How to Care for Acorn Squash

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An orange spot forms on the bottom of acorn squash once it ripens.

Acorn squash, a variety of winter squash, has a shape similar to an acorn. Acorn squash are classified as winter squash due to the thick rind that allows the squash to be stored during the winter months. The squash has a hard dark green rind and a soft orange flesh. The squash grows on a vine that spreads on the ground. The squash needs plenty of room to grow. Winter squash grows on the vine until it matures, which can take up to 120 days. Once harvested, winter squash lasts in storage for two to three months. Caring for acorn squash properly ensures that it remains healthy as it grows.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Seeds or seedlings
  • Mulch
  • Sharp knife
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    • 1

      Find a location outdoors that receives full sunlight. The soil must remain well drained and fertile. Soil with a pH level between 5.8 and 6.8 and soil high in organic matter work best for winter squash. Add up to 4 inches of compost to enrich the soil.

    • 2

      Plant acorn squash seedlings or seeds after the threat of frost passes completely. Frost can injure acorn squash seedlings. Seedlings may be purchased from a local nursery or started indoors six to eight weeks before the frost ends.

    • 3

      Plant the acorn squash seeds 1 inch deep into the ground in hills that are 12 inches long and 3 to 4 inches tall. Each hill can contain four or five seeds and the hills should be spaced five to six feet apart. Thin the seedlings to the two or three best acorn squash plants in each hill. When planting established acorn squash seedlings in hills, plant two seedlings in each hill and space the plants 6 inches apart. Space all the seedlings so that they remain 7 to 12 feet apart in rows so that the vines can spread.

    • 4

      Water the acorn squash with drip irrigation. Drip irrigation means to use a dripper, valves or pipes to slowly drip the water to the roots of the plants. This type of watering keeps the ground moist and prevents water from sitting on the foliage. Water the squash weekly with 1 inch of water for best results.

    • 5

      Remove weeds from the soil when you notice them. The weeds compete with the acorn squash and steal most of the nutrients. The addition of a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch helps keep the weeds away.

    • 6

      Inspect the acorn squash for harvest in the late summer or early fall. The squash usually reaches maturity around August or September. The acorn squash will appear deep green and glossy once it ripens. The yellow spot where the squash sits on the ground will turn orange.

    • 7

      Remove the acorn squash from the vine by cutting it off with a sharp knife. Leave at least 2 inches of the vine on the squash.

    • 8

      Store the squash in a dry location in a single layer. Store acorn squash in a temperature range between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pinch the fuzzy ends off winter squash vines once fruit appears. This will help direct all the energy to the fruit.

  • Avoid adding insecticides to winter squash because they kill bees, which pollinate the squash. If you need to apply insecticides, use them in the late afternoon when bees are not present.

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  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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