Winter squashes are grown during the summer, harvested in the fall and stored during the winter. Butterbush is a dwarf vining plant whose vines reach a length of 4 feet. Direct sow seeds outdoors (1/2-1” deep) around June 1st (plant 2-3 seeds together in patches with each patch spaced 2’ apart in rows 3-4’ apart). Days to germination: 4-10. Thin seeds to one plant per “patch”. As with all cucurbits, squash plants do not like their roots disturbed during transplanting so if you are starting seeds indoors, use biodegradable pots. Start seeds indoors May 1st – ideal temperature for germination is 85°- 95° (use heating mat). Squash seedlings are sensitive to damping off fungus so keep germinating seeds on the drier side and use a fan (set to low) to provide air circulation. Once 2 leaves appear, grow plants at 72°. Do not let plants become potbound. Transplant (pot and all) outdoors around June 1st, spaced 2’ apart in rows 3-4’ apart. Squash plants like soil with a lot of organic matter so add compost and/or decomposed manure to soil prior to planting. Protect seedlings from cucumber beetles and squash bugs by covering seeds/seedlings with row cover fabric at planting and leave it on until plants are flowering. Protect squash plants from deer and groundhogs.
For winter squash, harvest before frost when skin is hard enough that you can’t push a fingernail into it. Store winter squash at 50-60° for long-term storage.
Butterbush belongs to the species Cucurbita moschata and will cross (by insect) with all other Cucurbita moschata squashes (including Butternut). Isolation distance is ½ mile (or you can save seed and see what you get!). Minimum population size: 6-25 plants but you can save seed from fewer plants if the seeds are for your own use. Always select seeds from the best plants. Scoop out seeds from mature fruit, rinse and dry seeds.