A pair of lovebird butternuts taking a long winter's nap—they'll last well into spring in a cool corner. (Though they appreciate delicate handling, they do not really need pillows.)

Waltham Butternut Squash

Curcurbita moschata

Certified Organic Seed

A winter staple: fill a cool closet with butternuts and you'll have squash until spring.

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Among all of the colorful and unusual varieties to choose from, it's important not to overlook some of the familiar, tried and true staples. Along with many other gardeners and farmers, I think that no matter what funky squash we grow for fun, there will always be a bed of smooth pale butternuts. Butternut squash is one of the most blandly colored, yet sweetest and most richly flavored of the winter squashes. Once baked (for about 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees), its yellow-orange flesh is smooth as silk. Slice into it with a fork and billows of steam rise up. It's equally delicious eaten plain or in soups (try it with curry flavors, with apples, topped with toasted nuts or seeds).
Number of Seeds 30 seeds
Spacing in Row 24 to 36 inches
Spacing Between Rows 36 to 48 inches
Planting Depth 1 inch
Days to Germination 7 to 10 days
Days to Maturity 70 days
Height at Maturity 24 inches
Width at Maturity 4 feet
Direct sow after frost, or start indoors 2-3 weeks earlier. Transplant in hills spaced 6' apart, 3 plants per hill, or in rows 36" apart. Plants can grow 6' or more, so give plenty of space to take over. Mulch early to help suppress weeds. Butternut squash is easy to grow. Keep watered for the first couple weeks, and then--in most years--you can forget about them until October. Just don't get caught off guard by an early frost: once nipped, the fruits develop soft spots and quickly go bad in storage. Harvest when squash are buff-colored with no trace of green. Cure in a dry, warm place for a week or so, then store in a cool, dry, dark place.

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