Cushaw squash (cucurbita mixta) is a popular winter squash grown in the southern parts of the United States. This delicious squash is fairly easy to grow and will produce some very large and delicious squash. It is often used in sweet ways such as pie or sweet bread.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We are also affiliates for others and only endorse products we support. You can read more about our disclosure policy here.
What is cushaw?
Cumshaw squash (cucurbita mixta) is a winter squash that grows noticeable green and white stripes along the body of squash. When it begins growing, it often looks like other winter squashes such as pumpkin or acorn which start with stripes. However, unlike these other squashes, these retain the stripes and the green gets darker and the white portion because more stark.
You will want rich soil and a good depth to allow the roots to spread well. You can let it grow along the ground or up on a trellis. If you do trellis the cushaw, as I do because I am limited on space, you will want to keep your eye on the squash vine borer. While it is more resistant to this pest than zucchini or yellow summer squash, it can still struggle with them.
Related post: Managing common garden pests
How do you grow cushaw?
Cushaw squash is hungry. You need plenty of rich soil, not too acidic and a good way for the vine to spread. The leaves of cushaw are HUGE. They easily shade out plants underneath so keep that in mind when planting other plants near by. A common way to trellis is vine is use cow panels but you can also you lots of different trellises. It is important to make sure the trellis is extra strong as the squash can get very heavy and break the vine. Many people let them spread on the ground for this reason. If you have the space, this might be a good idea.
They also need plenty of sun, ideally a full 6-8 hours of morning sun. In the summer heat with afternoon sun, the leaves can wilt a little, even if well watered. These heat loving plants take a long time to grow their squash to harvest. They need about 120 days from seed to harvest. If you live somewhere with short summers, consider starting them indoors and transplanting them outdoors after the threat of frost has past.
Another aspect to growing cushaw is to make sure it has plenty of water but try to not water the leaves if possible. This can lead to fungus which will ultimately hurt the vine. Ideally, you can water the squash with drip irrigation below the large leaves. This ensures the roots get plenty and the leaves won’t get fungus from being too wet for too long or getting scalding in the sun.
When do I pick the cushaw?
Like many winter squashes, it is generally ripe when you cannot puncture it with a fingernail. Other people say to wait until the vine dies and dries out. Once picked, bring the squash inside to a cool, dark area to let it cure. Just as you would a pumpkin, for about a month or so.
Like any winter squash, it should sound a little hollow when thumped. This implies that the inside has fully formed the seeds and allowed for space in the middle of the squash. In many ways, the cushaw is like growing a butternut squash. The neck of the squash will not have any seeds and be ideal for getting some fresh squash to cook with.
How do I use cushaw squash?
Cushaw pie is a popular southern dish as the squash is so easy to grow here. However, you can use this as you would almost any winter squash. I have used it successfully in curried vegetable dishes, grated into fritters, grilled in pieces. All of these are savory versions of this great squash. For more awesome ways to use cushaw, check out this post from Wellness Mama: How to Cook and Preserve Cushaw.
What is your favorite squash to grow? LEAVE a comment and let me know.
Don’t forget, pin for later: