Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite types of winter squash to grow, as they are both simple to cultivate and incredibly delicious! Still, if it’s your first time growing these beauties, you might not know what to look for in healthy plant development – and, most importantly, when to harvest spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squashes are highly nutritious, and they’re one of the best gourds to grow for your garden if you love healthy foods!
But – many of my homesteading friends have no clue how or when to harvest spaghetti squash.
In this guide – I aim to clarify when to pick spaghetti squash at the perfect time – so you can plant, grow, and harvest them confidently. Here are some top tips on growing, harvesting, and curing spaghetti squash so you can enjoy these tasty veggies throughout the winter.
- How to Grow Spaghetti Squash
- How to Harvest Spaghetti Squash
- How to Cure Spaghetti Squash and Other Winter Squash
- Frequently Asked Questions About Spaghetti Squash
- Final Thoughts
How to Grow Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is one of the easiest vegetables to grow – and I’m not just saying that.
This variety of winter squash will quickly turn into a jungle of vines, taking over your garden space if you aren’t careful!
So, when growing it, it’s critical to give spaghetti squash the space, water, pruning, and fertilization it needs to ensure that it puts more energy into producing large squash than a huge mass of leaves.
How to Plant Spaghetti Squash
Squash needs warm soil with an average temperature of 25°C (80°F) to germinate, so most gardeners wait until late spring to sow their seeds outdoors. Luckily, these vigorous growers only take seven to fourteen days to sprout.
If starting indoors with a seed packet, sow your spaghetti squash seeds in May and keep your seedlings in a warm spot. A word to the wise, though! It’s important not to start squash too early. They will rapidly outgrow their pots and need transplanting into larger spaces quicker than you think.
Like most gardeners, I always seem short on time, so I opt to directly sow my squash in June so that I don’t have to worry about potting my transplants or the danger of frost.
Squash are large vining plants that will happily tumble out of raised beds and explore your garden pathways – they love to stretch!
So, at minimum, you should plan to give each plant a three-foot radius. Squash love locations with full sun and can be encouraged to climb trellises, making them a tremendously beautiful addition to your garden.
Spaghetti squash demands a long growing season! That's why many gardeners swear by handy peat pots.
Peat pots are excellent for germinating your spaghetti squash indoors while the weather is too chilly outside and you risk overnight frost.
Peat pots can also help germinate other gourds and veggies too! These peat pots are perfect for nurturing all kinds of baby-sprouting seedlings, including cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, peas, and more!
Tips for Fertilizing Spaghetti Squash
Feed, feed, feed! Squash has a reputation for growing on tops of compost piles – for a good reason. They are hungry plants that need lots of nutrition to grow. Before you plant, top-up beds with high-quality compost. During the growing season, you can apply a liquid compost or granular fertilizer to boost growth.
When choosing a fertilizer, opt for one with higher phosphorus levels. Phosphorus encourages flower and fruit production. If you use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, you may find lots of leaf production but fewer squashes!
Watering Spaghetti Squash
Consistent watering is vital – your spaghetti squash gets thirsty! Doubly so if you live in a hot, arid climate.
Whether the plants are tiny seedlings or sprawled wildly across your yard, they will need anywhere between one to two inches of water per week.
Adding straw around the base of the plant will prevent evaporation and can stop the vegetables from resting directly on the soil. Getting your veggies some straw padding as breathing room can prevent fruits from rotting before they reach maturity!
Like all squash family members, these plants are susceptible to powdery mildew. Be proactive and avoid getting the leaves wet when watering. Do your best to always apply water at the base of the plant directly onto the soil.
How to Pollinate Spaghetti Squash
Squash plants will produce male and female flowers. The female flowers are particularly distinctive because they have a swollen base where the squash will form if pollination is successful.
Still, pollination takes luck – for a flower to pollinate, as many as twelve visits from pollinators are required!
As you can imagine, proper pollination does not always occur. If you find a shortage of bees in your garden, you can hand-pollinate your squash! Start by using a paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male flower over to the female flower.
You can attract bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly flowers like borage, calendula, and marigolds.
How to Harvest Spaghetti Squash
It takes spaghetti squashes around 90 to 110 days to reach maturity, so be prepared to wait until early fall to harvest your spaghetti squash. However, if you live in a cold climate, pick your squash before the first winter frost.
You will know your spaghetti squash is ready to harvest when the skin, which starts with a green color, is golden yellow. Also, remember that squash skin hardens as it matures! So, you want squash skin tough enough that you can’t easily puncture it with a fingernail.
One more thing. Look at the vine! There are good odds that by the time the squash is ready to harvest, the vine will have died back as well.
How Do I Know When My Spaghetti Squash Is Ready To Harvest?
My final spaghetti squash harvesting tip is to remember not to wait too long to harvest!
Sometimes, if you wait too long – your spaghetti squash will get too big and too thick, and then the tough skin gets way too hard! I’ve also noticed that gourds get too many seeds as they get too large.
So, remember that size isn’t everything!
You’ll know when your spaghetti squash is ready to harvest by its texture and color. Ripe spaghetti squash has a bright yellow color, and the skin should be hard enough that it’s difficult to sink your fingernails into it.
The mature fruits of spaghetti squash are generally three months old, and it’s common for the vine to die back before the squash is ripe.
After a while, you’ll develop a harvesting schedule that you like. For example, some gardeners harvest their spaghetti squash slightly earlier than others – some later. Find your preference, and then happily harvest your crops at your pleasure.
What Happens If You Pick a Spaghetti Squash Early?
You should avoid harvesting spaghetti squash early, as it is not easy to ripen them off the vine.
If it is necessary to harvest unripe spaghetti squash because the vine has died back too early or a winter frost has arrived, don’t fret! You can still eat the younger squash.
At this point in development, the fruits will be more like summer squash. That means they will have a shorter shelf-life, so eat them shortly after harvest. On the upside, there should be no need to skin the squash or remove the seeds.
How to Pick Spaghetti Squash
Once your spaghetti squash is hard and bright yellow, it’s time to harvest!
To harvest spaghetti squash, use sharp pruning shears to cut the squash from the vine, leaving a few inches of stem attached. The vines get prickly sometimes, so I recommend wearing gardening gloves when handling them!
After harvesting your ripe spaghetti squash, you can either eat it right away or cure it so it lasts all winter long!
How to Cure Spaghetti Squash and Other Winter Squash
Spaghetti squash is also a winter squash. Winter squashes, although it may seem like they grow in winter, actually grow during spring and summer. However, these types of squash get their name because, if you cure them adequately, they will stay fresh and tasty all winter season.
To cure spaghetti squash and other winter squash for storage, place them in a warm, well-ventilated, dry environment for ten to fourteen days. If the weather is warm and dry, you can keep them in a sunny spot.
Airflow is critical for the curing process. If possible, you want air to be able to access all sides of the squash.
When curing, you allow the spaghetti squash’s skin to dry. Therefore, it’s critical to keep the air flowing and place your squash in a spot that is at least 80° F, which is the ideal temperature for curing.
I like to put my squash inside vented plastic produce boxes. Milk crates also work great for this. If you don’t have a vented container like this at home, you can turn your spaghetti squash every couple of days.
I believe in your ability to incorporate spaghetti squash into your fall décor scheme. So have fun, and use your imagination!
After you cure your squash, move them to a cool and dry spot in your home for storage. A well-cured squash can last up to six months.
Read More – 30+ Edible Plants You Can Grow in 5-Gallon Buckets!
Best Spaghetti Squash Recipes for After the Harvest!
How can you best serve and devour your spaghetti squash once you have a basket (or two) topped with delicious spaghetti squashes?
The ripe fruit of this winter squash variety makes a great healthy alternative to pasta dishes with a pat of butter or a tablespoon of olive oil, but there are plenty of other ways to use it, too.
We put together a massive list of the best spaghetti squash recipes we could find. We hope you love these recipes – we sure did!
You have to try the super spaghetti squash bites. They look so delicious and are the niftiest way to use your spaghetti squash harvest!
Best Spaghetti Squash Recipes We Could Find:
- Spaghetti Squash Super Bites
- Spaghetti Squash Pasta
- Baked Spaghetti Squash
- Spaghetti Squash with Feta, Basil, Tomato
- Spaghetti Squash Chicken Caprese!
- Spaghetti Squash Salad
- Spaghetti Squash – Instant Pot!
- Spaghetti Squash – Fiesta of Flavors!
- Spaghetti Squash Pesto and Pumpkin Seeds
- Spaghetti Squash with Farmer’s Cheese, Tomatoes, and Basil!
- Spaghetti Squash Tex Mex Casserole
- Spaghetti Squash with Greek Beef Sauce!
I think the list of spaghetti squash recipes above is enough to make your spaghetti squash harvest worthwhile! My mouth is watering as I read these recipes, and I hope they serve you well.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spaghetti Squash
Some of the gardeners with Outdoor Happens have been successfully harvesting spaghetti squash and other winter squash varieties for years!
We’re honored to answer some of the most popular spaghetti squash harvesting and picking questions you may have.
We hope these answers help you!
Spaghetti squash is ready for harvesting when you can’t break the skin easily with your fingernail. At this point, the squash should be a deep yellow. The vine will likely have started to die back at this point.
The month you should harvest your spaghetti squash depends on your local weather and when you plant the squash. The average wait time from seed to fruit is 90 – 110 days, and these squash are usually ripe in the early fall from September or October.
On average, you can get three to five spaghetti squashes per plant. Some gardeners recommend a maximum of five squashes per plant. In this case, they would pick any extra squashes early so that the plant can focus energy on maturing the existing fruits it has.
The size will vary depending on your squash variety, but most varieties will be around eight or nine inches in length before picking. Having that said, size is not a good indicator of when to harvest spaghetti squash. The squash should look deep yellow and you should not be able to pierce the skin with your fingernail.
The vigorous growth of spaghetti squash vines, coupled with their ease of harvesting, makes this type of winter squash a satisfying addition to any backyard garden!
Plus, if you’re anything like me, once you taste your first spaghetti squash lasagna, you’ll salivate at the thought of growing these delicious beauties over and over again!
If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that you give spaghetti squash a try!
Thanks again for reading. You rule!
Also, please let us know if you have any spaghetti squash harvesting tips or spaghetti squash picking strategies that work for you? We love to talk about this type of nerdy gardening stuff with homesteaders from all over the world.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you have a great day!
More on Vegetable Gardening and Harvesting Your Crops
Friday 26th of August 2022
Something ate part of one of my spaghetti squash, it’s still green, cam I cut the chewed part off & use the rest?
Tuesday 30th of August 2022
Hi there Carol! Personally, I use everything from my own garden, whether it's chewed or not. I just cut the damaged part off and use the rest. However, you'll need to be careful with diseases, depending on which animal chewed your squash. I have never worried about this, but I found some information that suggests there may be reason to worry:
Vegetables damage by wildlife: Several foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to produce were thought to be caused by wildlife. More specifically, the poop they leave in the vicinity. If something has nibbled at your lettuce, look around for signs of rabbit pellets or deer poop. If your tomatoes are covered in bird waste, leave it be. Don’t harvest any fruits or vegetables that appear to be contaminated by animal wastes: E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella are two of the bacteria that could be found in them.
This refers mainly to animal waste, but I'm mentioning it in case it refers to bites/saliva also. They also mention that insect damage is fine:
Insect damage, healed cuts, small holes or scars: For the most part, insect damage does not render fruits and vegetables inedible. If slugs take a little chew out of your lettuce or a weevil leaves a small hole in your pepper, cut away the damage and thoroughly inspect what is left. If it all looks good, then feel free to eat the rest.
I'm generally more worried about the chemicals they spray commercial vegetables with than any animal matter that may occur in my garden. But it never hurts to be cautious!