Celeste in the Garden

Winter Squash

Celeste Longacre

Winter squash is a premier vegetable for easy storage for the colder months.

Our ancestors grew many of these beauties for just this reason. They are also quite prolific; once established in the spring, they continue to put out blossoms and fruit into the early fall.

Now is the time to purchase some winter squashes and pumpkins from your local farmers. They are usually not too expensive as you are buying them in season. Our local organic farm is selling squashes for $2 apiece and pumpkins for $2.50. A friend of mine who loves butternut squash just had to have one last April. As she hadn’t stored any herself, she bought it from the local coop. It wasn’t until she got home and looked at her receipt that she realized she had paid $10 for this squash!

If you want the squashes to keep, they need to be perfect. When selecting your choices, make sure that they have no dings or bruises and that they also have a stem attached. Be careful not to drop them. They will need to be “sunned” (if the farmer hasn’t already done so) which means placed in a sunny spot for a couple of weeks. Bring them in or cover them if frost threatens. Move them around so that all of the surfaces get some Sun.

Once sunned, you can bring the squashes (and pumpkins) in for the winter. They don’t like to be damp or cold so the cellar is not the right place for them. I put mine on the beams in my living room with a bit of newspaper under each one. They like the dry air here and it’s also best if they don’t touch each other. Because I can see them, this allows me to keep an eye on them. Most of them will last well into spring but, if they start to decompose, I can grab them and cook them up right away (or feed them to my chickens). Not only are these items delicious, but they are good for you as well.

Read more about growing squash here.


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Oh for sure-I buy a load of

Oh for sure-I buy a load of them each fall. I set them outdoors under cover in a basket. They receive morning sun then shade the rest of the day. Most of them keep really well! The ones uneaten will dry and harden. When shaken, the seeds will rattle sounding like Mexican musical instrument. Fall is a very special time each year-the beginning of a new dry-cycle for these beauties!

I can't grow enough winter

I can't grow enough winter squash to keep my wife happy and we always end up buying more when it shows up in the stores. Last year I did and experiment with 10 store bought acorn squash. I put 5 in the garage and sunned the other 5 for 7 days before storing them. The sunned squash stayed firmer for about a month longer than the others.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your first-hand experiment! It's great to hear the very real benefit of sunning the squash!

I was wondering the same

I was wondering the same thing as Cassandra. I bet they get picked and shipped before that sunning process.

I'm glad to hear that the squashes can be stored in a warmer area. I have one on my kitchen counter and was afraid it might be too warm for it. It has been doing just fine so far, so I figured I'd leave it there until I saw any problems and then eat it up quickly if I did see any spoilage.

These are great tips! Do I

These are great tips! Do I have to "sun" squash that I bought at a market (or grocery store)? Or, do most farmers already cure them?