One problem with growing butternut squash, or any squash, in a small garden is that the squash plants can take up to 3 metre/10 feet of space for each runner it puts out. One way to solve this problem is to grow the butternut vertically on a fence. By doing this, the vines, once trained, climb the fence instead of taking over the garden floor. An additional benefit to this method is the fruit stays cleaner because it does not touch the soil.
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Things you need
- Plant tape
Plant the butternut seed or transplants 20 to 30 cm or 8 to 12 inches away from an existing fence in your garden area.
Allow the plants to grow until the runners are long enough to reach the existing fence.
Train the vines to the fence by gently tying the vines to the fence using plant tape. Take care not to bind the vines too tightly.
Continue to tie the vine to the fence as it grows. Tying every 15 to 20cm or 6 to 8 inches is ideal.
Tie the vines in either direction when they reach the top of the fence.
Tips and warnings
- You can use strips of old pantyhose to tie the vines to the fence if you do not have plant tape.
- Keep in mind that each butternut squash vine can produce up to 6 to 8 squash, each weighing at least a pound/half kilo. If the fence you have chosen is less than sturdy and becomes stressed from the weight, use a heavy stick or scrap lumber to prop the fence up until the fruit is ready to harvest. Another alternative is to sacrifice a portion of the butternuts early in the year, choosing the best-looking squash to keep on the vine.
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