Growing Butternut Squash in Fall - Zone 9

mizzrizzOctober 17, 2011

Anyone had success with butternut squash in the fall/winter? I live in Oakland, CA and included some squash plants for my fall/winter garden. I used the Burpee garden planner tool when planning and it included for me was butternut. I started them indoors in August, transplanted them in Sept and so far they're doing great. I just started seeing some flower buds last week. Thing is, everyone I talked to and all the sites I've looked at says they aren't part of the winter garden even for my zone. Not sure if I'm just wasting bed space on these guys.

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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

It could be there isn't enough time left to mature winter squash if you plant at the end of summer. You have to really think about how planting is different in the fall compared to spring. In the fall the light is decreasing and time to maturity could be as much as one third longer. Also the nights are getting colder instead of warmer. Night temps are probably more important than daytime since most plants want about 20 degree change to really produce fruit yet they are damaged when too cold. Warm days and cool nights can produce heavy dew which are great conditions for disease.

That doesn't mean you "can't" grow certain vegetables but most suggestions for fall planting are geared to "need for food" or commercial farming. If you're planting to feed a family with no outside sources, you don't take chances. Since you already have them flowering I'd at least see if they set. Maybe if you have limited space and more things to plant, you could remove them but I always try to push the envelope with something each year and consider it a learning experience.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 3:35PM
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dicot

I'd keep growing them, I still have butternut vines now that survived a brutal powdery mildew attack -- one has 3 new fruit and 2 others are in flower. CA coast seems to be getting rain, heat, fog, and the hint of Autumn this Oct, I can't even predict anymore and I just grow a range of veggies & herbs and let nature school me on what can survive or ripen. You can cut butternuts at almost any stage, I believe, then ripen them at a sunny window indoors, if it seems like rot is going to penetrate the squash.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:12PM
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mizzrizz

Thanks shebear and dicot. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and if anything, it will be a good learning experience :). Too bad if they don't produce.. other than the carrots, they're really the only plants I have in the beds that aren't being desimated by either leaf miners or cabbage worms.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 12:59PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Cabbage worms.......break out the liquid Bt and get to spraying.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 1:23PM
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mizzrizz

shebear, do you think bt is better than spinosad?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 1:26PM
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dicot

I think Bt is more effective, esp. for young plants. But we're getting into monarch season, so be careful to limit the Bt to target plants only right now and avoid over-spray.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 3:07PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

For cabbage worms, I think Bt is more organic. Spinosad is rather broad spectrum for me and I try to target specific pests. After years of using organic principles in my yard, I have so many good bugs living there that I usually let them take care of the pest problems. If I do spray, I only spray the affected plants because the domino theory is really proven in the garden. Really good soil is probably my best pesticide because sickly plants call all kinds of pests. The next best pesticide is being in the garden so I can catch the first pest outbreak and nip it in the bud.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 11:32PM
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