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My family recently added butternut to the selection of fruit and vegetable plants in the garden. The plants are in a reasonably sized pot, growing onto concrete at one side and an earth/stubbly grass plot on the other.

Our particular experience that may be relevant is with potato and pumpkin, both from pots/bags and from beds/plots.

As I have not previously bought or prepared butternut and given the varieties that may affect what "looks like" a suitable fruit, how can I determine which fruit is ready to be picked, brought in, stored and possibly eaten?

In particular, what can a gardener of low experience check, for example from the size and colour of the fruit, any physical properties (e.g. tapping sounds), and the behaviour of the vines or plants?

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If your butternut is the size you would purchase at the store, it is ready to pluck. The biggest concern is your weather. If it freezes, all the leaves of the squash die, you should definitely get the gourd off the vine before another freeze. These gourds last for 3 or 4 months!

if you know that you are getting another month of growing weather, leave the gourd until you want to make a butternut squash soup from a freshly picked butternut squash. You just don't want that gourd to freeze.

Is your gourd at least 4 or 6" long? 3 to 4" wide? Definitely ready to use or store. Do you have a 'potato cellar'?

If your gourd is large enough to be sold in your produce section...it is ready to be cooked, baked. Yummm. It lasts for months like I said to harvest a perfect gourd just before baking or cooking? Is heaven.

Send a picture with a quarter or something for scale.

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  • Freezing is absolutely not a concern, even if it wasn't summer. As mentioned, I've never bought butternut, so I have no idea what size should be considered in that respect, but the largest fruit is around 14cm long by 7-8cm diameter. Does the variety potentially change expected size of ripe fruit?
    – Nij
    Jan 7 '18 at 6:08
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    gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/squash/… Just ran into this article and I think this should answer most of your questions, in more detail than I gave. I don't think that varieties of this squash are very different from one another. I really get angry with myself that I am so lame with metric. Sorry. Normal size for these are 8 inches long and at the widest 4 inches. They could be bigger but not much smaller to be edible. Anything less than 6" by 3" I wouldn't harvest unless I had to. This article had great info.
    – stormy
    Jan 7 '18 at 7:02

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