I am growing Delicata squash for the second time. Last year the vines started wilting, probably from a bug or virus, and I picked the squash that was growing all at the same time. This year, the vines are growing strong and the squash at the bottom of the vines looks like it might be ready to pick. I’m not sure how to tell that a Delicata is ready. I don’t want to leave it on the vine as it might discourage further fruit from setting. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.
Hello @auntrah. I grew Delicate for many years, wonderful, nutty flavour. This year I’ve changed over to butternut squash. With practice you’ll come to see a change of colour of the skin, but until you have that experience, the easiest way to tell is to press your thumbnail into the skin of the pumpkin. If your nail breaks the skin it isn’t ready yet, the skin should be hard and not able to be pierced. If you want to store them for any length of time you need to cut about 15cms of stalk in each direction from the stem. (This is a bit complicated to explain, basically you’ll have a Y shape with stalk forming the two arms and the stem and pumpkin forming the leg.) Place the squash outside or in a carport, out of direct sunlight and turn it every couple of days to finish hardening the skin, especially the bit that was in contact with the ground as it was growing.
If your squash is at the beginning of a run of fruit and you cannot cut the growing stalk, cut the stem as long as possible, dry the skin as described above but use these ones first.
If you plan to grow squashes and pumpkins to store for winter use, it is important to be pinching out the growing tips as the young plant grows. This encourages bushy side growth which you can pinch off after 2 fruit have set so that you can cut the longer stalks at harvest time.
Enjoy your Delicata, I love mine roasted whole then sliced open and a knob of salted butter, a sprinkle of pepper and a wedge of ripe Camembert shoved inside. Mmmm. (sorry, this was my only choice of pumpkin emoji)