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How to Grow Spaghetti Squash – One of my favorite winter squashes is spaghetti squash. It’s a fantastic pasta alternative if you’re trying to eat better or include more vegetables into your diet. The inside of a cooked spaghetti squash appears stringy and noodle-like when torn apart with a fork, precisely resembling its namesake pasta. The mild flavor pairs well with marinara or garlic scape pesto. Growing spaghetti squash is surprisingly simple if you have enough space in your yard. This post will teach you how to produce spaghetti squash in garden beds, both vertically and horizontally.
What exactly is spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a winter squash variety. The winter squash family is renowned for its firm rinds and extended shelf life. Other winter squash varieties include acorn, butternut, delicata, and buttercup squashes, among others. Winter squash take a long time to develop, and the fruits are picked late in the growing season. They will keep for months if kept at room temperature in a cool, dry place.
Spaghetti squash, unlike other kinds of winter squash, has flesh that isn’t creamy and smooth. As previously said, it is stringy, making it distinct among this category of vegetables. Each oval-shaped spaghetti squash has silky skin that matures to a mellow yellow when mature.
When should you sow spaghetti squash seeds?
It is critical to understand the duration of your growing season while cultivating spaghetti squash. This is because most spaghetti squash cultivars, including my favorite, “Vegetable Spaghetti,” take an average of 100 days to mature.
Start squash seeds inside under grow lights approximately 4 weeks before your last anticipated spring frost if you reside in a northern growth zone with a short growing season with fewer than 100 frost-free days. Another alternative is to cultivate a quick-maturing variety like “Small Wonder,” which yields single-serving-sized squash in only 80 days.
If you reside in an area where the growing season lasts more than 100 days, the ideal way to start spaghetti squash is from seed planted directly in the garden. Squash seedlings hate being transplanted. For individuals with a growth season of more than 100 days, starting squash seeds inside under grow lights is frequently ineffective.
Planting transplants in the garden rather than seeds delays plant development by a few weeks. As a result, if you reside in a northern area with a short growth season, you should only start squash seeds inside. Otherwise, a week or two after the risk of frost has gone, sow spaghetti squash seeds straight into garden beds. In my Pennsylvania garden, I plant squash and other warm-season vegetables such as cucumbers, beans, and zucchini between May 15th and June 10th.
How to Grow Spaghetti Squash Seeds
Seeds are planted 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. There are a number of different methods for cultivating spaghetti squash.
- Mound or hill planting: This is an excellent method for gardeners who have clay soil that drains poorly. Make a mound of dirt and compost that is 3 to 6 feet broad and 8 to 10 inches high. Plant 3 to 4 spaghetti squash on the top of the mound, spreading them apart by several inches. Mulch the mound and surrounding area with straw or untreated grass clippings to keep moisture in, weeds at bay, and squash growing off the ground. When using this method to produce spaghetti squash, the vines will wander down the edges of the mound and over the mulch.
- Ground planting: This method is best suited to gardeners who have good drainage and enough growing area. Most spaghetti squash cultivars have vines that may reach a length of 8 feet or more. Sow 2 seeds per hole in seed-planting holes spaced 3 to 4 feet apart in the earth. When the seeds sprout, snip off the weakest seedling at the base to thin the plants to one robust seedling per hole. Mulch a 6-foot-wide area with straw or untreated grass clippings around the planting holes.
- Planting in squash rounds: This is a wonderful method for gardeners who don’t want to offer their squash plants a lot of garden space. Make cylinders of chicken wire fence 3 to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Fill the cylinders with layers of fallen leaves, manure, grass clippings, compost, leftover potting soil, and any other organic materials you can find in the autumn. The wire squash rounds may be built on the grass, in the garden, on a patio, or anywhere else. Sow 3 or 4 squash seeds in each squash round when spring comes (the organic materials will have settled a bit over the winter). When growing spaghetti squash in squash rounds, the vines will climb up and down the edges of the cylinder.
Vertically growing the vines
I’m not going to lie: spaghetti squash vines take up a lot of garden space. Growing the vines vertically is another method for spaghetti squash planting that needs very little ground area. To support the vines as they develop, build a strong trellis or fence. I either use grid panels or let the vines climb the wooden fence that surrounds my food garden. Because delicate spaghetti squash tendrils can’t grasp the heavy wood slats, I have to train and tie the vines to the fence as they develop, or staple chicken wire to the fence so the tendrils have something to grip.
Fertilizing the vines of spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash plants are large, and they need enough nourishment to thrive. Each vine will yield 6 to 8 fruits if planted in healthy, rich soil. Before planting spaghetti squash, enrich the soil with plenty of compost.
Nitrogen-rich fertilizers should be avoided since they promote tall vines with little fruits. Instead, go for an organic granular fertilizer with a little greater phosphorus content (the middle number). Phosphorous encourages the growth of flowers and fruits. When the plants are 6 inches tall, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of organic granular fertilizer (I prefer this one) around them. When the vines begin to bloom, reapply 3 tablespoons around the base of each plant.
Organic liquid fertilizers are another alternative, but they must be used every 3 to 4 weeks throughout the growth season. To apply liquid fertilizers (I prefer this one), mix it in a watering can according to the package directions and saturate the soil around the plant’s base.
Planting your Squash
It is critical to keep the vines properly hydrated while growing spaghetti squash. Mulching with a 3-inch layer of straw, grass clippings, or shredded leaves helps maintain soil moisture, but you’ll need to water the vines in times of drought. I suggest watering by hand so that you can guide the water to the root zone while keeping the leaves dry. Spaghetti squash, like other squashes, is susceptible to powdery mildew and other fungal infections. The use of dry leaves is essential for minimizing fungal infections.
Apply approximately 1 gallon of water to the root zone of each seedling, 5 gallons around each young vine, and 10 gallons around each mature vine when hand watering. Allow the water to gently percolate into the soil. Don’t drop it all at once, or you’ll end up with a lot of wasted runoff. If the soil is very dry, maybe because you were on vacation and it did not rain while you were gone, apply a second, equal quantity of water approximately a half hour later to ensure that it soaks in completely.
When should you harvest spaghetti squash?
Harvesting spaghetti squash may seem difficult to those who are growing it for the first time. How do you tell whether the fruits are ripe without cutting them open? Because spaghetti squash and other kinds of winter squash will not ripen once removed from the plant, it is critical that they be allowed to completely mature on the vine.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:
- Examine your calendar to ensure that the necessary number of days have elapsed after planting. Keep in mind that for most kinds, this is about 100 days.
- Make a small indentation in the rind with your fingernail. It should be difficult to penetrate.
- If the fruits are lying on the ground, turn one over and check for a lighter yellow patch on the underside.
- It is not necessary to pick all of the squash at once. Pick them as they ripen, allowing any immature fruits to develop on the vines.
- Make sure to harvest all of the squash before the first frost of the season. Otherwise, they may be damaged, reducing their shelf life.
- To harvest spaghetti squash, remove the fruits from the plant while keeping a 1-2 inch piece of the stem intact.