Is this a butternut squash plant?!? (And how to care for it...)

Hi all

We bought this plant early in the year from a roadside stall and it was labelled as a butternut squash.  Now that it is formed, it doesn't look like a traditional butternut squash.  Maybe it's a different type, or maybe it's something else entirely!  

Aside from identification, it would be handy to know whether it looks ripe and ready to harvest, and if not how I will know when it is?

And one last thing...  I have not pruned the plant at all.  I've just let it do it's own thing and run amok.  Is that ok or should I have (and should I now) cut some leaves back as you do with pumpkins?  

Many thanks

Max

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Last edited: 12 September 2016 09:22:41

Posts

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 13,733

    Although the plant looks like a butternut squash, the fruit isn't. It looks more like some sort of pumpkin.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Certainly a squash but not a butternut. I can't see the point in cutting leaves back - you want the maximum leaf area photosynthesising to feed the fruits. Be careful that fruit doesn't crush the main stem. Essentially I'd leave the fruits to grow and ripen as long as possible before the plant gets frosted, then cut them keeping as much of the fruit stalk as possible and put in a warm/sunny place for 2 or 3 weeks or so to cure and harden the skin.

    It might be worth giving the roots some high potash liquid feed. I've been using diluted tomato fertiliser on mine, although someone else might have a better recommendation.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,600

    It looks more like a boston squash.  They get bigger than a butternut, and make good soup if you don't want to bother with curing the skin for storage.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • Hi all

    Going through some posts and updating them with where things are at now and where they need to go next!  Only one squash made it on the plant.  Better than nothing!  Here are a couple of pics:  

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    I'm going away for a week of Friday.  Should I take it off in case there is a cold snap?  I think it looks ready but can't be sure.

    Many thanks

    Max

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 13,733

    I think it looks ready. You can cut it off and store it in a cool dry place.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Hello,

    just a tip for next season - try to hand pollinate - you'll get more fruits. 

    Step by step:

    Time pollination for the day that a female flower opens it's bud. With a little experience, you can usually tell the night before it is ready to open.

    Pollinate the plants in the early morning. The female flowers will close up later in the day.

    Select a male flower. Pull off the petals to expose the stamen which contains the pollen.To make sure the pollen is mature. Touch the stamen with your finger and see if tiny yellow specks(the pollen) come off on your hand.

    Using the stamen itself (some growers opt to transfer it to a soft-haired brush). Gently rub the pollen onto the inside stigma of the female flower. Make sure to come in contact with all segments of the stigma. I leave the stamen inside the female flower.

    Hand pollination is now complete! 

    You should plan on pollinating several fruit on each vine. Later on, you can  select which ones to keep. The best fruit are those with five or six sections to the stigma in the female flower.

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