Are you looking for a healthy and easy-to-grow alternative to traditional pasta? Look no further than spaghetti squash! With its unique pumpkin-like appearance and noodle-like texture, this winter squash is a tasty and nutritious addition to any meal.
But how do you grow spaghetti squash at home? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll take you through the various spaghetti squash growing stages, from planting the seeds to harvesting the fruit.
With a little patience and care, you’ll be enjoying your own homegrown spaghetti squash in no time.
Quick Introduction To Spaghetti Squash
|Description||Squash plants whose fruit looks like yellow crooknecks and has an oblong shape|
|Soil Needs||Loose soil, rich with plenty of organic matter|
|Sun exposure||Full sun- at least 6 hours per day|
|Planting||Sow seeds directly in the garden|
|Watering||Keep soil evenly moist but not overly wet|
|Fertilizing||Use high-nitrogen fertilizer|
|Pests & diseases||Watch for any problems and treat quickly|
|Harvesting||Harvest squash when they’re 6-8″ long and the skin is hard (fingernail test)|
|Additional notes||When unharvested, these plants produce vines that cover the ground quickly and prevent light from reaching other plants nearby|
Spaghetti squash is a winter squash with a tough skin that can last a long time. It’s similar to other types of winter squash varieties like butternut and acorn, which also take a while to grow and are usually harvested at the end of the season.
If stored correctly, it can last for months. Unlike other winter squashes, spaghetti squash has a stringy texture and smooth, yellow skin when ripe.
In addition to having a firm rind and an excellent shelf life, spaghetti squash is a good source of minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese¹. It is also low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a popular choice for those following low-carb or gluten-free diets.
The 5 Spaghetti Squash Growing Stages Explained
Spaghetti squash requires a long growing season and warm climate conditions to grow. Therefore, understanding the stages of growth is essential for gardeners to monitor and ensure their plants are healthy and thriving.
Here are the five stages of growth for spaghetti squash:
Stage 1: Germination – Seed To Seedling
If you want to grow your spaghetti squash plants, you must start with new seeds. The seeds can be found in the fruit, close to the stem.
Seed starting trays are also popular for growing spaghetti squash from seeds. These trays come with small soil pockets where the seeds can be planted and germinate into seedlings. Alternatively, you can also purchase pre-germinated spaghetti squash seeds.
For the best germination, soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours is essential.
Germination is when a seed sprouts and grows roots. Depending on the temperature and humidity, it usually takes 2 to 10 days. For spaghetti squash, it takes 7 to 14 days.
To make sure the seed grows, it needs enough water and oxygen. Sow seeds in damp soil, in the sun, at least one inch deep in the ground, and at least 12 inches apart.
For container growing, each container should be three inches wide and hold three to four seeds planted one inch deep. The container should be placed in a warm area to promote germination.
Sprout To Seedling
Once the seed has sprouted, the seedling stage begins, during which the plant develops its first set of true leaves and grows taller. This stage lasts about four weeks, during which the seedlings grow larger, and their leaves toughen up.
Keeping the soil moist but not damp during this stage is essential, as the seedlings need good drainage. Fertilize the seedlings with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks to promote healthy growth.
Gardeners typically start growing spaghetti squash seeds indoors in large containers about a month before the last frost date.
Stage 2: Transplanting
After the last frost date, spaghetti squash seedlings can be transplanted into a garden bed. The garden soil should be loose and fertile, with aged compost manure added before planting.
Spaghetti squash plants should be placed in a sunny area with at least six hours of sunlight daily. Each hill should be spaced at least three feet apart.
Stage 3: Vegetative Growth
During the vegetative stage, the squash vines grow quickly, adding new leaves, stems, and roots. This phase can last two to four months, and the plant will continue expanding until it reaches its desired height.
In this stage, spaghetti squash plants will grow either male flowers, which have a bushy appearance, or female flowers, which are long and thin.
These flowers will produce pollen or eggs during their bloom, carried by wind or insects for pollination. Usually, bees help pollinate spaghetti squash.
If bees are not available, you can hand pollinate the flowers by using a q-tip to brush the inside of a male flower and then transferring the pollen to the inside of a female flower.
Once fertilization occurs, the flower fades, and the fruit begins to develop seeds. It takes approximately 100 days for these fruits to reach their full size.
Stage 4: Reproductive Stage&Nbsp;
The reproductive stage is the fourth and final stage of spaghetti squash growth. Depending on fertilization while the pland is in the vegetative stage, the plant will produce either male or female fruit at this point.
The male fruit has a stiff stem at the end, giving it an egg-like appearance. Similarly, the female fruit has a small squash sprouting from the point where the stem and fruit come together.
When the fruits are ready for harvest, they will turn yellow with orange and crimson streaks, resembling pumpkins or gourds commonly used as fall decorations.
Stage 5: Harvest
Spaghetti squash is ready to be harvested when the skin is thick and resistant to puncture and the vine begins to wither.
To ensure spaghetti squash is ripe and ready to be harvested, you can follow these steps:
- Look for a deep, rich yellow color on the skin. The skin should be firm and free from any soft spots or blemishes.
- Check the stem. The stem should be dry and brown. The squash is not yet ready to be harvested if it’s green or moist.
- Test the skin with your fingernail. The skin should be hard enough to resist being punctured by your nail. If the skin is easily punctured, the squash still needs to mature.
Make sure to pick all the squash before the first frost in the fall, or else they could get damaged and will last less time. For example, to pick spaghetti squash, take the fruit off the plant, but leave a little bit of the stem (about 1-2 inches) attached.
Stage 5: Storing
Spaghetti squash should be stored at room temperature if the weather is dry, but it will last for months if stored in a dry and moisture-free location. Whole squash can be stored in the fridge for up to 15 days.
After cutting, spaghetti squash can be stored in the fridge for up to one to two weeks. If you need more extended storage, you have several options.
One is pressure canning, which involves placing the squash in jars and processing them at high pressure to eliminate bacteria.
Dehydrating is another option, where you can dry out the squash and store it in a dry, cool place for several months.
Freeze-drying is also a method to freeze-dry the squash and store it in a vacuum-sealed container for up to several years.
Understanding the growth stages of spaghetti squash is important for gardeners to ensure healthy and productive plants. Proper care and maintenance throughout each step can lead to a bountiful harvest of delicious spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti Squash Growing Season
Despite being called a “winter squash,” spaghetti squash is usually harvested during mid to late summer. However, in some regions, it can be harvested in early winter.
Unlike summer squash like zucchini, which has a thinner skin and smaller seeds, winter squash varieties can be stored for a long time.
Caring For Your Crops & Maintenance
To ensure healthy growth and fruit production, taking care of spaghetti squash plants involves regular watering, removing weeds, and controlling pests.
It’s also essential to prune the plants by removing fresh blooms to promote the growth of the fruit. Additionally, mulching or covering the fruit is important to prevent rotting.
If you’re growing spaghetti squash in a container, each plant needs at least five gallons of water daily. Give the plants extra nutrients while it’s growing to make up for any deficiencies in the soil.
Spaghetti squash is a type of plant that grows best in warm weather and needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. While it can still grow in some shade during the summer, it’s ideal to have full sun in the spring and fall.
Pests & Diseases
Cucumber beetles and squash bugs are common pests that can be removed by hand. Mildew growth can be prevented by eliminating weeds and watering at the base of the plant rather than on the leaves.
Spaghetti squash plants are susceptible to powdery mildew, which is common in many squash plants. To prevent the leaves from getting wet, it is recommended to water the plants at the base in the morning.
How Long for Spaghetti Squash to Grow?
Growing spaghetti squash from seed is a simple process, though it can take about 90 days and requires patience.
If you can’t harvest it all in the fall, you can store it by freezing or refrigerating it, and then plant it again in the spring.
1: Winter Squash. (2017, December 15). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/winter-squash/
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.