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Butternut squash

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ThomsonAS:
Have returned from holiday to find butternut squashes have gone loopy.  Have nipped-out  smallest fruits but would welcome  more advice. Can I remove stems and leaves back to the viable fruit or let them grow on? Should I try and give the more developed fruit extra sun or stick slates under to keep them off the earth? Feed the plants? Water them more? This is only the second year I've grown them!

Beersmith:
I would not do anything.  The leaves will die back naturally as we move into autumn. You will then see the squashes gradually ripening and the skin and stalks getting dry and hard.  This is what you want.  Once they have had this period of "curing" they will keep very well in an airy frost free store - I've had some last until the new year.  Never leave them so long they get frosted. But at this time of year do not be tempted to cut too early. Just harvest those you intend to eat immediately. Cut too early the stems will weep and may provide an entry point for decay.  You will not do any harm putting them on a support like slate but I have never found it necessary. Surprisingly once they get to any size they rarely seem to rot just from sitting on the earth. 

I think the fruits are naturally adapted not to decay quickly. If not eaten the squashes would sit on the ground and do an excellent job of keeping the seeds safe until the spring when the outer flesh would decay leaving the seeds ideally placed to germinate and begin again.

You are correct to remove the tiniest fruits as they may not have time to grow and mature but I tend to wait until late August to do so. I eat these small ones first.  Sometimes given a mild autumn they get to a reasonable size and provide a useful few extras.

Beersmith:
PS

I don't feed or water at this stage (unless in serious drought conditions) but opinions may differ. 

Peanuts:
We normally have a very good crop of our Waltham butternut squashes here in SW France.  i used the last of 202O crop the end of May, and it was still perfect!  This year has been my first total failure (apart from the horrendous hail storm that wiped the lot out in 2009 :sad10:).  Something to do with the weather this spring, lots of rain (the potatoes have been the best ever), and then very dry? also neglected them, as we were over in the UK seeing family for the first time in over a year. 
There are only four fruit, normally I'd have 20+, and each has split from top to bottom.

Tiny Clanger:
Glad you've  posted this. I have same problem

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