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How to Grow Delicata Squash in the Home Garden

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Do you love delicata squash? Or are just looking for a new variety of squash to grow in your garden this year?

If so, you’ll be happy to know that delicata squash is easy to grow in your home garden. I’ll share with you the best way to grow delicata squash and provide tips for ensuring a bountiful and delicious harvest. So, if you’re looking for a new vegetable to add to your garden, consider growing delicata squash!

Delicata squash growing in the garden

What is Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is a variety of winter squash that is characterized by its delicate, thin skin. It’s also often referred to as “sweet potato squash” because of its sweet, nutty flavor. (Buy delicata squash seeds here!)

Delicata squash is a small squash, typically only growing to about 12 inches in length, which isn’t too small if you’re comparing it to summer squash. But this fun striped squash variety is easy to grow in the home garden whether you’re using raised beds, containers, or a row garden.

Delicata squash is often eaten with the skin still on because it’s so delicate. This winter squash is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber, making it a healthy addition to your dinner table.

When to Plant Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is a “winter squash”, which means it takes longer to mature than summer varieties. It doesn’t mean that you grow it in the dead of winter. I had to learn this the hard way years ago.

You should plant delicata squash in late spring/early summer, after the last frost date for your area. In my region of the country, that’s typically mid-April.

Delicata squash takes about 90 days to mature, so you’ll want to make sure you give it enough time to grow before the first frost date.

How to Plant Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is best planted using seedlings rather than seeds because they have a longer growing season and giving them a head start can increase the time they have to grow outdoors. You can purchase seedlings from your local nursery or garden center.

When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole that’s about twice the size of the pot and mix in some compost. Gently loosen the roots before placing the plant in the hole and be sure to look for any root rot that may be present.

When planting, make sure to space the seedlings about 18-24 inches apart. Delicata squash plants will spread out as they grow, so you’ll want to give them enough room to do so. Water well after planting.

How to care for delicata squash

Delicata squash is a relatively low-maintenance crop, but there are a few things you can do in order to ensure a bountiful harvest.

First, you’ll need to water your plants regularly. They should be watered about once a week, or more if the weather is particularly hot and dry. The squash are a good size, and that takes more water than some other vegetables.

Be sure to also fertilize your plants every few weeks. I like to use an organic fertilizer that I can either mix into the soil or water directly onto the base of the plant. Espoma is my go-to, but use whatever you like for your garden.

If you haven’t had your soil tested, be sure to do that first, so you’ll know what type of fertilizer your soil really needs. See my full video and post about how to test your garden soil.

Delicata pests and diseases

Finally, you’ll need to watch for pests and diseases. The most common pests are squash bugs, which can be controlled with a variety of methods including hand-picking, row covers, and insecticidal soap. For natural pest control, check out my resources below:

As for diseases, powdery mildew is the most common one to watch out for. You can prevent powdery mildew by making sure your plants have good air circulation and aren’t too close together. You can also water early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.

See my full post about powdery mildew and how to prevent it. It’s very common on vining crops such as these squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins.

When to harvest delicata squash

Delicata squash is ready to harvest when the skin is deep yellow with green stripes and when a fork inserted into the flesh meets little resistance. Resist the urge to harvest too soon when the squash still has a pale green or light yellow tint to it.

Once harvested, delicata squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two months. If you have a basement or other cool, dark place, this is the perfect spot to store your extra squash.

A harvest of cucumbers, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini

Otherwise, roast those squash as they come off and enjoy the fruits of your gardening labors!

Do you have any tips for growing delicata squash? Comment below and share with other gardeners. We’re all a constantly learning community! Have a great week and happy gardening!

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