Gardening expert reveals fingernail test to ensure ‘perfect’ fall harvest: ‘A dent, but not a cut’

If you’re new to gardening, one hiccup you may face is not knowing when exactly to cut your harvest off the plant. Luckily Jacques (@jacquesinthegarden) has you covered with an Instagram Reel full of tips for how to have a perfect winter squash harvest.

The scoop

With summer ending and fall beginning, gardeners are starting to harvest their winter squash. If you don’t know when exactly your squash is ripe, then just follow Jacques’ simple tricks using his Kabocha squash as an example.

One test is the “fingernail test,” in which you press your nail into the skin of the squash. If your nail only makes “a dent, but not a cut,” your squash is ripe.

If you’re growing your squash on vines on the ground, you can check for a “field spot,” which is a lighter spot that shows up on the area where the squash was resting on the ground. The spot is usually yellow and is a good indicator that your squash is ripe.

If you grow your squash off the ground, you won’t get a field spot, but you can also look at the stem to see if your squash is ready to enjoy. If the stem is starting to scar, wither, and cork, then your squash is ripe.

You can also check ripeness by appearance, as unripe squash tends to be lighter and shinier than ripe squash.

How it’s helping

After all the time, money, and energy you put into your garden, you want to make sure you are getting the best out of it, not letting anything go to waste. With these tips, you can be confident that you’re picking your squash at the right time.

When you harvest squash or any other produce too early, you will notice the flavor may be more bland, and it can even be less nutritional. You don’t want to miss out on all the great flavors and health benefits of fresh produce, so make sure you pick it when it’s ripe.

There are some ways to ripen produce after you’ve harvested it, but it’s best to pick it at just the right time. A little vigilance in your garden around harvest time will make sure you pick your crop not too early and not too late.

What’s everyone saying

The gardeners in Jacques’ comments section loved these tips.

One commenter stated, “Great tips. Answers all my questions I’ve been wondering about!”

All the squash talk made some people hungry, too, with one saying, “now I’m craving kabocha!!”

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