How and When to Pick Summer Squash

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Growing summer squash is one of the many delights of having a vegetable garden. The fresh, buttery taste of squash is hard to beat when you have worked hard to grow your own.

Summer squash is relatively easy to grow and the plants are very prolific – continually producing fruit throughout the season. There are many delicious recipes using squash that are sure to please.

If you are new to growing summer squash you might be a little confused about how and when to pick the fruits.

Here is a simple guide you can follow to know exactly when the squash is ready to harvest, and the easiest way to pick them from the plant.

When to Pick Summer Squash

Knowing when to pick summer squash is not very hard at all. The biggest thing to remember is to pick them early and pick them often.

You want to avoid letting the squash get too large. A large squash can become very seedy and gain a mealy, undesirable taste.

If you pick the squash from the plant as soon as they are ready it will help promote more production from the plant.

Once the squash plant begins blooming you want to keep a watchful eye on them each day to monitor their progress, because squash can grow very quickly. You may spot a small squash one day, and then four or five days later it could be a behemoth!

I have found that the ideal-sized squash for picking is usually about four to eight inches long and about two to three inches in diameter. The actual size of the squash will depending on what variety you are growing.

Early Prolific Straightneck squash are generally shaped like a stretched-out pear, while Crookneck squash look similar but with a bent neck.

Here’s an Early Prolific Straightneck Squash that is ready to be harvested.

An Early Prolific Straightneck Squash Ready to Harvest

Your first impression might be that the squash in the picture above is smaller than you’d expect for harvesting. This squash is about four inches long and almost two inches in diameter – perfect for harvesting!

Once you have identified a summer squash that is ready to pick, now it’s time to properly harvest it from the plant.

How to Pick Summer Squash

The best case scenario is that you want to harvest the squash from the plant without damaging the fruit or the plant. This may sound like a big deal, but it is really very simple.

First, you will want to grab the summer squash at the bulge on the end. Grabbing the squash here gives you the best leverage when removing it from the plant.

Carefully Grab the End of the Summer Squash

Once you have a firm grasp on the squash begin gently lifting it up. You should hear a snap or popping sound.

Gently Lift the Squash to Separate It From the Plant

That is the fruit snapping off from the plant.

The Fruit Should Snap Off the Plant

After you hear the snapping sound, give the squash a quick twist to the left or right, and the squash should be free from the plant.

Congrats! You successfully picked a summer squash!

If you are unsure about removing the squash by hand, you can always use a sharp pair of garden scissors.

Simply clip the squash from the plant about a half-inch from the top of the squash. This is a very easy way to harvest the squash without any chances of damaging the plant. Just make sure you do not accidentally cut into the stem of the plant.

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Comments

  1. Vasco Eugene Barrett says:

    My squash plants always get a fungus of some kink. Any suggestions?

  2. Kandy Mathis says:

    Hi, Tee. Can’t thank you enough for your good advice. [I'm growing my third garden (in my whole life - I'm 50) although I always helped my grandfather in his garden as a teenager during summers.] It seems that, each time I do a search for specific produce help, your website is always there. It is now uploaded in my Favorites so I won’t waste time with searches anymore. Thanks, again, for your help. –Kandy (in Kentucky)

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