Is It Time to Pick Winter Squash?

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Yes, for most of us, it’s time to harvest winter squash. How do you know? Start with color. Waltham butternut squash should have no green on the skin and be a nice light brown. My Kuri squash, which were picked a few weeks ago, were a deep pumpkin orange all over. Blue Hubbards, the big boys of the winter squashes, should be a nice light blue-gray.

This butternut is still not ripe because it is showing greenish stripes

The vines tell you something, too. If the leaves have turned brown and dried up, they are not doing anything for your squash. Go ahead and pick them. And if frost is forecast, pick all your squash. They don't survive frost, and don't store well if frosted. 

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The skins of your squash are also indicators. If your fingernail can easily dig into the skin, they are still immature. A ripe winter squash is tough and leathery. That’s why the store so well. I cure them for a few days in a dry location before handling much.

Kuri squash were ripe a few weeks ago.

Where should you store your squash? Someplace cool (below 50 but above 35 degrees) and with low humidity. NOT in a damp basement, they’ll rot fast. Upstairs in a spare bedroom with the heat turned off is best.

One last tip: bring a knife or pruners to the garden at harvest time so that you can leave an inch of two of stem on your winter squashes. They keep better that way.

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