Last year we planted pumpkins and spaghetti squash for the first time. We harvested 12 spaghetti squash and 5 pie pumpkins. Our large pumpkins didn’t make. However, we harvested them in late July. I really wanted them a little closer to fall this year so we planted a little later. I don’t know if that was a good idea or not.
The spaghetti squash and large pumpkins are just now putting out flowers. We planted the pie pumpkins a couple of months ago and they have been attacked by vine borers and powdery mildew. We’ve had two pumpkins able to grow on these vines…
The other one was complete mush! Last year I put disposable plates under each pumpkin and spaghetti squash as was the advice give by Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. People (who shall remain nameless – to protect the guilty) laughed at me! But guess what, I didn’t have any of this going on! So I don’t care if people laugh at me, the rest of our winter squash get plates put under them.
Here’s some other things I’ve learned about growing winter squash and pumpkins:
- Planting times for our area are March 15th – June 15th and July 30th (so, I will probably throw some more seeds out toward the end of the month when things settle down here and see if I can get some more to grow)
- Squash do just fine direct seeding in the garden.
- Plant in hills (this helps you know where your seeds are!)
- Plant 3 seeds per hill and then thin if needed. (If you make your hills large enough you might not have to thin)
- Keep well watered, plants will live for a long time with not much water, but either they won’t produce any fruit or the fruit will be hard.
- If you plant transplants, plant a few seeds too. That way you’ll have older and younger plants, just in case you get vine borers or something.
- Do not water the leaves, just the soil. This will help with keeping powdery mildew under control.
Pests and Problems:
- Vine borer – if all of the sudden your beautiful plant dies, you probably have a vine borer. Look at the base of the plant and see if some little grubs have bored (drilled) their way into the stem. If you notice it early enough, you can slit the stem with a knife, put some bt (dipel dust) on it for good measure and then bury that part of the vine. One of the good things about these vines is that they can re-root themselves. This is part of the reason for planting seeds with transplants. If we don’t catch them early, we pull the plant and burn it. And we still have our young plants growing.
- Squash bugs and cucumber bugs – you will find these in the flowers. Squish them.
- Squash bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves (they are orangish colored). again – squish them or if you just can’t do it, pull off that leaf and burn it.
- Powdery mildew – is a white mildew that will attack the leaves of squash, melons and cucumbers. It is caused by too much moisture on the leaves and is spread by bugs. We try to cut off infected leaves and burn them. We are struggling again this year and are looking for some organic ways of dealing with this.
Harvesting and Storing:
- Wait as long as possible before harvesting – it is okay for the vine to die first
- Use a pruner to harvest – leaving an inch or two of the stem on the vine.
- Let them sit in the sun for a few day, bottom side up
- Wipe down with rubbing alcohol before storing to increase storage life
- Store only the best – eat the ones with any blemishes or that have lost their stem first
- Winter squashes can also be pureed and frozen or canned if you have a pressure canner
If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comments!
You can find information about other fruits and veggies by searching clicking on the In The Garden tab up top or in The Gardening Notebook.