These squashes are mainly eaten when mature and can be stored for several months. Grown in summer and stored over the winter. They are high in stored carbohydrates and a good source of vitamins C and A. Squash blossoms are quite edible.
Should do well anywhere that has adequate soil. Plant in warm soil, 70 degrees or more, or start indoors 1 month before last frost and plant out once weather has warmed. Likes well-composted soil and reliable water. Likes some watering. Can be either bush or vining. Vining varieties are more vigorous with big root systems that go deep for water and nutrients. Bush varieties are usually earlier. The edge of a compost pile or a spot where tree leaves have been piled over the winter is ideal. Harvest when the vines die down, the stem dries up completely or frost threatens, whichever comes first. Flavor improves markedly if the squashes are cured--2 weeks for pepos; a month for maximas and moschatas.
Fruits are baked, boiled, fried, steamed, stuffed, and mashed. Fine as a stand-alone vegetable. Used in pies, breads, cakes, soups, stews, and puddings. Seeds are eaten raw, roasted, or ground into meal. The young stems, leaves, and flowers of many varieties are cooked and eaten.
How do I choose? If you are wondering whether you will like a variety, one thing to note in the description is whether it is a moist or dry-fleshed type. Another is the degree of sweetness. Beyond that, you might buy a couple in the grocery store to get an idea of their flavors. The smaller, single-serving squashes will feed you til Christmas- then you will need long keepers for late winter. The varieties that take longer to mature also keep longer. They are often large- but you can bake a large squash, then put the leftovers in the freezer to heat up later. After it's cooked, winter squash freezes perfectly, with no fuss. Squash can be either bush or vining. Vining varieties are more vigorous with big root systems that can go deep for water and nutrients. They are big plants, but can be trellised or climb up a fence, teepee, or even a tree. Bush varieties are usually ealier. Some are in between, noted as short-vined types.