Thursday, 24 May 2018

Planting Winter Squashes

Right! My Squash plants are fed up with being confined to their little pots, they're going in!

Over the last 10 days or so we have had a surprising (but welcome) amount of sunshine, and I have been tempted several times to plant out the squashes. It's a good job I didn't succumb to the temptation though, because the nights have been very chilly. The temperature went down to just over 3C one night last week. Luckily the forecast shows relatively mild nights (about 10C) for the next 10 days, so I think it will be OK to plant the squashes now. They have been outside for the last 4 nights without any adverse effects...

A few days ago I cleared my embryonic "Pumpkin Patch" up at the plot. I didn't have the energy or enthusiasm to dig it a thoroughly as the rest of the plot, but I did remove all the perennial weeds and raked the soil fairly smooth.

Into this area will go 2 x "Crown Prince", 2 x "Uchiki Kuri" and 2 x "Sweetmax".

Crown Prince (L), Uchiki Kuri (C), Sweetmax (R)

The soil here is very light and sandy. With the recent scarcity of rain it is very dry too - almost dusty. Although I have very little experience of growing squashes, I know that they like rich, moist soil, so a fair bit of preparatory work was necessary. I decided where I would position the plants and for each one I dug a large hole, about 30cm deep.

Into each hole I put two "tub-trugs"-worth of old compost, which filled the holes back to roughly the original ground level.

Having marked the centre of each hole with a stick, I covered the compost with the soil I had removed from the holes, building it up to make a raised mound a few centimetres tall. I will plant the squashes on the tops of the mounds. This is because I have read that squash plants really do not like to have wet stems. Their roots will hopefully be quick to search out the moisture in the compost down below.

I know it's difficult to make them out in the photo, but here are all six mounds, marked with sticks, all ready for planting.


I decided to risk planting some of the squashes, but in my usual cautious way, I planted only 3 and kept the others back, just in case the nights are still too cold for them.

Uchiki Kuri nearest, Crown Prince in the middle, and Sweetmax at the back.

Uchiki Kuri

Since I wanted to delay a few more days before planting the other 3 squashes, I potted them on into bigger pots, because I felt they might suffer if they remained any longer in the small ones. A bigger pot and some fresh compost will keep them in good condition for a while - though they are now beginning to grow very rapidly!


  1. They always look so small in a an otherwise empty bed don't they? Hard to believe how huge they will grow!

    1. I hope you're right, Kathy. The only time I tried growing squash before this (in my own rather shaded garden, admittedly), the result was very unimpressive!

  2. looks like they will grow really well..

  3. Hi Mark.Have you tried an oscillating (stirrup) hoe? It might be great for that light soil and will clean up a large area in no time.Also works well on my contained beds .
    I deliberately held off sowing squash and courgettes until a couple of weeks ago so they'll be ready to plant out in early June which is soon enough for tender stuff in N Lancs.
    I've left a couple of fairly large areas for these crops but it always looks very bare if you leave the "proper" spaces between them so I end up squeezing a few more in anyway and have to tread carefully when cropping them.
    I plant mine in a depression in the centre of the mound to give them a bit of protection from the wind.Learnt my lesson a few years ago when most were destroyed in early June gusts only an hour after planting,so it's a good bet to hold some back like you are doing.

    1. Hi David; No, I've not tried an oscillating hoe. I'm resisting the temptation to acquire more new kit just for this plot - at least until I've had it for a full year, so that I can judge what works and what doesn't. I have a Dutch hoe and a draw hoe (plus a little Onion hoe), so I'll stick with those for now.

  4. You certainly take trouble with your planting and do things correctly. We tend to just pop our squash plants in as we do any other plant but then again our soil isn't free draining and sandy. Expect some very large specimens from Crown Prince.

  5. I would love to have that much space to grow squash! I sink a plant pot into the ground near each plant for easy watering. Can't wait to see how yours grow.


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