Winter squash season lasts well into December
It may be fall, but winter squash season has begun, according to gardening expert Jim Hankins.
Most varieties can be stored for months, instead of days like their summer squash cousins. Although technically a fruit, squash usually is prepared and served as a vegetable.
“The term winter squash means that it is a produce that will keep until the wintertime; not something raised in the winter,” explained Hankins, executive director of the Fauquier Education Farm.
Hankins offered growing tips for winter squash on an episode of “From the Ground Up,” a gardening segment on Real Virginia, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s weekly television program. It can be viewed at bit.ly/2lOEN0s.
Hankins noted that gardeners should let winter squash vines start to die back before harvesting. “Because this is a squash that is going to be stored for months, you want it to get that really rich brown or tan color. Butternut squash shouldn’t still be green or still have streaks on it. Then it will store a whole lot better.”
More than a dozen varieties of winter squash are grown and readily available this time of year. In 2018 Hankins grew spaghetti, carnival, butternut, acorn, cushaw and delicate squash varieties.
Whether you raise winter squash yourself or purchase it for eating later in the year, Hankins suggested storing it carefully.
“You want to keep them out of direct sunlight, cool and dry. Don’t put them in your refrigerator; they’ll just mold there,” he warned. “Put them in a cabinet out of direct sunlight, and they’ll keep for months.”