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Squash plants are closely related to cucumbers, courgettes and marrows, and are a member of the same family, curcubit. Squash plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and include butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkins.
Squashes generally have a rich, orange flesh, but their outer skins can range from pale cream to darkest green. Squashes can be subdivided into two categories: summer squash and winter squash. Winter squash are ready to harvest from mid-late autumn and are ideal for storing to use over the winter months.
All squash plants are grown in the same way, requiring a lot of space and nutrients. Set aside a generous portion of your plot to grow them in and add plenty of organic matter, such as homemade compost or well-rotted manure. This will provide them with sufficient nutrients to see them through their long growing season. Pumpkins and winter squashes are sown in late April or early May, under protection, in a greenhouse, conservatory or window sill indoors. These plants cannot tolerate frost. The seeds can be sown directly where they are to grow outdoors in the second half of May, but the four or five weeks indoors gives them a head-start. Sow one seed, on its edge, in a 12cm pot to avoid potting on. Be careful not to over-water at sowing as wet, airless compost can cause the seed to rot. Allow the compost to dry a little before watering, but do not delay watering.