With the cool weather and short days of October, thoughts often go towards pumpkins and winter squash.
Winter squash are a great home garden veggie to grow. Once established, they grow easily, eventually forming fruits in late-summer to mature in fall.
While the traditional varieties include the popular butternut, acorn, and buttercup, I like growing unusual varieties too, such as spaghetti squash (yes, the flesh really does look like spaghetti, but of course doesn't taste like it), delicata, and hubbard squash.
The key with any of these winter squash types is knowing when to harvest and how to store them. If done properly, you can store winter squash well into winter and -- for some types -- into spring.
The first step is harvesting. Wait until the winter squash skin turns the mature color for that variety. Once that color, there's no hurry to harvest. You can leave the fruits in the garden, but make sure you harvest before a frost.
When harvesting, leave about two inches of stem attached and don't bruise the fruits. Wipe the skins clean with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill disease spores, cure in a warm 80 degree room for two weeks, and then store for up three to four months in a 50 degree dark, airy location.
Different varieties of winter squash will last in storage for different periods of time. Of course, always eat any squash that are getting soft first. Acorn squash stores the shortest amount of time: four weeks.
Spaghetti squash stores four to five weeks; Buttercup squash 13 weeks; Butternut squash up to six months and Blue Hubbard, six to seven months.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about composting. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.