How big should butternut squash be by 14th September?


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Last year I grew butternut squash for the first time. Early September it looked like they weren't going to produce fruit so I put them in the compost bin. But I noticed that they did have quite a few inch long, green fruits.

This year they started getting fruit in early September and now the biggest fruits are perhaps 6 inches long.

I'm in Scotland. Already we're starting too get the odd 4 degrees C night. Is there a chance they'll ripen?
 
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Very doubtful. When did you plant them? Winter squash such as Butternut should be planted at the same time, in early spring, as summer squash. Winter squash takes a long time to ripen, usually about 110 days from planting. They are extremely sensitive to a frost or light freeze. To tell if one is ripe, try to puncture the skin with your fingernail. If you can it is not ripe. The skin should be a uniform tan color and if there are ANY green spots on the skin it is not ripe and will not store nor will it cook well. Whenever I grew them they would reach about 10-12 inches long but you can't go by the fruits size as far as how long for them to ripen
 
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They were sown at the same time as the summer squash - late April. Kept indoors until June, then covered with fleece at start of June until it really warmed up.

Good soil with plenty of manure and compost, well watered, fed. Warm, sheltered spot. But like last year it's September before I get the first tiny fruits.

Is it perhaps not warm enough in Scotland? Although I know winter squashes are grown on Scottish farms, so....
 
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Maybe particular cultivars, the normal ones barely make it for me here in the south.
I've ordered some winter squash seeds from 'RealSeedCompany' - they select varieties that do well in the UK. Although they are in South Wales which is a very different climate from us. I hope I find a way to get some Winter squash!!
 
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They were sown at the same time as the summer squash - late April. Kept indoors until June, then covered with fleece at start of June until it really warmed up.

Good soil with plenty of manure and compost, well watered, fed. Warm, sheltered spot. But like last year it's September before I get the first tiny fruits.

Is it perhaps not warm enough in Scotland? Although I know winter squashes are grown on Scottish farms, so....
I wonder about pollination. Do you grow summer squash successfully? Soil temps are also very important for growth. About 24C and higher is preferred but if you can grow summer squash winter squash shouldn't be a problem.
 
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I wonder about pollination. Do you grow summer squash successfully? Soil temps are also very important for growth. About 24C and higher is preferred but if you can grow summer squash winter squash shouldn't be a problem.
Summer squash do really well. This year I've grown Black Beauty courgette and trumboncino climbing summer squash (sp?). I've also got outdoor cucumbers doing just fine. The winter squash grew in size, but no flowers until September.

The trumboncino squash and the winter squash are side by side with identical conditions.
I used cheap deree seeds (50p a packet). I've bought some quality heirloom squash seeds for next year to see if that makes a difference.
 
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Summer squash do really well. This year I've grown Black Beauty courgette and trumboncino climbing summer squash (sp?). I've also got outdoor cucumbers doing just fine. The winter squash grew in size, but no flowers until September.

The trumboncino squash and the winter squash are side by side with identical conditions.
I used cheap deree seeds (50p a packet). I've bought some quality heirloom squash seeds for next year to see if that makes a difference.
That is really strange as winter squash and summer squash bloom about the same time and the only difference are the days to maturity of the fruit. I think I would use different seeds.
 
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That is really strange as winter squash and summer squash bloom about the same time and the only difference are the days to maturity of the fruit. I think I would use different seeds.
I'm glad I asked as deep down I was thinking it was just too cold here. I was on the verge of giving up with them.
I've purchased a variety of different winter squashes for next year - all claimed to be suited to UK climate. So we'll see what happens.
 
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I grew butternut in SW Scotland last year.
You have to sow them in 3 " pots early April in the warm. Keep them warm until mid-June, which means transplanting them into 8" pots in May.
Obviously you have to transplant them again, this time into the ground, whhich, if you're not strong can be challenging.
I dig a hole a foot each way, fill it with well composted cattle muck, draw the soil back on top, so it's a mound; dig a hole in the mound the same dia as the pot, but a couple of inches shallower.
After banging the pot a few times with your hand to loosen it, kneel near the hole, put the stem between the two middle fingers of your WEAKER hand & turn the pot upside down. When you lift the pot away, just throw it out of the way as quickly as you can, then use both hands to quickly guide it into the hole.
I always make sure to try & have a couple of extra plants, as I'm quite clumsy.
I got two per plant (4).
Or you could, instead of putting them in the ground, put them in 24" pots, which will mean a lot more work in terms of watering & feeding, but at least you can bring them into the greenhouse or polytunnel if we get a poor summer.
I'm thinking that the squash bred for patio may be the way forward; smaller fruit, but there is only the wife & I.
Chuck: That difference in maturity times is a killer, as it makes winter squash, even small ones, marginal.
 

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Susan,

I can't answer the direct timing question because of considerable climate differences...but can relate some experience with butternut squash in a container which might provide you needed flexibility.

I started one butternut squash plant in mid-March in a 19-inch height by 21-inch diameter Hügelkultur container and one plant in garden soil. The container plant did very well and produced about 1500 grams of produce before our Texas heat overcame it in mid-May....so it had only two months of production.

Without question, that plant in more moderate temperatures such as we have in the fall here and with more careful attention to watering (worst drought in over a decade here) would have produced considerably more, likely at least twice as much IMO.

The huge advantage of a Hügelkultur container is in ease of mobility.

The HK container and some of the produce is shown below.

hk24.JPG




butternut squash.JPG
 
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I just pulled all of my about last week (planted in the spring) and mine were mostly around 6.5" long and yellow. They do take a long time to ripen.
 
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Thanks all of you. I'm thinking I might put them in a big container next year that can be wheeled in and out of the polytunnel.

For future reference, when should you expect to see the first tiny, green fruits in colder parts of the UK? As I've explained, both years I've tried growing them it's early September which it seems is too late even in a warm autumn?
 
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Susan,

I can't answer the direct timing question because of considerable climate differences...but can relate some experience with butternut squash in a container which might provide you needed flexibility.

I started one butternut squash plant in mid-March in a 19-inch height by 21-inch diameter Hügelkultur container and one plant in garden soil. The container plant did very well and produced about 1500 grams of produce before our Texas heat overcame it in mid-May....so it had only two months of production.

Without question, that plant in more moderate temperatures such as we have in the fall here and with more careful attention to watering (worst drought in over a decade here) would have produced considerably more, likely at least twice as much IMO.

The huge advantage of a Hügelkultur container is in ease of mobility.

The HK container and some of the produce is shown below.

View attachment 92824



View attachment 92825
I'm pretty new to gardening so keep getting real surprises in relation to climate differences. I used to think that if people could grow things in England I should be able to do likewise with a bit of fleece or a cloche.

An example from this year is Lab Lab beans (aka Purple Hyacinth Bean). It's advertised as being suited in UK climate and people that grow it in the US say it's prolific.

I had no difficulty in germinating them, and they grew nicely indoors. I put them out into a sunny, sheltered spot in early June and they are still there. Haven't grown more than a couple of inches!! Even when we had a spell of three weeks or so of warm days and nights - nothing!

Courgettes are prolific no matter where I put them in the garden. Outdoor cucumbers grow, but when I put them indoors they romp away.
Both years I've grown butternut squash I put them out in early june. Both times they've sat for weeks doing nothing. It's late Summer before they really start to grow and Autum before they flower.
I'm thinking containers will be the answer (and will consider your approach, although the downside in my climate might be slugs). My observation is that if warmth loving plants get cold early in the season they 'sulk' for weeks - even when the good weather comes. So growing them in the polytunnel unti they flower might work.
 
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Your area has a shorter gardening season than me but your days get longer so it kinda works itself out. People in Alaska grow vegetables don't they. Not sure what they can grow but I know they can grow huge cabbage because of that fact.
 
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I am a little bit tempted after the summer we had this year to try maize and squash, but I am a bit cautious. There is a sort of gardener who is always trying to grow the marginal things. In England that means they have an avacado on the patio they grew from seed, a grape vine that produces nasty little sour spheres they make 'wine' from, yet there are hundreds of plants that grow really reliably in our climate. I might well end up thinking 'I could have grown some extra onions', or leeks, or shallots, or a nice row of swede, beans, cabbage, parsnip something I am pretty sure is going to work.
 
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I am a little bit tempted after the summer we had this year to try maize and squash, but I am a bit cautious. There is a sort of gardener who is always trying to grow the marginal things. In England that means they have an avacado on the patio they grew from seed, a grape vine that produces nasty little sour spheres they make 'wine' from, yet there are hundreds of plants that grow really reliably in our climate. I might well end up thinking 'I could have grown some extra onions', or leeks, or shallots, or a nice row of swede, beans, cabbage, parsnip something I am pretty sure is going to work.
I know what you mean. But I really do like winter squash!
I certainly love potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers and summer squash (all of which are effortless).
I've ordered seeds from RealSeeds (so quality seeds grown in the UK) for a variety of squashes ands peppers that are suited to our climate. I've got better quality butternut squash and some smaller acorn squash. I'm hoping to find one that does well here.
I've just checked my butternut squash and there are a few about 6 inches long with a little bit of colour starting. I've cut off everything that's too small to ripen and I plan on fleecing in the evenings now it's getting cold (4 degrees forecast tonight)
 
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I am a little bit tempted after the summer we had this year to try maize and squash, but I am a bit cautious. There is a sort of gardener who is always trying to grow the marginal things. In England that means they have an avacado on the patio they grew from seed, a grape vine that produces nasty little sour spheres they make 'wine' from, yet there are hundreds of plants that grow really reliably in our climate. I might well end up thinking 'I could have grown some extra onions', or leeks, or shallots, or a nice row of swede, beans, cabbage, parsnip something I am pretty sure is going to work.
I've just taken 18 sweetcorn cobs in SW Scotland. (One per plant, variety "Swift" which is dwarf, to beat the winds)
 
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I know what you mean. But I really do like winter squash!
I certainly love potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers and summer squash (all of which are effortless).
I've ordered seeds from RealSeeds (so quality seeds grown in the UK) for a variety of squashes ands peppers that are suited to our climate. I've got better quality butternut squash and some smaller acorn squash. I'm hoping to find one that does well here.
I've just checked my butternut squash and there are a few about 6 inches long with a little bit of colour starting. I've cut off everything that's too small to ripen and I plan on fleecing in the evenings now it's getting cold (4 degrees forecast tonight)
I like Real Seeds, they are a class act, but the fact is, if you're going to be successful at winter squash in Scotland, it has to be hybrids for their extra vigour.
I use OP seeds when I can, but there are times when I can't.
 
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I've just taken 18 sweetcorn cobs in SW Scotland. (One per plant, variety "Swift" which is dwarf, to beat the winds)
I have Golden Bantam sweetcorn that looks to be doing OK. It's not ready yet, but I could have started it a bit earlier.

I'll let you know how I go with my squash from real seeds. In light of what you've said I might try some hybrid seeds as a backup. Is there any winter squash you'd recommend?

A couple of my butternut squash are about 6 inches long and starting to change colour a little. Is there any point putting fleece over them to give them a chance of ripening? Presumably I should cut away any that stand no chance of ripening?
 
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