This is the time of year to be growing your own food and for many people this will involve using a vegetable patch.
However not all of us have access to gardens and we may need to think of other ways of growing fruit and vegetables on balconies, decks, patios and even rooftops.
Spaghetti squash is one of many plants that can be easily grown in a container with reliable results, making it an ideal choice for a small space.
You will need a large bucket with drainage holes or large planting container. Fill with good quality compost and plant your squash plant in the center. If you choose bush type spaghetti squash then you will maximum return for the space used. You can grow a vine type squash and will need to erect something for it to climb up if you do.
What is the best size of container for a spaghetti squash to grow in?
A container or pot for a spaghetti squash should be at least 7 inches (18cm) deep, but if you grow bush varieties then 6 inch pots work well.
You can recycle plastic buckets too. Just make sure that you drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.
Try other containers to give your area an alternative look and feel – as long as the container has enough depth – feel free to experiment.
Should you grow spaghetti squash from seed or buy plants?
If you want to save time and can find a garden supplier or store that has young plants for sale then this is probably the best option.
You will be able to get the plants potted out quickly into your containers meaning that you will get squashes much sooner.
However, you might not be able to source plants in which case you will have to sow and germinate the seeds yourself.
This is an easy process and there are lots of reliable varieties of spaghetti squash seeds available.
Amazon can be a good source to try if you like to buy online.
How to sow spaghetti squash seeds
Squashes need a long growing season and, unless you live in a place where you have year round warm weather, you will need to sow your seeds indoors.
Plant the seeds in pots of compost about a month before the frosts are due to end.
Keep them watered and in a warm spot in gentle sun.
The plants will grow quickly once the seeds germinate and you may need to pot them on into larger pots before they go into their final, outdoor containers.
Only plant them out when all frosts have ended as they do not withstand cold weather and will die if subjected to frost or cold winds.
Putting the plants into their outdoor containers
Wait until at least 2 weeks after the last frost before you plant young squashes out.
You will need one container per squash plant and it will need to contain a good quality, all purpose compost.
Simply pot the spaghetti squash plant into the center of the container, making sure that all of the roots are covered and that the plant sits upright and sturdy in the pot.
Water gently and stand in a warm, sheltered spot.
Growing instructions for spaghetti squashes
You have to make sure your plants are still watered and weed-free while the leaves are developing. Once they’re fully grown, their wide leaves will shade out anything that could potentially grow in the dirt around it.
When the summer is coming to a close, you’ll need to remove any new blossoms your squash vines produce. Once they are gone, there won’t be time left for them to mature and the plant’s resources will better develop already-producing fruit.
Squash fruits are prone to rot if they lay on the soil as they grow. To prevent this, place tiles or straw underneath each squash to keep it from lying directly on top of the soil.
Watch out for pests such as slugs and snails while your spaghetti squash plant is growing.
They will attack the young leaves of the plants, leaving unsightly marks behind and can also kill a small developing fruit.
A tried and tested method for keeping pests at bay is to use beer traps – shallow dishes with some beer in them. Slugs are attracted to the beer and drown in it.
How to harvest spaghetti squash, how to pick a spaghetti squash
You will know when your squashes are ready to be picked by their weight – they will feel heavier than before. Poke at them with your fingers or try lifting them to see how they feel.
In terms of size, as there is no hard rules for this, I would suggest that when you can’t quite encircle the squash with two hands then it is probably ready to be picked.
To harvest a spaghetti squash all that you need to do is cut through the stem with a sharp knife and lift the fruit out of the container.
How to store spaghetti squash
Once you have picked your squashes, they should be placed somewhere cool and dry where they will not be exposed to direct sunlight or lots of heat.
Freshly harvested squash fruits can last a few weeks if kept in good conditions; however, as soon as their skin starts to wrinkle and their flesh softens they should be used or frozen.
Growing a vine spaghetti squash vs growing a bush spaghetti squash
There are two main types of squashes – those that grow on vines and those that grow as bushes.
Vine-type plants will usually produce several large fruits per plant, whereas the bush-types may produce more but they’ll be smaller in size.
The difference between these two varieties is most noticeable in their size and the fact that vine-types produce runners which can grow more plants from.
When grown in containers the vines can be allowed to run across the ground or you can train them to grow vertically, up a trellis or support made from cord or wire.
Spaghetti squashes can be easily grown in containers.
They are a reliable plant and, if you can provide them with good potting soil or compost with lots of sun then they will reward you with a good crop of fruits.
There are many different varieties that you can choose from so why not try a few different types in your garden?