Posts Tagged ‘plant squash’
I laid out seeds, envelopes, and envelope labels on a table in my billiards room. While I’m giving away Blue Hubbard squash, neck pumpkin, and paste tomato seeds, I also collected seeds from butternut squash, dill weed, and several types of peppers. Most of these will go to The Dinner Garden, a charity that provides seeds to family’s starting gardens in response to economic difficulties.
Two weeks ago, Your Small Kitchen Garden offered up sets of seeds to visitors who asked for them. I’ve been pleased by the response; more than 40 people have left comments requesting seed sets. A complete set includes six seeds of Blue Hubbard squash, six seeds of neck pumpkin, and twenty seeds of chili-pepper-shaped paste tomatoes.
In that post I joked that I’d judge comments on creativity and humor, and I’ve enjoyed the humor in some of the comments. However, the only criteria for receiving seeds are:
- Leave a comment explaining which seeds you most want to grow
- Complete a “Contact Us” form with your mailing address
- Do these things before the seeds run out.
The Small Kitchen Garden Seed Project
I’ve been packaging seeds. To do this, I set up a small table in the corner of my billiards room and laid out all the seeds I saved last season. I designed and printed simple labels and stuck them on coin envelopes. As I started to count out seeds and package them it occurred to me: what if the seeds aren’t viable? I’d feel rotten to learn I’d sent seeds to so many people, and none of those seeds sprouted.
More than a week after planting, one of the three tomato seeds I planted to test viabiity sprouted. By the time I finished this post nearly 2 days later, all three seeds had sprouted. I’m mailing out more than 40 packs of these seeds in the coming week. If you left a comment on my post Free Seeds from Your Small Kitchen Garden, did you also send your mailing address to me via the web site’s Contact Us form? I noticed many visitors overlooked that important step.
So, I test-planted some tomato seeds and waited. Last March, when I started tomato seeds indoors, I had sprouts two days after planting! This January, there were no sprouts for over a week. Finally, on Monday, the first tomato seed sprouted. On Tuesday, two more sprouts appeared. These seeds are viable!
As the cutoff date for my seed giveaway approaches, I’ve packaged up several dozen sets of seeds. I’ve more to package, and I haven’t yet addressed all the envelopes, but I’m confident these seeds will perform when treated properly.
I’m excited to share the seeds; I hope that many of the people who receive them will write once or twice to tell me how their seeds do, and to tell me what they think of the produce they grow.
In the meantime, I’ve already started this year’s small kitchen garden; I’m going to try to keep my tomato seedlings alive indoors until April. I’ll build a tent around them to trap in some moisture and heat, and I’ll flood the tent with light. If things go well, I’ll transplant into larger containers once or twice, so I’ll have very large plants when it’s time to move them outdoors.
By “potting up” the plants this way, I may get a 30-day or better jump on the tomato-growing season. Who knows? Maybe I’ll harvest a few tomatoes in early July this year.
The Blue Hubbard squash I bought was 24 inches long and it weighed 27 pounds; 7 pounds more than the neck pumpkin it rests on in this photo… and, perhaps, 20 times the weight of the butternut squash from my own garden.
Some months ago I got all excited about winter squash and lamented that the only squash in my small kitchen garden this year was butternut. I bought a huge neck pumpkin at the farmers’ market, and a week later I bought a Blue Hubbard squash as the weekend flea market.
I canned the neck pumpkin in my pressure canner, and presented a two-part written documentary: Exploring Neck Pumpkin at Your Small Kitchen Garden and Can Squash or Pumpkin from Your Home Kitchen Garden. Then I promised readers a look at this amazing Blue Hubbard squash.
It’s been a long time coming, but here’s how I preserved the Blue Hubbard. This method is simple and valid for any winter squash you plan to use in pie fillings. If you want to freeze squash for later use mashed or in casseroles, leave it out of the blender; scoop the cooked squash directly into freezer containers.
I started by cutting off the rotten end of the squash. I removed about a half-inch margin of healthy-looking skin in case the rot had progressed farther through the flesh than what showed on the surface.
The Blue Hubbard Squash Review
I bought my 27 pound pod-people squash for $1.50. This resulted from a 25% discount offered when the seller discovered one end of the squash had started to rot. I had heard that Blue Hubbard is great for pies… but that seems to go for every winter squash I haven’t tried.
While the photographs and their captions tell the story of how to prepare squash for freezing, I didn’t freeze all of the Blue Hubbard. After cooking it, I scooped a sample to taste and was quite pleased. My Blue Hubbard was sweet and very flavorful; it has a much “squashier” flavor than the neck pumpkin. You could serve Blue Hubbard in place of butternut, and few people would notice.
The cut squash was gorgeous. I love the rich pastel orange that fades into pastel green near the rind. When I pressed on the flesh, it gave easily and fluid squirted from it, indicating rot. When I removed another inch of material, the flesh was firm.
I cut the remaining healthy Blue Hubbard squash lengthwise into thirds and picked out all the seeds to plant next year (I hope to give some away or swap with some of my readers). Then I used a spoon to scrape the stringy guts away from the flesh. I’ve no doubt you can eat this stuff, but I’ve never read anything encouraging me to do so.
I had to cut the sections of squash into smaller pieces to get them to fit into one of my largest cook pots. I stood the pieces on edge, and arranged them with air spaces between them. Then I added a few inches of water and covered the pot. It took about 45 minutes for the flesh to become soft all the way through on every piece. I used tongs to remove the squash from the pot, and then I scraped the cooked flesh away from the rind. Even cooked, the subtle pastel colors show in the squash on the spoon in the right-most photo.
Each scoop of cooked squash went into my blender (place the scoops directly into freezer containers if you intend to serve the squash as a vegetable… pureed squash is best for use in baking and soup bases). There was so much squash that I had to run the blender several times. I used the puree setting and made sure there were no chunks remaining in any load. Once I’d filled my largest bowl with pureed squash, I distributed the puree into freezer bags in 16 ounce batches; one bag is the appropriate amount for making a pumpkin pie. I wrote the date on each bag and set them all in the freezer… I’ll be able to make pumpkin pie, bread, cake, soup, and ravioli throughout the year.
There’s my big boy neck pumpkin on my large cutting board next to my biggest chef’s knife in front of my KitchenAid stand mixer. (Trying to provide a sense of scale.)
While my small kitchen garden lies dormant for the coming winter, I’ve been exploring winter squash. Always a fan of butternut squash, I planted several hills of it this year, and harvested about 25 pounds of fruits. Some were as small as grapefruits while others were about as large as quart jars. For my family, a one-quart butternut squash lasts for two or three meals.
I visit a farmers’ market nearly every Wednesday, and flea market produce vendors on most Sundays. Every autumn, I see a delightful variety of winter squashes. However, happy with my homegrown butternuts, I’ve never explored these others. Until this year.
In my last post, I described a Blue Hubbard squash, the full 27 pounds of which I purchased for $1.50. That post included a photo of a neck pumpkin that weighed in at a hefty 20 pounds. After two weeks of delays, I finally dissected the neck pumpkin. This is one very impressive squash!
I washed the neck pumpkin thoroughly before I started carving so as not to contaminate the squash’s innards with soil that might have remained from the farm where it grew. I cut sections starting at the neck end, and finally cut the bulbous seed chamber in two. A neck pumpkin is almost solid meat.
Gourds from the Amish
The neck pumpkin goes by many names, among them Pennsylvania Crookneck Squash (according to Cornell University’s web site). They are very common in central Pennsylvania—Amish country—and apparently not so common outside of this area.
Neck pumpkins I’ve seen have been as small as a large butternut squash, and even larger than the 20 pound fruit I bought at the farmers’ market three weeks ago.
I understand that neck pumpkin is ideal for making pumpkin pie. Given its resemblance to butternut squash, I imagined it might also be fine for eating as a side dish… and for cooking up in baked goods and other foods that call for pumpkin as an ingredient.
A simple vegetable peeler easily removes the skin from the neck pumpkin. Of course, such a peeler has trouble on very large expanses of skin; curves of the pumpkin interfere with the ends of the peeler. Cutting the neck pumpkin into small sections would reduce the problems of paring it. With the skin removed, I used my largest chef’s knife to cut the sections into one-inch cubes.
Neck Pumpkin Preparation
The photos in this blog post reveal the steps I took to prepare my neck pumpkin for consumption. Actually, I cooked only a half cup of the squash so I could taste it… the rest I canned in quart jars. The canning operation itself, I explain in my other blog, Your Home Kitchen Garden.
Preparing and storing winter squash offers many options: you can steam, boil, bake, roast, and even dry squash. Use a crock pot, a microwave oven, a stove pot, a conventional oven, a grill… it doesn’t matter. However you cook squash, it gets soft and mashable. For a chunkier side dish, peel and cube it before cooking. To save effort, leave the skin on until after cooking… but by the time you scrape the squash out of its skin, you’re likely to have mashed it up quite a bit.
As with cleaning a pumpkin that I’m about to carve into a jack-o-lantern, I used a spoon to scrape the seeds and their anchoring fibers from the squash’s seed cavity. I set the seeds aside to dry; I’ll be growing neck pumpkins from them in my small kitchen garden next year.
For canning, you create one-inch cubes of raw squash which you blanch for only a few minutes before putting them in jars and cooking in a pressure canner. You can use freshly cubed squash in any squash dish… cook peeled and cubed squash any way you want. Most simply, cover some with water in a pot and cook until soft. Pour off the water, mash the squash with a potato masher, and stir in butter and brown sugar to taste.
If you want to can some squash, please enjoy my squash dissection photos, and then head over to Your Home Kitchen Garden for a step-by-step canning review. This one, 20 pound neck pumpkin filled seven quart jars and left about two cups of pumpkin cubes that I used to make bread.
More about neck pumpkins and som excellent ways to use them:
Brown Long Neck « Wood Ridge – Country living in the northern … – October 25, 2009. Another heirloom: the Brown Long Neck pumpkin. This crook-neck pumpkin makes an excellent pumpkin bread or pie. The Brown Long Neck is the pumpkin used by our regional Amish for their markets’ baked goods. LongNeck …
Neck Pumpkins, White Greasy Beans, and Blue-Podded Peas « Digging RI – Another of this year’s experiments is Neck Pumpkin. You have to see this baby to believe it… Looks like a butternut squash on steroids, doesn’t it? I got this seed from the very nice, very generous Daniel Gasteiger, …
One last taste of winter squash | Front Porch Farm – That spring sunshine has been tantalizing me with its promises of warmth. I’ve been digging in the flower beds, poking in my herb garden. But come.
Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Ginger | Andrea Meyers – I’ve been roasting squash all during the month of November, and every time I use up all the squash in my kitchen, more seems to magically appear. Well,
butternut ravioli – as you know, i have, over the last few months, lost my taste for food. i’m sure for many pregnant women, those who dread cooking or find it difficult, this would not be the end of the world. but, i have to tell you, for a girl who loves …
I love to grow winter squash in my small kitchen garden… even though squash plants cannot in any way qualify as small-garden-appropriate. Still, when I plan a progression from spring crops to summer crops, I make sure there’s a place where butternut squash plants will be able to stretch out in July and August.
Poor Squash Production
The first season I grew butternut squash was very disappointing. The seeds sprouted quickly, and vines grew aggressively. It was a bit of a rush when squash flowers popped open; and very entertaining to see new flowers open almost every day. When female flowers opened, I was particularly jazzed: these were young squash fruits that would grow large and provide food later in the year!
My first year growing winter squash, I saw blossom after blossom wither and die, dashing my hopes of getting a decent harvest.
No dice. Those female flowers would blossom and fade in a day, and two or three days later the fruits from which they’d emerged would turn brown, wither, and drop off the plants.
Occasionally, a squash fruit would set: the flower would dry up and fall off as the squash itself plumped up. While this was very satisfying, harvesting only a squash or two per plant seemed hardly worth the garden space.
Since then, I’ve heard this story told by many beginning gardeners—and even by experienced gardeners—who were puzzled by poor production from their winter squash plants.
More Squash per Plant
One summer, as the squash plants started flowering, it occurred to me that, perhaps, a squash fruit that isn’t pollinated isn’t viable. Honestly, I don’t know whether this is true, but the thought led me to a new garden task: I now hand-pollinate all my female squash flowers. Since I started doing this, I’m almost certain that every squash flower I’ve pollinated has grown into a harvestable squash fruit. Now in a typical season I harvest at least five decent squash fruits per plant, and sometimes as many as seven or eight.
A male squash flower (left) stands atop a stalk that stretches toward the canopy of leaves. A female flower (right) lies low under the canopy and grows from the end of a miniature squash fruit.
Life of a Squash Plant
A squash plant may seem to develop slowly, producing small leaves on skinny vines. After a few weeks, however, the plant starts to overwhelm its area in the garden. Large leaves rise 18 inches above the garden bed as the vines thicken and send out branches.
Soon, squash blossoms peak out from under the canopy of leaves… they don’t necessarily rise above the canopy, but their unmistakable orange flashes in the morning sun.
The earliest squash blossoms are males; they can’t produce fruit. These usually sit on stalks that grow straight up from the horizontal vines.
You can pollinate a female flower using a male flower from the same plant, but I like to find a male flower from a different plant. I snap the stalk that holds the flower (they are brittle and break off easily), then I peel the petals away much as you’d peel a banana (center). I end up with a stamen at the end of a handle (right).
To pollinate squash, I simply use the doctored male flower as a paintbrush: I hold the stem and brush the stamen around on the pistil of the female flower. A squash fruit grows very quickly after pollination. If the plant gets enough water (and if the days are hot), a fruit can reach full-size in seven-to-ten days… though it might take several more weeks to ripen fully.
A squash bud blossoms in the morning, glows orange until midday, and starts to fade in the afternoon. By nightfall, the blossom is droopy, at best, and the flower is useless by the next day… but another set of blossoms opens on that morning.
You might see such blooms for a week or two before the first female blossoms mature. A female blossom grows in the direction of the stem that holds it. There is a tiny squash behind the flower, and the flower itself may actually lie on the ground when it opens. While male blossoms congregate near the original roots of the plant, female blossoms grow near the ends of the vines… but I’ve never seen a female blossom open when there were no male blossoms open as well.
Caution! Bees seem to think squash flowers are what it’s about. On a good day, the squash bed is abuzz with dozens of bees. In my experience, they pay no attention to me as I wade through the sea of squash leaves. They are so single-minded, I’ve actually had bees land on the male flowers whose petals I was stripping. Despite heavy bee activity, I still hand-pollinate. I try to avoid arguments with the bees, and I’ve never been stung in my squash patch.
Squash Plant Maintenance
As a vine, a winter squash plant sends out tendrils that can wrap around anchors to support the vine. This being the case, some gardeners train their squash plants up and away from the soil. One great advantage of this is that the fruits develop off the ground where they are less likely to succumb to insects and rot caused by moisture.
But I wonder whether training squash vines off the ground cheats the grower out of a few pounds of squash per plant. You see, squash vines branch, and the branches are thinner and flimsier than the main vine. Still, those flimsy branches can grow quite long and they can produce fruiting flowers. No problem so far.
In my experience, the fruiting flowers of slender squash branches are smaller than those of the main vine. Many fail to blossom; they simply shrivel and drop off the plant. I’m about to offer a guess about squash culture, but first: one more fact about how squash plants grow:
Squash vines aggressively seek supplemental sources of water. At each node where a leaf grows from the vine, the plant wants to drop roots into the ground. If the vine lies on your garden’s soil, the plant will re-root itself in dozens of places. I must believe (without knowing for sure) that these roots support the plant’s growth.
Here’s that guess I warned about: A squash vine that can’t drop supplemental roots into the soil will produce the flimsiest of branches and, probably, less fruit than a vine that re-roots itself all over your garden bed. Believing this, I let my squash plants have plenty of room, and I leave the vines in place so I don’t disturb the roots they inevitably produce.
Squash vines produce tendrils (left) that are capable of supporting the plants off of the ground. However, if a node where a leaf stalk emerges from the vine rests on damp soil, the vine drops roots there. For the sake of this discussion, I lifted a vine (right) and its newly-forming roots came out of the soil.
Now I’ll contradict myself: Two or three squash plants growing from a common point can intertwine and become very inaccessible. The main vines and their branches criss-cross and overlap while the canopy of large leaves blocks your view of the vines. As fruit sets and enlarges, you’ll see many flimsy branches grow from the main vine, and it will be obvious that most branches won’t produce fruit.
When my squash patch becomes particularly overgrown, I remove many of those useless vine branches; I use a paring knife and cut them off close to the main vine. Again, I don’t know for sure, but my plant sense tells me that the vines and growing squash fruits that remain benefit when the plant isn’t trying to grow so many new branches.
When Squash are Ripe
It’s a little early to be concerned about harvesting winter squash. But if squash fruits ripen, cut them off the vines and take them inside… there’s no sense leaving them in the garden where they can fall victim to insects and other inconveniences. If your plants are still setting fruit… or they haven’t yet started, you may face decisions about when to harvest. I wrote a post last autumn about harvesting and storing winter squash. I hope you find it useful: Harvest Squash from your Small Kitchen Garden.
Here are some links to articles about diseases that can damage your squash plants… and to a few discussions about cooking winter squash:
Downy Mildew Alert « Weekly Crop Update – edu and Kate Everts, Vegetable Pathologist, University of Delaware and University of Maryland ; keverts@umd. Downy mildew was observed on cucumber in our sentinel plots on Wednesday, July 9 near Georgetown, DE by Emmalea Ernest. She found several small spots on 3-4 leaves on the susceptible slicing variety Straight Eight’.
pumpkin plants turn ugly in just a few days – jerry brust, ipm vegetable specialist, university of maryland; email@example.com. last thursday, august 6, my pumpkin plants looked great with large green leaves and just a little powdery mildew (fig. 1). just a few days later and they …
having my way with winter squash « Culinaria Eugenius – Although I must say that I recently devoured a maple cream puree made with the grey squash above, I prefer winter squash dishes that don’t add extra sugar. The marshmallow yam Thanksgiving casserole? *shudder* …
Five Ways to Eat Winter Squash – I love this Moosewood Cookbook recipe, which mixes kale and chunks of winter squash into a basic white-wine risotto. It’s easier than I expected—although you do have to be vigilant about stirring!—and it’s a very healthy dish, …
Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons – Bon Appétit | December 1996. In France, this soup would be prepared with a baking pumpkin. A mixture of butternut and acorn squashes mimics the French pumpkin’s exceptional taste and texture. Pour a lightly chilled rosé with this …
My small kitchen garden is still fully abloom, which portends great things to come. The blossoms also provide fodder for me to participate in another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Bloom Day wherein she encourages garden bloggers everywhere to photograph their blossoms, post them on their blogs, and then add a link to the Bloom Day list.
My small kitchen garden this month has blossoms that are quite similar to last month’s blossoms. Still, there are a few changes, and all-new photos. I don’t really grow flowers, but if I don’t get any in my garden, I won’t get any vegetables and fruits either… and that would make me very sad. Please have a look and see what the future holds for my small kitchen garden.
Cilantro flowers abound in my garden. My cilantro patch is very mature, and blossoms are giving way to coriander. These cilantro flower clouds—volunteers that planted themselves last fall—float among my tomato plants. Similar volunteers are making coriander throughout my planting bed.
My oregano monster is in full-bloom: dozens of stalks of flowers stand above the foliage. My oregano is spreading; trying to consume the planting bed. So, a few days ago I trimmed back the edges of the monster. I’ll dig out a lot of oregano roots when my annuals die back in the fall.
My pepper plants this season have messed with me. Peppers I potted in gallon jugs grow side-by-side with peppers I potted in a handrail planter. The gallon juggers matured and produced fruit while the handrailers turned into bonsai pepper plants. About a month ago, I shuffled plants out of the handrail planter into an in-ground planting bed… but I left some plants in the planter. Now all are growing as though they mean it. So, August has brought a new round of pepper flowers, and I’m eager to harvest peppers in September. Most, I suspect, will end up in gumbo.
Oh, beans! I harvested about a gallon of wax beans over the past two days, and there’ll be another half gallon ready tomorrow morning. The climbing beans are still flowering and producing new beans which makes more than a month of production with no end in sight; typically bush beans spew huge amounts of beans very quickly and you need to plant them in stages if you want to harvest through the whole summer. I’ve taken a one-and-done approach with bush wax beans, and they’re flowering madly even as I pluck the gorgeous yellow pods.
I’ve been lucky this year to be in the one 50-mile swath of the United States that hasn’t been too hard on tomatoes. I’ve canned 1 and ½ gallons of tomato sauce, I have about 12 gallons of tomatoes ripening on my dining room table, and my plants are producing about two gallons of tomatoes each day. To keep me on my toes, the tomato plants continue to produce those demure yellow flowers. I suspect that flowers in mid August will not produce ripe tomatoes before the first frost.
Here’s a volunteer I really don’t want in my small kitchen garden… but it’s so pretty. I think thistle plants are quite attractive, and the flowers are gorgeous. Of course, I’ll pull this plant in a day or two and add it to the compost heap. But there it is blooming on Bloom Day.
The big change in my small kitchen garden from mid-July to mid-August is the overwhelming emergence of winter squash. I had set seedlings in the garden on the first weekend of July, and a month later squash plants covered a big chunk of the planting bed. The vines are maxing out. That is, they continue to put out more stem and leaves, but the new stems are very slender, and they don’t seem to support fruiting flowers. New fruiting buds are tiny, and they seem to wither and die even before the flower opens. That’s OK, there must be 15 – to – 20 butternut squash fruits under the leaves. And, despite the lack of viable female flowers, the vines continue to produce daily explosions of bright orange male flowers. I couldn’t choose just one squash flower photo for this blog post, so I’ve included three of my four favorites (the one I didn’t publish was a bit esoteric).
A volunteer tomato plant, self-seeded from last year’s crop, makes a small jungle surrounding a squash blossom in my small kitchen garden.
Few things are better in my small kitchen garden than the time I spend among the squash blossoms in August.
Thanks so much for visiting!
Summer seems to be ending abruptly in my small kitchen garden; I hope that’s not the case for yours. Goodness, when autumn was two days away, the temperature dropped to 37 degrees F (3 degrees C) overnight! There are many clear days forecast, so I expect frost might come early this season.
My home kitchen garden contains no squash this year, but in considering major end-of-season topics, gourds keep coming to mind. By gourds, I mean all the pumpkin-like fruits: winter squashes (acorn, butternut, and the like), pumpkins, and decorative gourds. I’m hearing concern about the shortening season and what to do with under-ripe fruits that are still on the vine. Can you get them to grow larger? Is there anything useful to do with green squash?
Is your squash harvest growing?
In my experience, gourds (like nearly all small kitchen garden plants) simply slow down as the days get short and the nights get cool. I’ve had squash and pumpkins of various stages of being ripe on the vine in mid-September, wishing they were larger and riper. Being obsessive, I’d check each day, hoping to see change, but whatever change might have been was imperceptible.
Of course, if there is water in the soil, and the plant’s leaves are green, then the plant is still packing food into its fruit. So, it’s sensible to leave younger squash and pumpkins on the vines as late in the season as possible. However, late in the season, the rules about gardening change.
When it’s cold in your small kitchen garden
Squash and pumpkins don’t mind a little frost, but you’re taking a chance in the event the frost comes from sustained sub-freezing temperature. When squash or pumpkin flesh freezes, it becomes mushy and won’t last very long—if you were planning to eat it, do so that day… but it isn’t real appetizing to feel a mushy spot on a squash and have it ooze fluid on your hands.
Even when frost isn’t pending, cold nights and warm days lead to uneven ripening: a pumpkin that’s green in mid-September will likely ripen faster on one side than on the other (the lower hemisphere of the pumpkin stays warmer at night, and so continues to ripen while the upper hemisphere cools down and waits until morning).
If it isn’t real cold, but there’s suddenly a lot of rain at the end of a dry summer, the squash can take it in quickly, and it may split. You need to consume split squash quickly, or preserve it so it doesn’t rot.
Finally, even as autumn is upon us, the squash bug population in your small kitchen garden is peaking; leaving your produce exposed to pests for a few more days—or even weeks—provides no significant advantage.
So, Harvest Squash Early
Sure, the conventional wisdom is to leave the fruits on the vines until the vines die. But, when frost is a near-certainty, harvest squash, pumpkins, and gourds. Even harvest the green ones along with the ripe ones! Cut the stems off the vines one-to-three inches from the fruit, clean off any soil, and take them all inside. Stack them out-of-the-way (I put mine in the corner of the dining room… there are still three there from autumn of 2007), and check on them from time-to-time. Consume the ripe ones, and wait for the others to ripen; they will… even rather small ones will.
These gourds have hidden in my dining room for almost exactly a year. They’re in surprisingly good shape, though obviously starting to fade.
Squash and pumpkins store amazingly well. I’ve kept butternut squash in my dining room for six months and found it firm and useable. As the squash ages, it loses moisture, and the meat gradually separates into strands… but if it doesn’t develop an off odor, you can still cook it up without fear.
Ideally, once your squash are ripe, store them in a cool, dry room… around 50 degrees F. Don’t lean them against each other, as one spoiling squash could hasten the spoiling of other squash it touches. If you don’t trust squash to hold through the winter, you can cut it into chunks, blanch it, and freeze it… or cook it down and freeze it. Alternatively, squash dries nicely, so you could cut it into chunks or strips and set them in a dehydrator… or even dry them in your oven on very low heat (three-quarter inch slices will dry in ten-to-twelve hours in a 150 degree oven—place them on an oiled baking sheet, and let them cook until they’re dry).