Mmmm..I love me some winter squash! When harvested fresh, there truly isn’t anything like it! Unlike Summer squash which is usually harvested earlier in the year, winter squash is harvested after the rind has hardened and the fruit has fully matured. Winter squash are best harvested around late September or early October. But, of course, harvest dates heavily depend on the weather conditions in your area. Here’s what you need to know about harvesting winter squash.
Let’s get harvesting! First, you should determine if it’s actually time to harvest your squash. On average, all winter squash (varieties like Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti) all should be harvested somewhere between 80-100 days after planting. Think back, if you can, to when you planted and determine if it’s getting near time to harvest your crop. If it’s been around the time needed to complete the growth cycle, head out and inspect your crops! If their skin colors are a deep, solid color and the rind of the squash is hard (seriously, you should be able to hit your knuckles against it like you would a pumpkin) it’s time for harvesting winter squash!
You will want to harvest all squash before the first frost of the season hits your growing region.
To harvest, use a sharp garden knife to cleanly cut the squash from the vine. Take care to leave a few inches of stem left attached to the squash to keep it flavorful while in storage. Also, do your best to avoid any cuts or bruises while harvesting! Damage to your fruit can make the rotting process happen much quicker than it normally would. No one wants that! If you do happen to give your squash a good bruise while harvesting, make sure that you use it ASAP. If you can’t use it quickly enough, toss it or give it to someone who will!
After harvesting winter squash, store it in an area of 50-55 degrees. Depending on the variety (Acorn squash only store for about a month) you can store winter squash for up to six months at a time! If you are planning to store your squash for a prolonged period of time, store your squash in an area where they will NOT touch one another. If the squash doesn’t touch, it minimizes the spread of rot and disease drastically. If you don’t have the room to store your squash in this way, do not store your squash more than two deep. Again, this helps to minimize the spread of rot!