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Winter Squash U-Pick Orchards in east-central Iowa in 2024, by county

Below are the U-Pick orchards and farms for winter squash that we know of in this area. Not all areas of any state, nor even every state, have winter squash orchards that are open to the public. If you know of any others, please tell us using the add a farm form!

Remember to always check with the farm's own website or Facebook page before you go - or call or email them if they don't have a website or Facebook page. Conditions at the farms and crops can change literally overnight, so if you want to avoid a wasted trip out there - check with the farm directly before you go! If I cannot reach them, I DON'T GO!

PLEASE report closed farms, broken links and incorrect info using the "Report Corrections" form below.

Benton County

  • Bloomsbury Farm - pumpkins, winter squash, prepicked produce, gift shop, snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms, picnic area, face painting, petting zoo, farm animals, birthday parties, weddings and wedding parties, school tours, events at your location (call for info)
    3260 69th Street, Atkins, IA 52206. Phone: 319-446-7667. Email: karen@bloomsburyfarm.com. Open: Payment: Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover. Directions: . Click here for a map and directions. Payment: Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover. . Fax:. . Crops are usually available in September, October. Haunted barn, Western play area, Grandmas Playhouse, Pig races, pedal cart track, corn box, tractor tire maze.
    Comments from a visitor on September 22, 2008: "A wonderful place to visit. They made great improvements after the tornado hit their farm a few years ago and it is very kid friendly with lots of activities for them. We go every year!"
  • K & K Ranch - Uses natural growing practices, apples, broccoli, carrots, cherries, corn (sweet), cucumbers, kale, melons, peppers, plums, raspberries (red), raspberries (black), raspberries (Spring, black), summer squash, winter squash, strawberries, tomatoes, Turkeys (organic, not-hormone-fed), Fresh eggs, U-pick and already picked
    5488 33rd Ave, Center Point, IA 52213. Phone: (319) 929-3736. Email: Kalebholsinger@yahoo.com. Open: Call ahead. Click here for a map and directions. Payment: Cash, Check, Venmo. . Alternate Phone: (319) 929-3297. . Get off interstate and head east, take your first right turn at the big rooster. First house on the left. We use natural practices, but are not yet certified Organic. (ADDED: January 17, 2021)

Cedar County

  • Lincolnway Flower Farm - Uses natural growing practices, corn (sweet), flowers, pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, strawberries, farm animals, school tours
    2207 Old Lincoln Hwy, Lowden, IA 52255. Phone: 563 941-5417. Open: Call ahead for hours. Directions: On Hwy 30 between De Witt and Cedar Rapids. West side of Lowden on Old Hwy 30. . Click here for a map and directions. Payment: Cash, Check. Crops are usually available in May, June, July, August, September, October, November. We use natural practices, but are not yet certified Organic. Iron garden sculpture available for order.

Iowa County

  • Genoa Bluffs Farms - strawberries, pumpkins, winter squash, Honey from hives on the farm, gift shop, concessions or refreshment stand, porta-potties are available, picnic area, inflatables or bounce houses, trike track, birthday parties, school tours, group reservations
    2168 H.h. Avenue, Marengo, IA 52301. Phone: 319-668-8447. Email: info@genoabluffspumpkinfarm.com. Open: Pick Your Own Strawberries Starting June Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm Sunday 1pm to 6pm. Directions: Interstate I-80 to Exit 211 South off exit, take first gravel road heading East, 216th Street, Genoa Bluffs Farms is second property on the left side of the road. Strawberries First week in June till berries are done producing; Pick Your Own or Pre picked Pumpkins and Corn Maze . Click here for a map and directions. Payment: Cash, Debit cards, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx. . . open September 23 through October 30th. Fresh Strawberry pie by the slice or by special order. Place an order, pick your berries and leave with a fresh strawberry pie! Grab a nice refreshing slushy after a warm day in the patch! Fresh preserves and honey from our farm! Pumpkin season- variety of pumpkins of all color and sizes. Pie pumpkins, gourds, and squash. Full concessions, with fresh baked pies! Pumpkin Fest October 15th and Flashlight Maze. (ADDED: May 20, 2016)

 

Winter Squash

Winter Squash Picking Tips, Recipes and Information

Winter squash comes in many sizes, shapes and colors.  Choosing a winter squash that meets your needs and the taste you will like can be tough without a guide!  This page provides you that information, plus nutritional analysis and links to our freezing and canning pages!

Unlike its summer squash, which is best when harvested very young and used right away, winter squash is harvested at a mature age, which makes the outer skin hard and inedible. The skin, however, is protective and increases its storage life. Winter squash can be stored for 3 months or longer if kept in a cool dark place, like a basement or garage.  I've had winter squash last a full year when stored like this!

The yellow and orange flesh of the winter squash is more nutritious and richer in vitamins, especially beta carotene, than summer squash. Winter squash is always served cooked and, because of its tough skin, only the inside flesh is eaten. The flesh, is sweet and great to make pie (pumpkins are a winter squash)

Size:

Choose a size based on your cooking needs. There's no difference in flavor based on size of the same variety of a squash.

Appearance:

For a quality squash, choose one that has a smooth, dry rind and is free of cracks or soft spots. Skin that is easily nicked or scraped with a fingernail means that the squash did not reach maturity. Look for rind that has a dull appearance. A shiny rind indicates that is has been picked too early or has a wax coating, which masks the skin. Choose squash that has a deep color and is heavy for its size. It is also best to choose squash with a firm, rounded, dry stem. Squash with no stem permits bacteria to enter.

Cut pieces can be found in the grocery market. Choose pieces that have a good interior color and finely-grained flesh that is not fibrous. Ideal flesh should be barely moist, but not too dry or too watery.

Storing Winter Squash

Winter squash has a long shelf life and can be stored for up to 3 months or longer in a cool, dry place between 55° and 60°F. A higher temperature will shorten storage time, but it will not alter the flavor. Storage temperatures below 50°F (as in a refrigerator) will cause squash to spoil more rapidly. If the squash needs to be refrigerated, it can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks. Cut pieces of squash should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated. Cooked, pureed squash can be frozen for use later as a side dish or to thicken, color, or flavor soups, sauces, or stews.

Varieties of Winter Squash

Here are a few of the most popular winter squash varieties; see this page for a complete master list of winter squash varieties.

Photo of acorn squash Acorn
This acorn-shaped squash is one of the most widely available among the small winter squash. It measures about 6 inches around and weighs 1 to 2 pounds. Baking is an excellent way to bring out the sweet, nutty flavors of this tender fleshed squash.
Photo of banana squash Banana
This squash comes in three varieties: blue, orange, and pink. Among the three varieties, the pink banana is the most common in the United States. It is grown commercially in Florida. This large, thick-skinned cylindrical squash averages 20 inches long and weighs around 12 pounds. It is so large that it is usually sold in chunks instead of whole. Its creamy textured orange flesh offers a fruity and buttery delight to your palate. Although both baking and steaming are great ways to prepare this tasty squash, steaming produces a slightly sweeter, yet mild flavor.
Buttercup squash  Buttercup
This stocky squash is 6 to 8 inches in diameter, averaging 2 to 4 pounds. Its popularity stems from its sweet and creamy orange flesh. Its shortcoming is that it tends to be a bit dry. Baking or steaming can solve this problem; the dry flesh becomes smooth and tastes similar to a mixture of honey, roasted chestnuts, and sweet potato. Even more than baking, steaming softens the flesh and creates a thick puree (Great for pies)
Photo of buttercup squash Butternut
This elongated bell-shaped squash measures about a foot long and weighs an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Its popularity is due to its meaty, yet moderately sweet golden orange flesh. Because of its thin skin, this squash can easily be skinned with a vegetable peeler, which makes it easy to cut and prepare. Baking enhances its sweet, moist, and nutty flavors. Butternut squash is usually available from August through March. There are actually many variations of butternut.  It can be used to make great "pumpkin" pies.
mexican butternut squash My favorite winter squash is one called "Argos Gold", sometimes also simply called "Mexican Butternut" - it is much longer than the usual "Waltham" butternut, often almost 2 feet long and has a much sweeter taste and smoother texture.  I've finally found one supplier, see this page.

I found another winter / butternut-type squash at Gurney's that looks promising .
Photo of hubbard squash Hubbard
This tear-shaped squash comes in several varieties: green (true), golden, blue, and baby blue. It ranges from dark green to orange and weighs from 5 to 50 pounds. Because of its size, Hubbard's popularity has decreased over the years. However, pre-cut portions of green and orange Hubbard can be found in markets. Green Hubbard's are thick, sweet, and dry. Golden Hubbard's; a smaller squash than the green or blue; are fairly sweet, but have a bitter aftertaste.The Blue or gray varietiey make wonder pumpkin pies!
Photo of spaghetti squash Spaghetti
This oval-shaped yellow squash is also called the vegetable spaghetti. It averages 9 inches in length and may weigh 2 to 3 pounds. When cooked, the crisp, tender fhesh falls a apart into spaghetti-like strands that have a mild lightly sweet and fresh taste. Keep in mind that the larger the vegetable, the thicker the strands and the more flavorful the taste. It really is good with spaghetti sauce on the cooked squash "noodles"
Photo of sweet dumpling squash Sweet Dumpling
This solid round squash, formerly known as the vegetable gourd, is a perfect serving for one person. It is about the size of an apple and weighs up to 1 pound. The skin is a warm cream color striped with ivy green, and it changes to butter color and orange during storage. The skin is relatively tender and can be eaten. The pale-yellow flesh is smooth, fine, and dry as a potato and produces a rich starchy, light to mild sweetness, with a slight corn flavor.

 

 

Other Local Farm Products (Honey, Horses, Milk, Meat, Eggs, Etc.)
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