Mary's Veggie Garden

October 15, 2011

Rumbo Squash: How it grows

Filed under: Gardening,Squash,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:09 pm
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Oct. 9 the overnight temperature at my Vassar Farm community garden plot was cold enough to frost burn the squash leaves. With the squash vines dead, I harvested the remaining Rumbo squashes, all of which were immature.

Rumbo squashes, stem side.

The frost provided the rare opportunity to gather squashes at several stages of maturity for photography.

Rumbo squashes, blossom end. They usually grow blossom side up and the top ripens first.

I started harvesting fully mature Rumbo squashes around Sept. 1. I’ve noticed in the past, and it was also true this year, that a vine often sets new squashes after its mature squashes are removed. That is why I found so many young green squashes in October.

Rumbo in garden, showing the typical growing position, blossom side up.

Rumbo squash vines sprawl all over the garden. My Rumbos were planted slightly off-center in my 20’x40′ plot. By frost the vines had reached all sides of the garden and started climbing the fences, so the vines were about 30′ long.

The squashes weight in at 12-18 pounds. The harvested squashes in these pictures are 12-15 pounds, except for the baby.

The smallest Rumbo is young and quite tender; more like a summer squash than a winter squash. I grated it and used it in place of zucchini in my standard recipe for zucchini bread. Yummy!

October 4, 2011

Winter Squash Harvest

Filed under: Gardening,Squash,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:43 pm

Early Butternut squash, Small Sugar and Lumina Pumpkins, 2003. Lumina is a white pumpkin.

Every September people ask me

How do I know when my winter squash is ready to harvest?

A winter squash is ready to harvest when it reaches its mature color.  That is the color of the winter squashes you find in the market. The bottom of a green squash may have a creamy spot which darkens from yellow to orange as it matures.

What if you are growing a squash not generally available in the market? Check its color on your seed packet or in the on-line catalog.

As a squash matures, its colors change subtly. Here are some pictures to help you distinguish between mature and almost mature squash.

Waltham Butternut

Butternuts progress from pale green to deep butterscotch. I harvested a couple of under-ripe butternuts because the vine was dead. My Waltham butternuts are averaging 2.7 pounds each.

Waltham butternuts: the left squash is mature, the right one is least ripe.


Rumbo is a huge squash which I use for winter soups and squash bread. A young Rumbo is deep green but as it ripens butterscotch replaces the green. The squash on the right still has some green blotches showing. Both squashes were growing bottom side up and I should have done a better job of inspecting surface facing down before harvest.

Rumbo Squash, left 15 pounds, right 13 pounds. The Rumbo on the right shows a bit of green so I should have left it on the vine a bit longer.


Tetsukabuto squashes start out dark green and stay dark green even when ripe, just like an Acorn squash. And like an Acorn, a Tetsukabuto has a light patch where it lies on the ground. The patch becomes orange as it ripens.

Tetsukabuto squash.

Tetsukabuto squash rotated to show a light orange patch on the bottom.

I also have several solid green Tetsubabuto squashes hanging from my tomato trellises. I’ll harvest those when night temperatures regularly dip below 45 degrees.

An August hail storm shredded the squash leaves in these two pictures.

My Tetsukabuto squashes are around 3.5 pounds each.


Immature Vermicelli squash

Vermicelli is a variety of spaghetti squash which I tried for the first time this year. I was surprised by its size, averaging a bit over four pounds each. Vermicelli ripens from light green to bright yellow.

Mature Vermicelli squash; harvest when bright yellow.

What if frost threatens before your squash is ripe? Harvest immediately and let the squash mature inside. It will ripen slowly in the house however the flavor won’t be as good as a vine ripened squash

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