Can you grow squash with limited garden space?
Growing squash can be a challenge for homeowners with small gardens. They just take up too much space, sometimes leaving no room for other vegetables to grow. Come harvest time, those rambling vines would’ve scattered all over the yard in places where they shouldn’t be in the first place.
Luckily, there are many small squash varieties that are ideal for growing in patio containers and small backyards. Not only are these varieties compact, they also bear fruits in small individual sizes so they don’t go to waste.
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Growing Different Squash Varieties
Just like any other vegetable, squash comes in different varieties to suit every gardener’s needs. Would you rather grow squash on trellises or sow them in raised beds? What recipes will you use them for? Are you planning to harvest early in summer or in mid-autumn?
To begin with, there are two main categories for all squash varieties: summer squash and winter squash.
A. Summer Squash
Summer squashes are warm-season crops that have a bushy growth habit. These are harvested during the summer when the rinds are still edible. Summer squash varieties include crookneck, straightneck, and pattypan varieties. Some gardeners like having tomato cages when growing tall summer squash varieties.
- Crookneck varieties have a slightly crooked “neck” or stem end.
- Straightneck varieties have a straight “neck” or stem end.
- Pattypan varieties have scalloped edges and are shaped like a flying saucer.
B. Winter Squash
Winter squashes are cool-season vegetables that grow rambling vines and develop fruits with a hard shell. Unlike summer squashes, these are harvested in fall when they’re fully mature and ready to be stored for the winter. Some gardeners use trellises and other support when growing winter squash varieties.
Selecting Compact Squash Varieties
Now that you’re familiar with the different types of squash, it’s time to choose a suitable variety that won’t take over your garden.
Here we have collected 22 summer and winter squash varieties that either grow as compact, small bushes, short vines, or even a combination of both (semi-bush). You may sow these in patio containers, large pots, raised beds, or simply let them sprawl and spread.
You won’t have to worry about squash covering your pathways – they’re space-saving varieties, after all.
The Balmoral squash is a pattypan variety. This compact summer squash is a fast-growing bush that grows up to 2 feet wide instead of sprawling over the garden. It bears huge attractive flowers and scalloped white squash.
Mature Balmoral squash plants can reach a height of 2 to 3 feet, about 70 days after sowing. The delicious fruits are best harvested early when they’re 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
The Butterbush squash has a similar shape, color, and flavor as the butternut squash. This winter squash grows as a compact vining plant that reaches up to 3 feet wide. It bears 3 to 5 squashes per plant and may be grown in large containers.
The Butterbush variety has a richer, sweeter flesh and fewer seeds than the regular Butternut. After 75 to 90 days from sowing, mature plants can grow up to 2 feet tall and produce 12 to 18-inch fruits.
3. Cube of Butter
The Cube of Butter squash is a straightneck variety. This compact summer squash is a low-growing, open bush plant with fewer prickles for easy harvesting. The buttery yellow fruit has a creamy white flesh and requires 3 to 4 feet of garden space.
Mature Cube of Butter squash plants generally grow up to 2 feet tall after 50 days from sowing. Each fruit has a firm texture with buttery-flavored flesh. Harvest the fruits once they are about 8 inches in size.
4. Early Summer
The Early Summer squash is a compact heirloom variety that only takes up 3 to 4 feet of garden space. This high-yielding bush plant is a fast-grower, producing yellow swan-necked fruits with bumpy skin and creamy white flesh.
Early Summer squash plants can reach about 1 to 2 feet tall when fully mature, which would be around 53 days from planting. Fruits have a rich, buttery taste and are best picked when they are around 5 to 6 inches.
The Fancycrook squash is an early-maturing squash variety. This summer squash has an open bush habit and may be grown in patio containers. Even with little garden space, it bears high yields of yellow crookneck squash.
Mature Fancycrook squash plants grow up to 2 feet tall. On average, it takes 40 to 50 days before the fruits are ready to be harvested. This squash variety has a crispy, white flesh and is best picked once the fruit reaches 5 inches in size.
6. Flying Saucer
The Flying Saucer squash is a compact vining summer squash that requires 4 to 5 feet of garden space. It’s a disease-resistant variety with beautifully scalloped fruits, each having a vibrant mix of yellows and greens that vary with temperature.
Mature Flying Saucer squash plants have a height of around 2 to 3 feet tall and produce fruits that are 2 inches wide. They are ready to be harvested 50 days after sowing. Each fruit has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flesh with a hint of spice.
7. Gold Bar
The Gold Bar squash is a prolific straightneck variety with creamy white flesh. It grows 3 to 4 feet wide and bears golden yellow fruits on compact bush plants. This summer squash is capped with green at the stem and blossom ends.
Gold Bar squashes are best picked when they reach 6 to 8 inches in length. The fruits have a firm, delicious texture. After 50 days from sowing, the mature plants reach a height of 2 feet once they’re ready for the harvest season.
8. Gold Nugget
The Gold Nugget squash is a small winter squash with bright orange skin and golden flesh. Also known as the Oriental Pumpkin, it produces pumpkin-shaped fruits on compact bush plants that grow 3 to 4 feet wide. This variety was originally bred as a substitute for sweet potatoes.
It takes an average of 90 days for Gold Nugget squash plants to reach full maturity. The 2-lb fruits taste sweet and have a starchy texture. When stored properly, Golden Nugget squash can last up to 5 months.
The Honeybaby hybrid butternut squash is a highly productive winter squash variety. This compact semi-bush plant grows short, vigorous vines around 2 to 3 feet long. Each plant yields 8 to 9 fruits that are shaped like light bulbs with orange shells and flesh.
Honeybaby squash plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and will fully mature in about 90 days. The fruits taste very sweet with a meaty texture just like butternut squash. Perfect for steaming or baking, Honeybaby squashes may be harvested once they’re 7 inches long.
10. Honey Bear
The Honey Bear squash is a sweet hybrid variety of the acorn squash. This winter squash grows as a compact bush 4 feet wide and is highly resistant to powdery mildew. Each plant produces 3 to 4 fruits with a dark green rind and light amber flesh.
Honey bear squash plants grow up to 2 feet tall and may take 85 to 100 days from sowing before they fully mature. By then, the fruits can be harvested. This variety bears sweet fruits weighing around 1 lb. each.
11. Horn of Plenty
The Horn of Plenty summer squash is a yellow semi-crookneck variety. This prolific hybrid produces pale yellow fruits on compact bushes around 2 to 3 feet wide, and it’s perfect for small gardens.
Horn of Plenty squashes may be collected 45 to 50 days after planting, or when they reach the desired length of around 6 inches. The plants grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet and bear delicious, tender fruits.
The Pic-N-Pic summer squash is a Burpee-bred crookneck variety. This bush type variety grows very well with limited space, requiring only 1 to 2 feet of garden space to produce high yields of lemon yellow fruits.
Pic-N-Pic squash plants can grow up to 2 feet tall and require 42 to 56 days in order to fully mature from seed. The fruits are about 4 to 6 inches in size, each with a thick texture and mild flavor.
The Sugaretti squash is a new spaghetti squash variety intended for smaller gardens. This winter squash has semi-bushy vines that spread up to only 2 feet wide. A great pasta substitute, it produces high yields of white, green-striped fruits with yellow flesh.
Sugaretti squash has better flavor and is a bit smaller (around 8 to 10 inches) than the standard spaghetti squash. The plants grow up to 1 foot tall and usually take 90 days to fully mature from seed.
14. Pinnacle Spaghetti
The Pinnacle Spaghetti squash is a smaller spaghetti squash variety which grows only 1 to 2 feet wide. A heavy-bearer, this semi-bush winter squash produces bright yellow fruits that have the same taste as spaghetti squash.
Pinnacle Spaghetti squash plants may reach a height of 2 feet and will fully mature in 85 days after planting. The 3-lb fruits are best harvested when they’re about 4 to 8 inches long. This variety has a rich and tasty flesh that may be used as a pasta substitute.
15. Potimarron Chestnut
The Potimarron Chestnut squash is a compact winter squash variety with vines growing up to 2 feet long. Each plant produces 3 to 6 fruits with orange skin and yellow flesh, similar to pumpkins. This squash also has a delicious chestnut flavour and edible skin.
Potimarron squash plants take about 85 to 95 days in order to fully mature and reach a height of 1 to 2 feet. Each fruit weighs about 2 to 4 pounds. This variety is excellent for baking and roasting.
The Sugarbush winter squash is a compact acorn squash variety. This vining plant is resistant to powdery mildew and can reach up to 4 feet long. It bears fruits with dark green skin and sweet, orange flesh with a pleasant texture.
Sugarbush squash may be harvested once the rinds have hardened and orange patches appear on the bottom. The plants reach 2 feet in height and require 90 days after sowing to reach full maturity.
17. Reno Acorn
The Reno Acorn squash is an acorn squash variety with a dark green shell and golden flesh. A compact, single-stemmed bush plant, this winter squash covers 3 feet of garden space. It’s a strong, productive variety with fruits that have a sweet, nutty flavour.
Reno acorn plants need 75 days to grow from seed to full maturity. They grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet. Each fruit is about 5 inches wide on average, and is noted for having a delicate texture.
18. Table Gold Acorn
The Table Gold Acorn is a fast-growing winter squash which, ironically, also belongs to the family of summer squashes. Also known as Golden Acorn, this squash variety grows as a compact bush that requires only 2 feet of garden space. Each plant bears 3 to 4 fruits with firm, golden skin and orange flesh.
Most Table Gold Acorn plants have a height of 1 to 2 feet. It takes 85 to 95 days for the plants to germinate from seed and reach full maturity. The fruits have a smooth, rich flavor and grow up to 5 inches long.
The Sundance squash is a productive, standard yellow crookneck variety. This summer squash has a compact, bushy habit and covers 2 to 3 feet of garden space. It produces tender fruits with a smooth and bright yellow skin.
Sundance squash plants grow up to 1.5 feet tall. They produce early and eventually mature at an average of 50 days from sowing. The tasty, 6-inch fruits are perfect for freezing and canning.
20. Tivoli Hybrid
The Tivoli Hybrid squash is another spaghetti squash variety that grows as a compact bush. The plant sets out short vines spreading for 4 to 5 feet and can still grow in large containers. This winter squash produces pale yellow fruits with a creamy flesh.
Tivoli hybrid plants will reach a height of 2 feet. It takes 98 days from seed before the squashes are ready to be harvested. The fruits are 10 inches long and 6 inches wide, with a crisp texture and a sweet, delicate flavor.
The Zephyr squash is a cross between a yellow crookneck and a hybrid of the acorn squash and Delicata squash. It is a straightneck summer squash that grows as an open bush about 1.5 to 2 feet wide. A prolific variety, the fruits have a slightly bowed neck with a yellow stem end and a light green blossom end.
A mature Zephyr plant can reach 1 to 2 feet in height. The plants needs an average of 50 to 60 days to completely develop after sowing. The fruits are firm and have a pleasant fresh flavor. Harvest the fruits when they reach a size of 4 to 6 inches.
22. Ronde de Nice
The Ronde de Nice squash is a French heirloom known for its freckled, light green fruits. This summer squash grows 1.5 to 2 feet wide, making it an ideal variety for small gardens. It has a tidy bush growing habit that produces fruits with very thin skin.
The flavorful, meaty texture of Ronde de Nice makes it ideal for stuffing. When the fruits are about 1 to 4 inches wide, they are ready to be harvested. The squash plants mature in 50 days and reach a height of around 2 to 3 feet.
If you’d like to search for a particular variety by their name, growth habit, harvest season, or fruit shape, then please check out the table below.
Who knew squash could be a space-saving crop?
Not everyone has the time and resources to keep those sprawling vines from getting out of hand. That’s why small squash varieties are a must-have for gardeners with limited space. Whether they’re bushes or vining plants, these selected compact squash varieties are just as delicious, colorful, and productive as their wide-spreading relatives.
How about you? Have you tried growing any compact squash varieties this year?
|NAME||VARIETY||GROWTH HABIT||FRUIT SHAPE|
|Cube of Butter||Summer||Bush||Straightneck|
|Horn of Plenty||Summer||Bush||Crookneck|
|Ronde de Nice||Summer||Bush||Round|
|Table Gold Acorn||Winter||Bush||Acorn|