Growing Organic Squash and Pumpkin Basics

Despite their difference in taste and appearance, the two main types of squash, summer and winter, are closely related botanically and are grown and cultivated in the same way. Along with melons and cucumbers, they belong to the gourd family, all members of which need a lot of room to grow.

Summer squashes usually grow as sprawling bush plants. Their fruits are harvested long before they reach maturity, while their skins, which may be green, yellow, white or striped, are still tender and edible. Many summer squashes are cylindrical in shape.

Squash© iStockphoto/ThinkstockSummer squashes include yellow squash, zucchini or green squash; and the white or pale green scallop squash.

Most winter squashes grow as vines, requiring even more space than summer squashes. They are left on the vine until fully mature; by then, their rinds are tough and generally inedible. Fruits come in several colors that may change with maturity, and may be squat, long, round or onion shaped. Skin may be smooth or ridged. Properly stored, winter squashes can be kept throughout the winter.

Pumpkins and inedible ornamental gourds fall into the winter squash category.

Plus: 15 Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins are simply a kind of squash — some of them growing as bushes, others as vines. Like winter squashes, they are allowed to mature before harvesting.

The types of squash seem infinite. Summer squashes include yellow squash, zucchini or green squash; and the white or pale green scallop squash. Most summer varieties can be picked within 50 to 60 days after planting.

The earliest-maturing winter squashes are acorn and butternut, which are ready to be picked in 75 to 85 days. The turban-shaped buttercup squash matures in about 100 days. Slate-gray or green Hubbard squash, which can grow to enormous size, is ready for harvest in about 110 days. Pumpkins ripen in 90 to 120 days.

All squashes need a rich, loamy soil that will naturally retain moisture, and grow best when nutrients are added in the form of organic humus or fertilizer, and never chemical fertilizers. Regular watering is essential for summer squash after transplanting and during flowering and fruiting. The deeper-rooted winter squash needs watering only in dry weather.

Plus: Buttercup Squash Custard Recipe

  • Republished from:

    The Canadian Illustrated Guide to Gardening

    buy NOW$59.96

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.