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Vegetable Gardening: squash question

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Forum: Vegetable GardeningReplies: 25, Views: 216
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helenchild
Decatur, GA

June 16, 2013
2:18 PM

Post #9561217

I have some winter squash plants, butternut and pumpkin, growing like gangbusters. I have noticed some of the butternuts are looking like they might be ready to pick but I thought they were suppose to be harvested in the fall. Is that correct? Or can I use the squash now?
Thanks,
Helen

Thumbnail by helenchild
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NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 16, 2013
4:26 PM

Post #9561346

Squash can be eaten at any age, but they will be sweeter if you let them fully ripen.
helenchild
Decatur, GA

June 16, 2013
7:59 PM

Post #9561584

Thanks NicoleC. When would you know they will be fully ripened? Like in the fall? Thanks again.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 16, 2013
8:01 PM

Post #9561586

When your fingernail won't make a mark on the squash it is ready to harvest- the longer on the vine the better.
helenchild
Decatur, GA

June 16, 2013
8:06 PM

Post #9561592

Thanks JoParrott. I will be patient and let them grow.

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 17, 2013
8:32 AM

Post #9562145

helenchild
what a clever question and I am so glad that you started this thread.
I also have a few butternut plants and I thought I need to wait for the fruit until the fall ...
I am so excited now !
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 17, 2013
10:31 AM

Post #9562287

drthor, you can eat them when they are young, but winter squash really should be allowed to mature on the vine until when you push a thumbnail into the skin it does not make a mark. Then after they are harvested they should age for a few weeks at least- that is when the full flavor and sugar develops. They will keep all winter in a cool dry place, and get better with age!

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 17, 2013
1:13 PM

Post #9562447

JoParrott
oohh I didn't know.
How long will it take (average) to mature on the vine?

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 17, 2013
1:46 PM

Post #9562481

I am in complete agreement with Jo -- they CAN be eaten but winter squash are best left alone to reach their full potential.

You can eat the whole squash plant. Some people do cook the leaves, and and eating squash blossoms is very common -- but I prefer the fruit!

Still, if frost is coming and there are unripe squash left on the vine, or you are thinning them out, or you just want to experiment, it's good to keep in mind the unripe ones don't need to be tossed. It's also a good time to try the greenery.
helenchild
Decatur, GA

June 17, 2013
8:18 PM

Post #9562899

I never would have thought to eat the leaves!. Do you boil it or steam it? Is it bitter and need a long cook? Anything good to add to it like say onions or tomatoes? Interesting.

lavender4ever

lavender4ever
(Louise) Highland, MI
(Zone 5b)

June 17, 2013
9:21 PM

Post #9562953

You can eat tiny butter nuts like summer squash too.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 17, 2013
9:50 PM

Post #9562975

Most of the Winter Squash I grow is from Thailand. I never ever thought of eating the foliage. If they are left on the vine too long will they get too ripe and rot?

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 18, 2013
4:52 AM

Post #9563108

It's mostly in Asian cuisine to eat the shoots and leaves, which usually means stir-fry or blanched, although I understand that they are also used in African cuisine in soups. I had them once in a Thai restaurant in a stir-fry. They aren't bitter but I don't recall them having much taste -- but it was a well seasoned dish. I've added them to a casserole at home -- again, they didn't really stand out from the rest of the food. Maybe I need to try some stir-fried at home with fewer spices.

I would think they do need to be cooked at least long enough to soften the prickly hairs. I'm not sure they are robust enough stand up to being boiled into submission with a bit of left over pig like greens are usually cooked in the South. :)

Here are a couple of recipes to give you some ideas:

http://praneesthaikitchen.com/2011/08/09/winter-squash-leaves-salted-coconut-milk/
http://tanglednoodle.blogspot.com/2009/10/food-by-friends-give-recipe.html
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 18, 2013
11:44 PM

Post #9564533

Regarding the pumpkins, if they are left on the vine too long do they rot? I use the finger nail test but if they are ripe I pick them and then let them cure. Can they be left on the vine too long.

Thanks for the recipes I don't cook Southern at all. I wonder how much nutrition the squash leaves have? They might be a good thing to use to make wraps. Just never even thought of eating the leaves.

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 19, 2013
4:51 AM

Post #9564646

Looks like a ton of vitamin A and C:
http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/pumpkin-leaves
That's nowhere near spinach levels, but people are always looking for summer greens, so there you go.

Regarding rotting, I suppose they could, if the ground is wet. I pick them as soon as fully ripe, too, because otherwise the squash bugs damage them. One year I pulled up all my vines and let the squash under an overhang to cure and left town for a few days. When I came back, my squash were literally covered in hungry squash bugs -- ick! They did a whole lot of damage and the fruit deteriorated in storage more rapidly than normal.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 19, 2013
4:54 AM

Post #9564653

I've never grown butternut squash, but all this great information has encouraged me to give them a try.

I assume they don't have tendrils (like peas) so keeping them up off the ground would mean tying them up in some way?

I have enough room that I could let them wander over the ground.

Anyone want to share links to butternut squash seeds?

drthor

drthor
Irving, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 19, 2013
7:58 AM

Post #9564851

JoParrott
you are right !
I was so excited that I have one zucchino from "Tromboncino" variety ... so I did harvest it.
It was green inside and tender. I grilled last night and it was good.
But two years ago I had a tons of those zucchini ... the second picture is from October 2011 harvest.
The zucchino inside was yellow and it made the most delicious sugary soup ...
So I will wait next time.

Thumbnail by drthor   Thumbnail by drthor         
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Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 19, 2013
8:24 AM

Post #9564878

[quote="NicoleC"]...robust enough to stand up to being boiled into submission with a bit of leftover pig, like greens are usually cooked in the South. :)[/quote]

Never quite thought of it that way. But, that's EXACTLY what we do, LOLOLOL!

Same thing with grits. You've simply got to boil them into submission!!!! And, those that don't, lose the war, miserably!

Linda

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 19, 2013
8:47 AM

Post #9564904

[quote="HoneybeeNC"]I assume they don't have tendrils (like peas) so keeping them up off the ground would mean tying them up in some way?

I have enough room that I could let them wander over the ground.

Anyone want to share links to butternut squash seeds?[/quote]

Butternut squash do climb with tendrils, although they prefer to sprawl and spread out. The fruit get very heavy, so if you tie they up you probably need to tie up the fruit as well, although the vines are pretty tough and sturdy.

The tried-and-true variety is Waltham Butternut (C. moschata), which is available pretty much everywhere. These plants do get big, and the fruits can be up to 5 pounds each although 3 lbs. is more typical. They need a long season to mature, but once cured store for 7-8 months in my 65F basement.

I've been trying the smaller varieties (that's a lot of squash!) but haven't had any success so far. This year I'm trying "Nutterbutter" and the plant looks good so far and has female flowers. Last year I did "Honey Nut" and they were neither productive nor disease and pest resistant, and the ones I got didn't taste very good.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 20, 2013
5:39 AM

Post #9565906

Nicole - thanks for the info. Now that I know butternut squash has tendrils, I can grow them on the permanent trellis I have.

drobarr

drobarr
Hummelstown, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 12, 2013
7:07 PM

Post #9596958

butternut squash when young are sort of a whitish light green and can be pictcked anytime they turn that mature beige color. If its early enough harvesting them can stimulate the vines to produce new flowers and more fruit. Butternut squash can be stored for months.

this is the best butternut that I have grown:
http://www.jungseed.com/dp.asp?pID=03615&c=147

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

July 13, 2013
7:17 AM

Post #9597356

drobarr - I recently purchased a butternut that looked just like the one in the photo from the link you gave. It had an excellent flavor. I prefer the butternuts that are "blocky" as they have fewer seeds.

Thanks for the link ^_^

drobarr

drobarr
Hummelstown, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 13, 2013
6:24 PM

Post #9597953

Your welcome HoneybeeNC.

You are right they do have fewer seeds. They are larger fruits...instead of the traditional two section peanut shape, they have three sections. I'm sure the variety has many different names depending on the seed company. I also still grow Walthams as well.

lavender4ever

lavender4ever
(Louise) Highland, MI
(Zone 5b)

July 13, 2013
7:01 PM

Post #9597982

Try roasting the seeds along side the halved squash. Yummy!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

July 14, 2013
7:31 AM

Post #9598360

I cook butternut in the microwave.

>give it a good scrub
> make several slits down the long side
>place in a microwave safe dish
>guesstimate how long it will take to cook LOL

darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

July 21, 2013
7:34 AM

Post #9606951

I love butternuts, but also grow other winter squash. I like those that are a max of 5 pounds as there is just me to feed (without too much squash waste). A new one (to me) last year was Red Kuri, but half of them spoiled on the ground, my fault for not protecting them from the grass and weeds in the new bed area.

I won't do hybrids as I'm a seed saver.

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