Image by The Marmot
By Heather Rhoades
Squash are popular with home gardeners. But questions can arise around when to harvest squash. Is the best time when to pick squash the same for all kinds of squash? Is the size of summer squash or winter squash a factor in when to pick it? Read on to find out.
When to pick summer squash
Summer squash include zucchini, yellow crookneck, patty pan or scallop, yellow straightneck and any other squash that has a thin, tender skin.
The size of summer squash can become rather large, but you will enjoy them more if you pick them small. The best time when to harvest squash of these varieties is while they are still small. The size of summer squash when it is ready to be picked is around 6 inches long or wide, if it is the patty pan variety.
Beyond this size, summer squash begins to develop a think skin and become bitter. The flavor is not the best for cooking. Frequent harvesting will also encourage the plant to produce more fruit.
When to pick winter squash
Winter squash includes butternut, acorn, spaghetti, buttercup and any squash that you can store through the winter.
Winter squash are used when they are fully mature. This means that the best time when to harvest squash of this variety is at the very end of the growing season, right around the time of first frost. If by chance your vine is damaged by pests or weather that force you to harvest early, other indicators of a winter squash that is ready to pick is to tap on it gently. If it feels solid and sounds slightly hollow, than it is ready to be picked.