Growing Calabaza in West Central Florida:
Calabaza, a type of winter squash, is a popular crop in West Central Florida due to its adaptability to the region’s warm and sunny climate. If you’re looking to add this versatile and flavorful squash to your garden, here are some essential tips to successfully grow calabaza:
- Ideal growing conditions: Calabaza thrives in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be fertile and enriched with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure.
- Planting and spacing: Sow calabaza seeds directly into the ground after all chances of frost have passed and the soil has warmed up. Plant the seeds about 3-4 feet apart to allow ample space for the sprawling vines to spread.
- Watering and maintenance: Calabaza plants require consistent moisture, especially during dry spells. Water deeply and regularly, ensuring the soil remains evenly moist. Applying mulch around the plants helps retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
- Pollination: Calabaza flowers require pollination to set fruit. Encourage pollinators like bees and butterflies to visit your garden by planting nectar-rich flowers nearby or using companion planting techniques.
- Harvesting: Calabaza is typically ready for harvest when the skin becomes hard and the vine starts to wither. The squash should have a vibrant color and sound hollow when tapped. Cut the calabaza from the vine, leaving a short stem attached.
By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a successful harvest of delicious and nutritious calabaza from your West Central Florida garden.
For more information on calabaza and how to grow it, be sure to watch our recorded class with Dr. Meru, University of Florida plant breeder: