Tips & Tricks

Summer Squash vs Winter Squash, what's the difference?

“Winter Squash” vs “Summer Squash” - What is the difference? 

Wait a minute, winter squash doesn’t grow in the winter? Why is it called, “winter squash,” and why are fall and winter recipes packed full of winter squash?  

Winter squash are slow growing, and are harvested in the late summer through the fall. They have a thicker skin that toughens into a rind that allows for the squash to be stored and enjoyed through the winter. Most of the common winter squash varieties found in home gardens are vining plants which work great if you are trying to maximize space in your garden! 

Vining plants expand in one direction when they grow and can be directed to grow away from other plants while bush plants expand equally in all directions and take up more space.

Summer squash are quick-growing (and typically prolific) producers of soft fruit (yes, squash are fruit). The most common summer squash that are found in home gardens are bushing plants.

How to select the squash that is best for you: 

If you are limited on space we would suggest planting one summer squash paired with one winter squash so that you are getting the most out of your garden. For those of you with more space, we would still suggest one summer squash plant and two winter squashes (and more if you've got a lot of space!). Winter squash are delicious but very slow-growing, so to get the most out of your garden we would suggest having one summer squash plant allowing you to harvest while waiting for the winter squash to mature. 

Here are some of our favorite squash plants: 

WINTER SQUASH 

Butternut 

Harvest: 110-120 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Slow

Flavor: A smooth nutty flavor that sweetens when cooked.


Did you know that butternut squash is incredibly good for you? One cup of baked butternut squash is rich in vitamins A (from beta carotene), B6, C, and E, as well as magnesium, potassium, and manganese!

Delicata

Harvest: 80-100 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Medium-Slow

Flavor: Delicata is commonly compared to a sweet potato.

The delicata squash skin is tender and edible, which makes it quite different than most winter squash. It can be stored for an extended period of time, but not as long as the traditional tough-skinned winter squash. 

Spaghetti Squash

Harvest: 90-100 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Slow

Flavor: Don’t let the name fool you, even though the squash resembles spaghetti noodles when it has been cut in half and baked, it does not taste like a pasta. It has its own unique, light-nutty flavor.  

Most recipes pair spaghetti squash with red sauce. Try it with a garlic or cream-based sauce as well!


SUMMER SQUASH 

Zucchini

Harvest: 45-55 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick

Flavor: Mild and sweet in flavor, this fruit is great at absorbing the flavor it is being paired or seasoned with. Zucchini is wonderful eaten raw, or cooked. 

Zucchini is a heavy-yielding plant that typically needs to be harvested a few times a week during peak season. Harvest the squash when the fruit is 6-8”, to prevent it from becoming woody. 

Golden Zucchini

Harvest: 45-55 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick

Flavor: Similar in flavor as a classic zucchini, but with a burst of color to lighten up your meal!

Squash blossoms are delicious, and a zucchini plant is the perfect plant to harvest from! Zucchini are prolific growers, so set aside a few flowers to enjoy.

Don’t be alarmed if your golden zucchini leaves are slightly yellow in color, this is normal. 

Zephyr Yellow Summer Squash

Harvest: 50-60 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick 

Flavor: Similar in flavor to your familiar green zucchini with a slightly buttery texture and notes. 

This squash is sure to pop in your summer garden. It's unique coloring will set it apart from your other squash, as it is two-toned. The top 3/4 are yellow and the bottom is a pale green. 

Pattypan

Harvest: 50-60 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick 

Flavor: Buttery flavor, perfect for eating raw or cooked. If you are feeling fancy, let the pattypan grow large, scoop out the inside and use the squash as a soup bowl! 

Not as common in the United States, the pattypan squash is known globally by many names including: scallop squash, peter pan squash, sunburst squash, granny squash, custard marrow, custard squash, white squash, button squash and scallopini

Crookneck 

Harvest: 55-60 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick

Flavor:  Not to be confused with yellow zucchini, this fruit has a curved neck and a slightly more intense flavor. 

The crookneck squash was a important source of food for the American settlers. The crookneck squash was one-third of the "three sisters" group of plants, that all grew together and supported one another (including corn and beans).

Tromboncino

Harvest: 55-60 days days from transplant

Growing Speed: Quick

Flavor:  Similar in flavor to a classic zucchini

This Italian Heirloom is our personal favorite here at Avalow. It is a vining summer squash. That's right, a vining summer squash. Not only does it produce a ton of delicious squash, but you can trellis it up and away to save space in your garden. Another great perk is that if you leave it on the vine for a bit "too long," it will continue to grow in size but retain it's delicious flavor and texture until it is about 18."  Seeds are found in the bulb-like base of the fruit, so there is plenty to eat without seeds!