growing-delicata-squash

Delicata Squash-The Sweet Potato Tasting Squash

The delicata squash is a tender-skinned squash introduced by Peter Henderson and Company in 1894. After the Great Depression, there was a great decline of delicata squash in markets. Thanks to a group from Cornell University's Department of Plant Breeding, today we have a disease resistant non-hybrid open pollinated bush variety that can be grown in less garden space.

Delicata Squash Description

Delicata squash is a cylindrical fruit which has a cream-colored with green stripes outer rind and a golden yellow to orange inner flesh. Most are 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, perfectly sized for a two-person meal. This sweet-tasting squash is also known as sweet potato squash, peanut squash, or Bohemian squash.

Delicata squash is harvested and stored like other winter squash, though technically a summer squash (Cucurbita pepo). Its outer rind is not as hard as other winter squash varieties such as butternut and acorn.

Varieties of Delicata Squash

The sweet-tasting delicata squash is available in bush varieties and the heirloom vining variety. The bush variety can be grown in about 4 square feet. The vining variety produces vines requiring about 20 square feet.

Best Growing Conditions

Once you determine you have enough garden space for the delicata squash, there are other crucial aspects to consider:

  • Does the area get at least six hours of sunlight per day?
  • Is the soil fertile and well-composted?
  • Does the soil drain well?
  • Is soil 2 inches below surface at least 60°F (16°C)?
  • Is air temperature consistently at least 65°F( 18°C)?
  • Was a member of the cucurbit family grown in the same area the previous year?

Avoid growing plants of the cucurbit family (cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash) in the same location two years in a row. Pest and disease problems will be increased if this is done.

Before planting outdoors, add 2-3 inches of organic compost and mix to a depth of about 12 inches. An organic fertilizer should be added at the time of planting to give the plants a robust start.

Planting Delicata Squash

Delicata squash plants can be started in pots then transplanted or directly sowed into the outside soil. From germination to harvest should only be about 100 days. Each method has specific details that should be followed.

Transplant Seedlings

Transplants should be started indoors two to four weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds 3/4 inches deep into pots that are 5 inches deep. When the soil and air temperature are right and seedlings have only one set of true leaves, it is outdoor planting time. Plant the seedling 36 inches apart.

Direct Sowing of Seeds

When the soil and air temperature are right, it is time to direct sow delicata squash seeds. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep. Thin to the healthiest seedlings growing 36 inches apart.

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