How to Plant and Grow Butternut Squash

Butternut squash on a white background.
What You'll Need
A pot
Squash seed
Plastic wrap
Soil bed or greenhouse

Growing butternut squash in the garden is an economical decision. You can easily grow it in small areas of your backyard or garden. Planting and growing butternut squash can also help you move closer to self-sufficiency.

A Few Considerations

You can plant butternut squash from seed in the early spring. Decide how many butternut squash plants you would like to grow: a small patch of squash won’t provide for every family meal. But if you don't sell them at a farmer’s market, you probably don’t need row after row of the same vegetable.

While the butternut squash doesn’t take up much room above the ground, it does need space to spread out its roots. A basic raised bed can help with this need. If you are using this method, you should insert a weed barrier at ground level. Put slits in this barrier and place the plants directly over the slits. Planting outside also means less need for regular watering sessions. Rain will provide enough moisture for the squash, although severe rain shortages may oblige you to get out the watering can.

Step 1 - Grow the Seed in the Pot

Find a large yogurt or similar-sized container. Fill the pot with soil or use a grow pot (little pockets of peat surrounded by a degradable mesh), which you can buy from local garden centers. Put the seed into the pot and water it thoroughly. Cover the top with plastic wrap and place the pots on a sunny windowsill. Once the sprouts begin to grow, remove the food wrap and water them occasionally.

Step 2 - Take the Plants Outside

Remove the grow pot or soil and the butternut squash from the pot. Halfway fill plant pots with soil and move each seedling into its own larger pot. Water them thoroughly. Once the seedlings have begun to form strong plants, either place the plant pots in a greenhouse or transplant the butternut squash into the raised soil bed.

Step 3 - Care for the Butternut Squash

The squash can be delicate and require some looking after. Water the plants regularly and also be sure to feed the plants at least once a week. Add mulch or compost as available.

You can "thin" the butternut squash. If you find weak or straggling plants, remove them. You can either throw them away or replant them in a pot to see if they can be encouraged.

You need to protect your squash from a number of insects. Be sure not to put any squash waste on the compost. Instead destroy it by burning or by putting it in the general waste. Use inorganic insecticides and also plant nectar-producing flowers around the edge of the raised bed, as these encourage natural predators into the area.