There are many ways to tell whether or not a spaghetti squash is ripe and ready to be harvested and eaten. The easiest way is to check how long the fruit has been on the vine since spaghetti squash ripen after three months. For a more accurate measurement make sure the squash is yellow and not green or orange in color. The stem and vine will also turn grey and wither away as the squash ripens, even if the plant is regularly watered. Finally, you can try to damage the outer skin since a ripe squash will be too hard to scratch or dent with your finger.
What is Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash is without a doubt the most famous of the winter squashes, and an extremely popular ingredient in many different dishes. This article will discuss how to inspect spaghetti squash and see whether or not if it is ripe.
The squash gets its name from the many noodle-like strands that fall off the squash when it is cooked. These strands are similar to spaghetti in both appearance and texture, while having a naturally fantastic taste and a high nutrient content.
This fun appearance makes the spaghetti squash popular with kids, especially if they don’t know what the strands came from, while parents will enjoy the squash’s nutritional value.
Not only is spaghetti squash a wonderful addition to any meal, but it can also be grown at home for easy picking. Spaghetti squash is an excellent addition to just about any home garden, kitchen, or meal.
In order to grow or use spaghetti squash, however, you must have the ability to tell whether the squash is ripe or not.
How to Plant and Grow Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is one of the many vegetables that only fully ripen in winter, such as collards and kale. Vegetables like this spend a lot of time in the spring and summer so they can absorb more sunlight to grow.
When to Plant Spaghetti Squash
Due to their environmental needs it is best to plant spaghetti squash at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. This should be around May or June, depending on how long the growing season in your area is.
Since spaghetti squash can be planted in pots you can begin growing your squash in an indoor greenhouse during colder months then transplant them into an outdoor garden once the weather gets warmer.
If you use this method, transfer them at least two weeks from your last projected frost warning to ensure they survive.
Where to Plant Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash should only be planted an inch deep in soil, with only two seeds per hole. Each hole should be at least four feet apart with space for eight feet of vines since squash plants create massive tangles of vines.
To deal with vines consider using chicken wire or sturdy trellises to support your plants. Each vine will produce around seven fruits so your support structure should be prepared for the weight.
How to Grow Spaghetti Squash
Make sure that you plant spaghetti squash with plenty of compost and avoid fertilizers heavy in nitrogen since that will ruin young squash vines.
Also be sure that your planting area will retain water to help the vines grow. In an outdoor garden this should happen naturally but with pots use a layer of straw, grass clippings, or other dry plant matter at the bottom of the pot.
Once the squash seeds are settled, be sure to water them around 2 inches every week and add fresh compost or fertilizer every month. This will give the vines the water and nutrients they need to thrive.
How to Know if Spaghetti Squash is Ripe
It is important to make sure your spaghetti squash is ripe before you try to harvest it since the squash will not grow after being picked. At the same time if the squash is too ripe it becomes too soft to work with, rendering it useless.
Know When to Harvest
The easiest way to tell if your spaghetti squash is ripe is to know how long it has been growing. Spaghetti squash generally take three months to fully ripen, but depending on when you planted that could mean they are ripe in early fall or mid-winter.
The earlier you plant the sooner your squash will ripen so keep track of how long your squash has been growing and calculate when it should be ripe.
Look at the Color
Fully ripe spaghetti squash has yellow skin ranging from bright and pale to deep and golden. If the squash is still green then it needs more time to grow, but if it starts to turn orange the squash is over ripe.
Spaghetti squash also grow duller the riper they get so if your squash looks shiny then you may want to wait a bit longer before picking them.
Test the Skin
If a spaghetti squash is ripe its outer skin will become tough, so you can test how ripe a squash is by trying to puncture it with a fingernail. If you can press your nail into the skin, the squash is not ripe.
You can also try pressing your finger into the squash to see if the skin is firm. If your finger leaves an indent or punctures the squash then it is overripe.
Another way to check the ripeness of your squash is to see if there are any marks or bruises on the squash. Damaged skin is a sign of over ripeness and can be indicate if a squash is healthy or not.
Check Vines and Stems
A ripe spaghetti squash will have extremely withered vines, even if they are regularly watered, since the fruit is not taking any more water or nutrients. The stem will also dry out and turn grey as the squash ripens.
How to Harvest your Spaghetti Squash
Once you’ve confirmed that your squash are ripe harvest them as soon as possible to prevent over-ripening.
Take a sharp knife or garden shears as well as some gloves to protect your hands from the prickly vines. Be sure to leave around two inches of stem on top of the squash to protect against bacteria and keep your squash fresh.
How to Store your Spaghetti Squash
After harvesting your squash be sure to store them in a cold, dark, dry area such as in a basement or pantry and make sure there is some space between each squash. Stored properly, spaghetti squash can last for over three months.
Please note that if you store your spaghetti squash in the fridge, it will only last two weeks at most before becoming unusable.
If you plan on growing or even buying spaghetti squash it is important to understand how to tell if a squash is ripe. Unless a squash is in the prime of ripeness it is basically useless so check your squash carefully before, during, and after harvesting.