Please review carefully these 'Eight Ball' squash picked at various times this week.
Now which one was picked at the right time?
Take your time, there are four choices. We'll call the big one "far left", the next one "next to left" the small one "far right" and the one next to it "next to right".
Do you have your answer in mind? Are you sure?
The answer is:
Yes, the smallest one was picked at the correct time, and actually might be a little better if it were just a tiny bit smaller.
So if we all know the smaller one is the best one, why did I let the others grow so big? That's a rhetorical question, so you don't need to answer it. Really. We all know how squash grows. One minute it looks like it is "almost big enough", so we decide to wait to pick it. Then we go back an hour later and it is ginormous and might be best hidden in the compost pile.
In defense of myself and others with overgrown squash, sometimes the garden fairies don't even let us see the squash when it is the right size to pick. They hide it under the leaves until it is huge and then uncover it for the gardener to find. If you are really quiet, you can hear the fairies off hiding in the tomato patch laughing as you spy that big squash and think "how did I miss that one?"
Or occasionally the gardener just gets lazy and doesn't check the squash for a few days. A watched squash never grows, but an unwatched squash grows quickly.
But we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves for letting a few squash get out of hand. "Squash happens", as they say, and it wouldn't be mid-summer without a few ginormous squash sitting on the kitchen counter for the gardener to contemplate on, to size up and ask, "Now how am I going to use that squash?"
Updated later in the day...
Still not convinced that size matters? Here's the biggest and smallest squash cut in half. See how big the seeds are in the big squash.Plus, the center of the big squash is kind of soft and squishy.
Still not convinced?
Look at these seeds in the big one! They are as big as pumpkin seeds!
You wouldn't want to serve that in your favorite summer squash dish, would you? And because 'Eight Ball' is a hybrid variety, these seeds won't produce the same squash next year so you can't use seed saving as an excuse for growing over-sized squash.
Please pick your squash before it gets like this!