I try, year after year, to grow large winter squash down here, with poor results. This year I planted Boston Marrow, Pink Banana, Blue Hubbard, Pennsylvania Dutch Crooknect and an unknown Hopi variety. I have one large Boston Marrow - gotta be at least 10 to 15 pounds - but the skin is still soft and the stem is green - a few other smaller Marrows, one sizable Hopi, a skinnyand maybe a half dozen other smaller squashes. I hand pollinate whenever I see a female flower, but I see a lot of 5 or 6" failed baby squashes.
I love winter squashes and so I try, year after year. Still have to buy new seeds because I can't be certain of the purity of all the varieties I grow.
Waltham Butternut is a small winter squash, and I always have success with them.
I plant early in May, after the soil warms up. This June we had mostly 100+ degree weather. That hot spell ended the last week of June with lots of rain. We have had lots of rain since the last of June thru today - usually we don't have any real rain from June thru August and usually not until mid September. So, after watering my plants - keeping them alive and now they are very moist.
I'm afraid that the hot weather may have been detrimental to female bud production and pollination.
I'm very frustrated with the heat I have to deal with and the usually dry conditions.
Also, I try to hand pick squash bugs, but things have gotten out of hand and last week I went on a Malathion rampage and did serious damage to the squash bugs that have helped kill my summer squash, zukes and winter squash. Before my 'treatment', I was seeing squash bugs - dozens of them - all over, and usually either laying eggs or producing those eggs
They were out of hand and I had to do something really effective. Do or die time.
I try to hand smash squash bug eggs, but they are all over - numerous clumps on single large leaves. The natural predators just wern't doing the job - so I had to help. I went on the rampage after seeing too many large vines dying and the leaves drying up. I know that I have some squash vine borers and they are probably doing serious damage to the dying vines. I tried, until they get too thick, to pile up dirt at leaf joints so that the roots set and grow into the soil. Don't know how effective that is.
Has anyone had success with large winter squash in the hot south, zone 8?? I would really like to know what to do differently. So much work for such a small yield. But winter squash are important to me and the way we cook in the winter - If I can't grow enough, I have to end up buying some crummy little winter squash from the grocery store - and I don't like to do that: crummy selection and expensive.