Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite types of winter squash to grow – I love the pasta-like consistency the most! Delicious in a lasagna or boiled and topped with butter and salt, these squashes also tend to be one of the last things to harvest from my garden.
Spaghetti squashes are also 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 in confidence.
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.
Here are some top tips on how to grow, harvest, and cure spaghetti squash, so that you can enjoy these tasty veggies throughout the winter.
Read More – Best 5 Squash Varieties for Home Gardens
How to Plant Spaghetti Squash
Squash needs warm soil (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, sow your spaghetti squash seeds in May. 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 to be short on time, so I always opt to directly sow my squash in June so that I don’t have to worry about potting up my transplants.
Squash are large vining plants that will happily tumble out of raised beds and explore your garden pathways – they love to stretch!
At a minimum, you want to plan on giving 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, zucchinis, pumpkins, peas, and more!
How to Grow 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!
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.
But, 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 also attract more bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly flowers like borage, calendula, and marigolds.
Watering Spaghetti Squash
Consistent watering is vital – your spaghetti squash gets thirsty! Doubly so if you live in a hot, arid climate.
Depending on whether the plants are tiny seedlings or if they’ve 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 members of the squash family, 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.
Read More – What’s the Most Productive Squash Variety for Your Garden Right Now?
How to Harvest Spaghetti Squash
It takes squashes around 90 – 110 days to reach maturity, so be prepared to wait until early fall. If you live in a cold climate, pick your squashes before the frost comes.
You will know your squash is ready to harvest when the skin is a deep yellow. Also – remember that squash skin hardens as it matures! So, you want squash skin tough enough so 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.
To harvest, use sharp pruning shears to cut the stem about three inches from the squash. The vines get prickly sometimes, so I recommend gardening gloves when handling them!
I prefer natural fertilizers - like compost and manure. I feel like cow manure is ideal for vegetable gardens - spaghetti squash and other winter squashes included.
I love Black Kow cow manure because their cow manure is organic! And, they also have excellent reviews.
A 4-pound bag of cow manure is perfect for tilling and working into your small raised garden bed to help refresh the soil and give it a boost!
How to Cure Winter Squash
Spaghetti squash is also a winter squash. Interestingly, winter squash does not get their name from the season they are grown, but rather after curing, they should (hopefully) last throughout the entire winter. (Hence, winter squash!)
To cure your squash, all you need to do is set your squash in a warm, well-ventilated space for ten to fourteen days. If the weather is warm and dry, this process can work outdoors.
If the weather is less desirable, bring them into a warm area of your house. I believe in your ability to incorporate spaghetti squash into your fall décor scheme for fourteen days. Have fun and use your imagination!
Airflow is important. If possible, you want air to be able to access all sides of the squash.
For this reason, 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.
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!
Frequently Asked Questions About Spaghetti Squash
Some of the gardeners with Outdoor Happens have been successfully harvesting squash and other gourds for years!
We’re honored to answer some of the most popular spaghetti squash harvestings and picking questions you may have.
We hope these answers help you!
Read More – Easily Harvest Basil Without Killing the Plant!
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 to the brim with delicious spaghetti squashes?
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 they’re 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.
Also – there’s one more spaghetti squash harvesting tip I should share before concluding this harvesting guide.
When to Pick Spaghetti Squash? My Final Tip!
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, too thick, and then the 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! Pay attention to the deep colors of your spaghetti squash – and harvest when the skin begins to harden.
After a while, you’ll develop a harvesting schedule that you like the most. Some gardeners harvest their spaghetti squash slightly earlier than others – some later. Find your best preference, and then happily harvest your crops at your pleasure!
Either way – the vigorous growth of these vines, coupled with their ease of harvesting, makes spaghetti 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.
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 – I hope you have a great day!
Read More – 5 Best Trees With Edible Leaves! Salad Grown at Home!
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!