The fall season is filled with extraordinary bright, earthy colors from various plants, especially the gourd type vegetables like pumpkins and squashes. It’s also the season for harvesting these crops. We’ll take a further look at one squash in particular, the butternut squash. It may not be as lively in color as the classic field type pumpkin we’re use to seeing at Halloween. However, this winter squash is known for the hard shells as oppose to summer squash, like the cucumber, with a softer skin.
Butternut squash is beige to light orange in color that is shaped like a bell or vase with a bulbous end. You can easily find them in supermarkets and grocery stores. However, if you want to plant some butternut squash for your garden, or you have some already, here are excellent tips on how to grow and harvest them. If you have your first crop of butternut squash, but not sure when to pick them, then you need to read further on. Find out what to look for in your butternut squash first and foremost. Once you have them picked, this squash is excellent for making soups with.
Growing Butternut Squash
Since butternut squash is a fall vegetable, and it takes at least three months or more to harvest, you will need to plant them in the spring.
Like its namesake it is part of the squash family, which includes zucchinis, melons and cucumbers. The latter squashes are known as summer squash, whereas the butternut squash is categorized as a winter squash, since it lasts throughout the winter.
After you have planted the butternut squash simply water, weed and look out for the annoying vine borer pest as butternut squash grows on a vine. These pests love winter squashes.
Harvesting this Winter Squash
After the end of the summer season, which is officially in September, you can carefully cut the squash from the vine with a sharp knife.
Be sure to have at least a two-inch stem on the squash. Otherwise, a shorter stem or none at all will invite bacteria into the temporary soft spot.
If the squash is damaged when you cut it off the vine simply throw it in a compost pile.
However, if it is bruised, has no stem, or the skin has been cut you should eat them as soon as possible, since you cannot store them. Otherwise, they are ready for storing.
What to Look For in this Squash
Make sure to look for certain colors, approximate sizes, an absence of lines and the texture as well as the color of the vines in determining when they are ripe and ready for picking.
As for colors the butternut squash tends to change colors so it is important to know what color to look for when it comes time for harvest.
There are certain sizes to measure when the butternut squash is at peak form.
Make sure the vertical lines are gone on the squash.
The vine itself will be dried out when it is ready. The color of the vine will go in three stages from its initial color to the midterm and into its final ripeness that will be its brightest.
When is the Right Time to Pick?
Now you are more than ready to know when it’s the right time to pick butternut squash.
The ripe colors on the butternut squash will either be pale or light orange. Check out the image photos at the top to get an idea.
Initially, there will be green vertical lines that fade as the squash matures and is ready for cutting off from the vine.
Approximately the ideal sizes for a mature and peaked butternut squash are between 8 to 12 inches or longer.
In the beginning the vine will be green, then a tan color to its brown, dried-out color and texture.
Great for Soups
After you have successfully grown, harvested and picked your butternut squash they are superb to make soup out of. One of my favorite soups is homemade butternut squash. Someone made it for me during the Christmas holidays one year. It was absolutely delicious. I’ll never forget it. One thing I remember about this soup was its sweet, nutty flavor. There are other ways to utilize butternut squash. You can use it as a puree to replace pumpkin in pies and cakes. It’s a great filling for lasagna or ravioli. Now, first time growers of butternut squash can feel more confident in knowing they have all the right information on when to finally pick butternut squash in the fall.
“Squash – Summer & Winter Squash – Squash Varieties”, What’s Cooking America
Sandy, “Fall’s Butternut Squash, Planet Veggie Garden
Jackie Rhoades, “How and When to Harvest Butternut Squash”, Gardening Know How
Mike, “How to Know When it is Time Time to Pick Butternut Squash”, eHow