Squash, Winter (Festival Acorn)
Renee's Garden Brand
Pretty and tasty Festival acorn squash are creamy colored with decorative green and orange stripes and each weighs just 1-2 pounds, perfect for individual servings. They grow on compact, semi-bush vines, saving garden space. These powerhouse plants bear heavily, producing literally dozens of squashes that keep their flavor and quality for 3 months after harvest. Simply cut in half, remove seeds, and oven roast with a little butter and (our favorite) a spoonful of maple syrup. Yum!
BEST TO START OUTDOORS
Long keeping winter squash needs full sun, rich fertile soil and warm temperatures. Wait to plant until nights are reliably above 50°F (10°C) both day and night. Sow groups of 2 to 3 seeds 2 ft. apart and 1 in. deep in rows 4 ft. apart. Thin to 1 strong seedling per group to give plants ample room to grow. Or make slightly mounded hills 2 to 3 ft. across and 5 ft. apart and plant 4 to 5 seeds in each hill. When seedlings have several sets of leaves, thin to the strongest 3 seedlings per hill.
Protect young seedlings from marauding birds by covering with plastic berry baskets at sowing time, removing before plants get crowded. Thin seedlings properly; you’ll get more squash from well spaced plants.
HARVEST AND USE
Winter squashes need to mature properly, so don’t harvest until vines have died back and squashes’ exterior rinds are fully colored and tough enough to resist piercing with a fingernail. Then cut squashes from vines, leaving a good stem handle. Cure in the sun for about 10 days, before storing in a cool dry place to keep for 2-4 months. To prepare, cut squash in half and bake until tender.