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BEST TO START OUTDOORS
Squash needs full sun, rich fertile soil and warm temperatures. Plant only when weather is warm and settled and night temperatures stay above 50°F (10°C). Make slightly mounded growing hills 2 to3 feet apart. Sow seeds 1 inch deep, 8 inches apart, 4 seeds per hill. Thin seedlings to leave the 2 strongest plants per hill so vines will have room to grow and mature.
Protect young seedlings from marauding birds by covering with plastic berry baskets at sowing time, removing before plants get crowded.
HARVEST AND USE
Delicata needs the full growing season to mature properly. When rinds are tough enough to resist a fingernail, cut fruits from vines with a good stem. Let them cure for 10 days in the sun, then store in a cool dry place. Delicatas should be eaten within 6 weeks of harvest for best flavor. To prepare, simply cut in half and bake, or skin and sauté the sweet flesh to serve with butter and a sprinkling of salt. Add a pinch of sage or thyme for an herbal accent. Or bake with a little butter, cinnamon and honey.
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