Winter Harvest: Squash

Well, we know that winter squash is grown during the summer, but ‘tis the season to harvest! Squash is easy to grow and harvest, and will taste amazing in autumn soups and pies. There is no need for canning or freezing, they store great in a dark, cool place. A ripe squash should be heavy, firm, and be without big blemishes. Our Rapid City greenhouse gives you some great winter harvest tips!

When to Harvest

It depends on when you planted the seeds. Usually it will be labeled on the seed packets. Winter squash is usually harvested around October – November, when the rind is hard and deepen I color. Some types of squash, such as kabochas and hubbards, have stems that will turn corky when they are ripe.


After harvesting the squashes, put them in a warm place to cure for a week in order to dry the stems and seal the skins properly. After that, you should put them in a cool, dark place for storage. Squash like to be stored in a temperature of about 50 to 65 degrees F. For better taste, hold off on sampling the squash for about 3 weeks in order for the sugars to develop. In a dark place with the appropriate temperature, the squash will last through winter. If you would like to freeze your squash, you can cook them as you normally would and then mash them before putting them into freezer containers.

What to Cook?

There are endless of varieties of food you can make with your winter squash, but here is a favorite of ours:

Winter Stew

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 4 cups

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion or large shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 pound meat, beef, pork, lamb, chicken thighs (not breasts, too dry), elk or venison, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Marsala wine (or dry sherry, red or white wine, or fruit juice)
  • 1 pound vegetables (see TIPS)
  • 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes or dried apricots, golden raisins
  • 1 – 2 cups broth or water (just enough to cover)

Heat oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and herbs; cook until onions begin to brown. Add meat and let brown, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes; midway, sprinkle with flour and salt, stir in and continue cooking. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cover and cook for an hour or until meat and vegetables are cooked. Serve over noodles, brown rice, wild rice, mashed potatoes or hominy.

And Then What?

Composting, of course! Throw your vines in the compost after you picked all the squashes off or if they die from frost.

We are a Rapid City nursery that provides helpful information to both green thumbs and beginning gardeners about horticulture in the Black Hills and surrounding areas. Our garden supply center houses a variety of plant selections, including shrubs, annuals, perennials, and herbs, as well as garden décor.

At Jolly Lane Greenhouse, you’ll find your senses stimulated by an extensive assortment of seasonal plants, shrubs, and trees from our garden supply center. We have a variety of fragrant and brightly-colored foliage, bushes, evergreens, perennials, vines, ornamental grasses, and rose bushes—there’s something for every season! Come see us today!