I have grown squash for the first time from some loose seeds given to me. How do I know when they are ready to harvest? At the minute they largest one measures about 5 inches from top to bottom.
Thanks in anticipation.
Hi Tina, it's best to leave them on the vine as long as possible. Once all the leaves die or there is a frost forecast then harvest them all as they won't keep if they get frosted. Most squashes change colour in some way when ripe. I suspect the yellow stripes on your particular variety will turn to a deep orange when they are ready and the green will get darker. Squashes will keep for several months indoors - I put them on my conservatory windowsills where they look very decorative.
Thanks, I found that useful too. I have a single squash plant that I was given by a friend, who said it was a butternut squash, but so far the fruits are pale green striped (the largest one is about 4 inches long now). Is it perhaps not a butternut? Or do some squashes have stripes when they're juveniles, like some mammals? Can't be for camouflage, though, so I'm confused. I suppose time will tell.
What if the first frosts arrive before they are fully ripened. Are they still edible or lantern material or are they like tomatoes which can be taken indoors if green to be ripened?
Where I am it's going to be 4 degrees tonight so, it's getting close to 0 and I don't want to lose them all.
Green Magpie, there are a lot of different kinds of Winter squashes with all sorts of shapes and colours and some folk call them all butternuts. If the seed was saved from a squash grown last year, it could be a cross between two different Winter squash varieties and there's no telling what colour or shape it will be. It will still very likely be very good to eat but the taste may not be as good as a pure-bred variety.
Andrew, if they get frosted they are still good to eat but won't keep. You can harvest them and ripen them indoors on a sunny windowsill but they are best ripened on the vine if you can. If the vine is looking the worse for wear and the leaves are already going yellow then you may as well harvest them now as they won't grow any larger with no food coming from the leaves.
Thanks for that Bob, you reply is a great help.