I love watching our winter squash mature, but it does require patience.

Many garden vegetables – summer squash, peas, green beans, lettuce and carrots – must be picked young to be at their most tender and tasty.

Winter squash, like a fine wine, requires maturation.

According to report by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, they will reach their maximum size three weeks after the initial fruit set. The starches and dry materials have completed developing after about a month, an extra week or so.

But the squash is not fully mature and at its tastiest until about 55 days after fruit set, when the seeds are fully developed. If the squash is picked before then, the seeds will continue to develop, taking nutrients from the fruit’s flesh instead of the soil.

Generally, I wait until late September or early October to harvest ours, bringing it to the shed first to dry out a little, then to the basement to store, where the temperature is 50 to 60 degrees.


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