Another sweet-tasting winter squash you can add to your garden is the delicate squash. In this article, we will be giving some tips on how to grow delicata squash and when the appropriate time is to harvest them.
Delicata squash is a type of winter squash and it is botanically classified as Cucurbita pepo. This squash is known for its delicate tough outer skin and edible skin. Delicata squash grows pretty fast because they have a short growing season.
But do you know when to harvest delicata squash? Sometimes delicata squash may look like they are ready to be picked when it’s actually not the right time to pick them. It’s important to know the right time to pick them so you won’t pick them too soon.
So, let’s look into when to harvest delicata squash.
Delicata Squash Description
Delicata squash is also known as Bohemian squash and they are a member of the Cucurbitaceous family along with pumpkins and gourds. It is an heirloom variety that was introduced in 1891. It originated from North and Central America.
This squash appears small to medium in size and it ranges from around 12 to 15 cm in height and 5 to 7 cm in diameter. The shape of the delicata squash is narrow, long, and cylindrical, with grooved skin and lines that run the length of the squash.
Delicata squash skin is also thin, smooth with a creamy yellow base with green or orange vertical shapes. It has a firm, thick, fine-grained, and yellow to orange flesh with a central, hollow cavity. This cavity contains stringy pulp and many flat, hard, cream-colored seeds. Its season is mostly fall through early winter.
Delicata squash is a very nutritious squash. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, some B vitamins, fiber, beta-carotene, and potassium.
This squash is so versatile that it can be prepared easily. Its skin is thin and can be eaten with the flesh after cooking and the skin does not need to be removed. The taste is similar to sweet potato. It is great for slicing, stuffing, and roasting.
Tips To Know When To Pick Delicata Squash
Squashes like pumpkins are easy to harvest. Just allow the vines to turn brown and crispy and your pumpkin is ready to be picked. However, not all winter squash is that easy to harvest.
Harvesting delicata squash requires some extra knowledge to pick at the appropriate time. Harvesting delicata squash too early will only give you an unpleasant flavor. So, generally, delicata squash can be harvested roughly 80 to 100 days after planting.
Here are some tips to know when to harvest delicata squash:
- Pick delicata squash when the outer part or rind becomes hard and turns beige with an orange hue showing on the squash.
- To be extra sure, do a thumbnail test with your finger. The skin should be unable to be pierced with your thumbnail. Therefore, there should be no depression or dent on the outer skin.
- The stem should also be completely dry when delicata squash is ripe and the fruit should snap off easily when you pluck or twist them.
Harvesting Delicata Squash The Right Way
To harvest delicata squash the right way, prune off the fruits and avoid pulling them. We recommend using sterilized pruning shears. Then leave a long enough stem of about two and a half inches if possible. A short stem can predispose the fruit to rot.
Tips For Growing Delicata Squash
Growing delicata is pretty easy. Delicata squash is mostly grown on the vine. However, we also have the bushy variety. Adequate spacing is required for growing vining delicata.
The vining delicata variety requires about 60 square feet to grow and spread adequately. Bushy or semi-vine variety requires less space so they are ideal for smaller garden space.
Follow these tips to grow delicata appropriately:
Choose a sunny spot to grow your delicata. Delicata requires full sun to ensure their soil remains warm. Therefore, avoid any shaded spot like under the tree or house shade.
2. Add Compost To The Soil
Compost should be added to the soil. 3 inches layer of compost should be tilled. This provides the seeds with nutrients and fertilizer to grow optimally. It will also boost their chance of survival.
Seeds should be planted when you’re sure all the dangers of frost have elapsed because seeds won’t germinate in cold soil. Ensure the temperature has been habitually above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for five consecutive days before planting. You can also start your seeds indoors and transplant them into the mounds when they sprout.
Plant delicata seeds one inch deep into the mounds of soil. You can plant one to six seeds per mound and ensure they are spaced evenly.
Once they begin to germinate, thin out of them and leave 2 or 3 strongest seedlings per mound.
4. Water Thoroughly
Soaking your mounds is required to give delicata seeds sufficient water to grow. They are in full sun, so the soil tends to evaporate and dry easily.
Again, when the seeds start to germinate, more water is required. You can water your delicata deeply once a week. However, you can as well water slightly when you notice the top one-inch soil becomes dry.
Continue to water as they grow. You can always do a deep-watering once per week. Then you can water again sparingly whenever you notice the soil is dry. However, avoid overwatering your delicata plant and avoid watering the leaves but water the soil directly instead.
Delicata squash is pretty delicate compared to other squash. They tend to go bad more quickly. Therefore, when you’re storing them, ensure they get adequate air circulation.
Ensure you only store delicata fruits that are in good shape. Use any delicata squash that is showing signs of crack right away.
You can store delicata squash for about 3 months. Store them at room temperature in a cool, dry place. The temperature should be around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can as well freeze the fruit. Just cook the delicata squash till it gets soft. Scoop out the flesh then pack and label in a freezer bag.
Conclusion On When To Harvest Delicata Squash
Delicata squash is a great-tasting squash. To have a good idea of when to harvest your delicata squash, simply look through the tips we listed.