Winter Squash Not Storing Well – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

I’m a little disappointed in my winter squash harvest this season. I usually feel a sense of pride and joy admiring them all lined up on my kitchen windowsill, but this season is different – they are already beginning to rot. I lost most of my Sweet Dumpling squashes, and now the Uchiki Kuri are turning bad as well.

If this is something you’ve encountered as well, then here are my thoughts around why they’re not doing so well.

Fruits not ripened enough

If the fruits are not fully ripened, they simply won’t store as well. This isn’t the case with my squashes this year, as they were well ripened when I harvested them, but it may be that for some the simple fact of the fruits not having enough time to harden their skin will lead them to start rotting quite quickly after picking.

Bruised or damaged fruits

Any damage to the squash will be a tender spot that is more inclined to rotting. Some of mine had a couple of nibbles from mice or rats (the Sweet Dumpling) and a little slug damage. Where this was the situation, while the squashes were still on the plant, I saw flies and insects moving into the damaged areas – I harvested those that I could, but they soon started to deteriorate in the tender spots. I cut off the affected parts and roasted them up to make soup for the freezer, so all is not lost!

Equally, any bruising (perhaps they got knocked around a bit after harvesting) can be a tender spot that will rot quickly.

Fruits sitting on soggy soil

If the squashes are sat on moist soil they will be prone to rotting in that area. Also, if the plants are sitting in a single position like this, on damp soil in particular, then that part of the fruit is not exposed to sunshine and warmth and so remains underripe (and hence rots more easily). This has been the case for my crop this year – I normally tend to the squash patch, but my attention was elsewhere this summer and I didn’t lift and move the vines as I normally do to make sure that the fruits ripen on all sides or to carefully move them so that the fruits sit on a drier surface.