How to Grow Squash in Compost

Raise a crop of squash in your compost pile for an easy-grows-it harvest.
Winter squash like "Turk’s Turban" are perfect candidates for growing in a compost pile.

Turk's Turban Grown for Decorative Purposes

Winter squash like "Turk’s Turban" are perfect candidates for growing in a compost pile.

Photo by: Peter Turner Photography /

Peter Turner Photography /

Winter squash like "Turk’s Turban" are perfect candidates for growing in a compost pile.

Convert your compost pile into productive garden space by using it to grow squash. You can plant directly in your existing compost pile, or create a special heap dedicated to squash production. This innovative growing technique features easy set-up, and compost-grown vines typically offer wonderful yields.

Winter squash, including pumpkins, adapt readily to compost growing. These long-season crops usually require an average of 90 to 100 days to mature, and their rambling natures are notorious for overtaking small garden plots. Tuck their seeds into a compost heap, and you can plant these garden gorillas where you can let vines roam. Good candidates for compost culture include butternut, ‘Delicata’, ‘Blue Hubbard’, ‘Marina di Chioggia’ and many other winter storing squash. Summer squash like zucchini, patty pan and yellow straight or crookneck varieties also thrive in compost garden plots.

Squash plants have hearty appetites, especially the larger types. When you grow them in a compost pile, hungry roots have a ready and abundant food supply. Expect larger squash and more of them when you raise compost-grown squash. It’s a great way to grow extra-large and even giant pumpkins.

Create mini compost piles to grow a host of squash vines, or simply use a corner of your permanent compost pile. The most important step in raising squash in compost is preparing the base. Start with partially-decomposed or finished compost, and add some available garden waste. Layer materials as you would in a compost pile. Include a soil layer to supply squash vines with a healthy footing and readily available minerals. Work about 2 cups of slow-release organic fertilizer into the pile.

Planting is the easiest part of the process. If you don’t have actual squash on hand, sow seeds directly into the compost pile in early spring. If you have squash on hand that you grew or bought at a road-side stand, each time you eat one, bury the seeds and skins from squash in the compost piles. Continue this practice through fall, winter and early spring—as long as your weather allows you to dig into unfrozen compost.

In spring, seeds will sprout as the compost warms. Using scissors, thin seedlings to three or four per compost pile. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around seedlings especially if slugs, pill bugs or earwigs in the compost pile start to nibble vines.

Direct squash vines as they grow so they won’t travel into play areas or nearby garden beds. Watch for squash bugs and hand-pick them from vines, dropping them into soapy water. 

Next Up

Zucchini 101: Planting and Growing This Super Squash

Get tips for planting, growing and harvesting your bumper crop of zucchini.

Types of Winter Squash

Raise your culinary sights by growing different types of winter squash. These nutritious vegetables boast delicious flavor.

How to Hand Pollinate Zucchini When It Won’t Fruit

Are your zucchini plants producing flowers but no vegetables? They might need help pollinating. It takes just a few minutes to hand-pollinate squash plants and it is easy to do.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Tomatoes

Consider this your ultimate guide to choosing tomato plants, planting, growing and caring for tomatoes, and harvesting the best-tasting tomatoes ever.

How to Grow Carrots

The secret to growing beautiful carrots is in the soil. Follow these tips to start your carrot patch off on the right foot.

What is Mushroom Compost?

Compost used to grow mushrooms commercially can be used again in your garden to make a wonderful fertilizer.

How to Grow Asparagus

Learn what's needed to grow asparagus from planting seeds and crowns and get advice on harvesting asparagus.

How to Grow Corn

Set your summer table with fresh sweet corn this year. Here's how to grow it in your own garden.

Planting and Growing Artichokes

Learn all the basics of growing artichokes, from planting artichokes to the right time to harvest them for your dinner table.

How to Plant and Grow Broccoli

Skip the grocery store produce section. Learn how easy it is to plant and grow tender, sweet broccoli in your own garden this season.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.