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How to grow butternut squash in a container

Updated February 21, 2017

Butternut squash, loaded with flavour and beneficial nutrients, is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. For the space-challenged, butternut squash can even be grown in a container on your patio with a bit of advance planning. Butternut squash can be planted when the weather warms in spring, at least two weeks after the last frost of the season. Plant squash seeds directly in the container, as squash seedlings often won't tolerate transplantation.

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  1. Obtain a large, sturdy container for planting butternut squash. The container should be at least 36 inches across and 18 inches deep. Be sure the container has at least one drainage hole in the bottom.

  2. Fill the container 3/4 full with a mixture of one part commercial potting soil and one part compost or sphagnum moss. Mix in a granular slow-release fertiliser according to the directions on the fertiliser container.

  3. Select a compact variety of butternut squash seeds. Look for seed packets marked "space saver," "bush," or "compact."

  4. Use your finger to poke two or three holes near the centre of the container, and then plant a butternut squash seed in each hole. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep in the soil.

  5. Water the seeds lightly immediately after planting, and then keep the soil moist. Check the soil daily, as containerised plants dry out quickly during warm weather. Place the container where the squash plants will be exposed to sunlight at least six hours per day.

  6. Thin the squash plants when they reach 2 to 3 inches tall. Leave the largest plant and pinch the remaining plants at soil level.

  7. Harvest the butternut squash as each squash becomes ripe, so that the plant will continue to produce.

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Things You'll Need

  • Large, sturdy container with drainage holes
  • Commercial potting soil
  • Compost or sphagnum moss
  • Slow-release, granular fertiliser
  • Butternut squash, compact variety

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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