Winter squash

Winter squash

This is a peek into my little greenhouse this afternoon. I recently harvested all of the winter squash and pumpkins that passed the “fingernail test.” When you can’t press your fingernail through the rind of a winter squash, that means it is mature and ready to be picked.

But you still need to cure them. What’s that, you say? Curing means keeping the squash in the sunlight so their skins will harden a bit more to increase their storage life. If there is a frost in the forecast, it’s best to cover the squash overnight.

Because we have had a bit of rain over the past week, I decided to place them in my greenhouse so they would stay dry and get as much sunlight as possible. Hopefully this was a good idea! I think it has potential. A sunroom would work well, too, if you’re concerned about the weather. No matter how you do it, the curing process takes about 10 days to 2 weeks.

When you’re ready to store them, Edward Smith, author of “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” (Storey Books, 310 pp., $24.95), recommends keeping them “at 50 degrees F. where it is moderately dry (about 60 percent humidity.” He also suggests eating the acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash first, then the butternut and buttercup squash as he says “the flavor of both… improves after a few weeks of storage.”