Growing Ambercup Squash

Ambercup squash is a relative of the buttercup squash that resembles a small pumpkin with orange skin. In fact, many people refer to this type of squash as mini-pumpkins. It’s bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste. To cook it, start by peeling it, then dice the flesh, roast it, and serve like cut-up sweet potatoes.

To plant ambercup squash, start by waiting until the danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm.  Squash seeds do not germinate in cold soil, and the seedlings are injured by frost.  Ambercup squash grows on vines and every vine will probably require at least 20 square feet.  The vines should grow on mounded soil (known as hills).  Plant the seeds one inch deep and use about four or five seeds per hill. Try to space the hills at least five feet apart. Once the young plants are well-established, thin each hill to the best two or three plants. Try to allow at least seven feet between rows.

Ambercup squash plants should be kept free from weeds by hoeing and shallow cultivation. Only irrigate if an extended dry period occurs in early summer. Ambercup squash requires minimal care after the vines start to cover the ground.  Generally, they will just need to be weeded and kept free of pests.  The most common type of pest is cucumber beetles, which can be picked off of new vines.  If you choose to use pesticides, use one formulated for beetles only.  Remember that bees are necessary for pollinating and are killed by insecticides.  Therefore, if insecticides are used, they should be applied in late afternoon or early evening after the bees stop visiting blossoms for the day.

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Ambercup squash can be harvested whenever the fruits have turned a deep, orange color and the rind is hard. The squash is usually harvested between June and November depending on local climate conditions.  It is important to harvest ambercup squash before the first frost appears, as this vegetable can be very susceptible to cold.  Cut the squash from the vines carefully, leaving two inches of stem attached if possible. Avoid cuts and bruises when handling this vegetable.  Squash that is not fully mature, have been injured (bruised, cut, or has had its stem knocked off), or has been subjected to heavy frost should be used as soon as possible or composted.

Store ambercup squash in a dry building where the temperature is between 50 and 55°F.

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