It’s the first week in October and it really feels like autumn is with us in the UK, with quite a bit of rain, heavy dews and cooler mornings – things are really slowing down now in the garden. That means it’s time to start harvesting your squash, marrow and courgettes, and to clear the ground to get it ready for crops again next year.
In a recent video, our friend Martin of Pots & Trowels is in the veg plot to show you how to harvest your fruits with some simple steps. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the advice you need to fill your store cupboard with delicious seasonal crops!
How and when to harvest squash
Leaving squashes to ‘cure’ on the plant is the best way to harvest your butternut squash. Leave the skin to go hard – you shouldn’t be able to push your thumbnail into it – and the stalk to start browning off from its usual green. You can tell by tapping on the fruit itself too – if it sounds like knocking on a wooden door then it means that the skin has gone hard, and it’s time to get harvesting!
If your fruit ready to harvest, then grab a pair of secateurs or harvesting knife and cut through the stalk to remove it from the plant. Once harvested, keep them somewhere cool and dry and they’ll stay in good condition right the way through to Christmas and beyond. They can last as long as into January and February, and they’re great for using in all sorts of delicious winter dishes.
However, you can also harvest your squash before it’s cured (the fruits will be paler and softer skinned) if you wish, they just won’t store as well as their cured counterparts. If you decide to harvest them at this stage, then store them in the fridge and eat them within a week or two.
Why have my squashes split, and are they still edible?
Squashes can split when, at some point while the fruits were developing, the soil has dried out and the plants have also dried out as a result. This, combined with rainfall on the hard skin, can cause your squashes to split. Don’t fret, though! These split squashes are still perfectly edible. Just use up those fruits first (ideally within a week) trim off the damaged piece and enjoy the remainder of the flesh.
Harvesting marrow and courgettes in autumn and how to store them
If your garden has been anything like Martin’s this season, then you’ve probably been harvesting a glut of courgettes over the past few months. However, now with the cooler weather, your plants should be slowing down production and as the temperatures start to get lower some of your fruits may be starting to rot off.
If you’re lucky to still have some tender baby courgettes to harvest at this point, then gather them up and they’ll store well in fridge to be eaten in the next week or so.
Whether you’ve specifically grown marrow from seed or you’ve left some courgettes on the plant to reach their full potential as marrows this season (did you know that marrows are essentially just the adult version of a courgette?), it’s time to harvest them too once they’ve ‘cured’ like the squashes. Store them in a cool, dry place such as an outhouse, shed or cellar (so not as it’s not damp) and they’ll keep right the way through winter.
Where to buy Darlac tools
Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre, or you can buy selected products direct online from our website. Find your local Darlac stockist here.
If you enjoyed this blog post and the Pots & Trowels video, be sure to subscribe to Pots & Trowels on YouTube and to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for weekly practical videos all about gardening.