter Squash

The middle of May or first of June the weather has warmed and its time to plant your squash seeds. Make small mounds along the south side of the support fence 4 feet apart. Make a hole 4 inches around in the top of your mounds. In the hole put a few handfuls of composted chicken or cow manure.

Cover the hole with an inch of soil and place 4 squash seeds on top. Cover seeds with an additional inch of soil and water and add a cup of compost tea. Fertilize with compost tea every few weeks as the winter squash grow.

When the seedlings are about 4 inches tall pick the 2 strongest plants and remove the rest. Mulching around the plants will help control weeds and keep the soil moist.

Tie the vines of the growing winter squash to the fence supports every few days with jute twine. Tie the twine loosely so as not to damage the squash stems. The twine will keep the winter squash on the fence and support when it gets heavy with fruit.

When the growing winter squash vines reach the top of the support, train them to go down the back side of the fence panel. Keep tying the vines to the fence until it reaches the ground on the other side of the fence.

My fence panels are 4 feet tall. This gives my plants 12 feet of growing space. That’s 4 feet on each side of the fence panel and 4 feet between the rows.

Keep the winter squash vines pruned as they grow out of bounds. Remove extra fruit as the season wanes to keep the first fruits growing. Letting too many squash grow on the vines saps strength. You’ll have bigger squash if you let 2 to 3 squash grow on each vine.

Harvesting Squash

Winter squash need to grow all summer into fall. Most squash need 3 to 3 ½ months to reach maturity.

Leave the squash on the vines until frost threatens. A couple of weeks before the first frost, cut the squash from their vines leaving 1 ½ to 2 inches of stem.

Leave the squash in the garden to cure for a few weeks. If the weather threatens to freeze, bring the squash into the house for a few days. Wash and dry each squash.

After a few days in the house, store in a cool cellar or basement at 50 degrees F. Keep stems intact to protect squash from stem end rot.

Check your winter squash every few weeks for signs of mold. Wipe off any mold with a cloth dipped in vegetable oil. This helps the squash keep for up to 4 months.

Cook any squash that starts to get soft or looses their stems. Makes some squash soup, use it in muffins or pies. Winter squash is great all by it’s self or in a vegetable casserole.

Winter squash is great all winter!

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