Mary's Veggie Garden

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



  1. Great post. Love the tip about looking at the bottom of the green squash for that patch of color change.

    Comment by michellejudysutton — October 11, 2011 @ 3:23 am | Reply

  2. My vermicelli squash is still in immature stage,but its huge(12″) long.Do I harvest it or do I leave on the vine untill it turns yellow?

    Comment by Cita — August 10, 2013 @ 9:04 am | Reply

    • Leave it until the skin turns hard and yellow, unless frost is threatening. The more mature it is, the longer it can be stored.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — August 10, 2013 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

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