How to Pick Squash

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Picking squash requires a very particular technique and just the right tools. Pick squash the right way with help from an experienced gardener in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Fall Gardening
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Kathy Martin author of the blog Skippy's Vegetable Garden a journal of my sustainable garden. I'm here in my fall garden in Belmont, Massachusetts with my dog Skippy and his friend. And I'm going to show you how to harvest squashes. So, there are two main types of squashes, a summer squash and a winter squash. The summer squash like the zucchini here and a yellow squash had a very delicate skin, they grow fast and they need to be harvested every day or so in the summer. The winter squash like the butternut squash here has a very hard skin, it grows more slowly, it's best to leave it on the vine until it's fully ripened and picked just before a freeze. So, let me show you how to harvest the winter squash. The best is to leave it on the vine until just before a freeze, leave on the field, in the field, it'll be fine. If you need to harvest it before then if say you're are afraid of theft or animals eating it, one way to tell if it's ready is to look at the stem, if the stem is brown and very hard and firm and you look at the tendril and the leaf and if they're both dried, so there's a tendril that's just opposite the fruit and a leaf that's just opposite the fruit, if both those are dry and brown, then the squash is ready to harvest. So, you do need to use a pair of good strong clippers to harvest a winter squash and then leave about a half inch of stem. Summer squash comes in a number of types, summer squashes is the squashes that have, that grow fast and have soft skins, zucchini is one type of summer squash, this is a yellow squash, there are also patty pans squashes and round shaped zucchinis. So, one of the most important things with harvesting squash it to pick it at the right stage. You want to pick it when it's young and tender before it gets too big and with the zucchini and the yellow squash, that would be right about when it's about 5 inches long, 4 to 6 inches long. And squash grows very fast especially in the middle of the summer and in order to find all the squashes that are growing, you do need to check your plants every two days, to pick them at the right size. If some of your squashes get bigger they're are still good for using in breads and baking and other items. And the other thing to be aware of is that the squash plants are, can be pretty prickly especially zucchinis, so if that is going to bother you and scratch your legs or arms you might want to wear long sleeves or long pants. The way I pick squash is to use a knife, grab hold of the squash and the plant is lifted up a bit to make the stem available, then you're going to put the, the knife in and just slice, but be gentle in picking up the squash because the skin is very delicate and is easy to, to damage it. You can also use clippers, garden clippers if you'd like, but they're a little bulkier to get in there, in to the plant. Some gardeners have a method where they pull the stem up and then give it a twist and flick off the plant without a cutting tool, I find it safer to use a cutting tool. And that's how to harvest summer and winter squash. I'm Kathy Martin author of the blog Skippy's Vegetable Garden a journal of my sustainable garden. Enjoy your sustainable garden and grow some great vegetables for your family.

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