Harvesting Winter Squash And Pumpkins

No this old guy hasn’t lost his mind, well not yet anyway. Yes I do know most people haven’t planted warm weather crops yet. I haven’t address planting squash and pumpkins because I am sure you can read the planting instructions printed on the back of your seed packages.

Don’t forget my friends South of the equator living in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are now entering their Fall and closing in on Winter.

Harvesting Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Squash and pumpkin’s are subject to the same insect pest that attack cucumbers and melons, namely the vine borer.
Click pictures to Zoom in

vine bore

vine bore moth

The vine borer bug resembles a wasp and lays its reddish eggs at the base of susceptible plants. The larvae bore into the stems blocking the flow of water to the rest of the plant.
As a last resort, you can destroy the borer by spraying an approved pesticide around the base.

Elevate Your Plants Fruits You can also protect developing squash from soil borne disease and insects by placing them on a flowerpot, tin can, brick or block of wood to get the fruit off of the cool damp ground, they will ripen faster and develop better color and flavor.

Squash needs very little weeding but if you experience heavy weed growth, you should do some shallow weeding with a hoe. Caution Pumpkins have feeder roots near the surface and the roots grow to about the same size as the vines. This makes weeding difficult. Be especially careful when cultivating near the main stems and do not move them after the fruit have formed because they are brittle and can easily break.

Harvest Time Winter squash should be left on the vine until the rinds are hard. Now you want to harvest the squash crop when it is at its peak of tenderness and flavor. Winter squash is ready when the stems begin to shrivel, split and dry. By then the plants usually appear ragged as well.

To harvest the squash, use pruning shears to cut the fruits from the vine, leaving a short 2 inch stub of stem attached. Leave squash in the sun to cure for 10-14 days. This curing sweetens the flesh and toughens the skin for storage.

Guard Skin against Rot Once the squash has been harvested, you should wipe the cured skin with a cloth dipped in a weak bleach solution of 4 teaspoons bleach per gallon of water. Wiping the skin with this solution will help prevent rot. Let the fruit dry and do not rinse until you use the squash.

Do Not pile squash more than two fruits high, this could cause bruising. Bruises will discolor them and cause them to go soft and rot.

Store your squash in a dry, cool and well ventilated place were the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, when possible. Winter squash will keep from one to three months, depending upon the variety. You want to place the squash on something soft like thick pads of newspaper or clothes to prevent bruising.

Harvest Pumpkins Later Winter squash matures a lot faster than the pumpkins. You should leave pumpkins on the plants until the vines begin to turn yellow and die back. Again, like with the squash, the pumpkins are ready when the stems begin to split. The pumpkins are ready to harvest when they have reached their mature color, a deep rich orange.

Harvest pumpkins in much the same way as winter squash, cutting the fruit from the vine and leaving a 2 inch stem. Snapping the stems from the vines will result in many broken or missing “handles.” Pumpkins without stems usually do not keep well. Mature pumpkins may be kept outside through light fall frosts, but bring them in before hard freezes come.

Using pruning shears, cut the pumpkin from the vines making sure to leave a 2 to 4 inch stem on the fruit. Next, carefully place the pumpkins in a sunny spot for about a week so that the skins could fully harden. After they cure outside in the sun, wipe the pumpkins down with a clean damp cloth and then store the pumpkins in a cool, dry place. In a garage or basement, pumpkins will keep for up to six months

Do not store pumpkins and squash near apples and pears. These and other ripening fruit release ethylene gas, which will hasten the decay of stored squash. To store squash under refrigeration, it must be cut up and frozen.

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Not from the USA. Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your Comment(s)


3 responses to “Harvesting Winter Squash And Pumpkins

  1. I forgot to tell you something strange, well, at least I think it is strange. I was out by our garden on Saturday and when I looked down at the soil (which I have already turned over when we had a warm day) I noticed that our lettuce from last year is coming up. I did not know that lettuce comes back again! I know it will grow back once you snip it during a current year, but I was surprised to see that it is coming back again in the garden NOW. I am sure it won’t make it because it has been under a lot of snow lately. What do you think about that?


    • Re: Nikitaland Big Grin … Just when I think I have seen, heard or read it all someone comes up with a brain buster like this. Using my best guess, I am going to say that you got a snow cover before the lettuce root stock froze and died last fall/early winter. Snow can act like a blanket keeping the soil above the freezing point, keeping the soil damp and allowing the old lettuce root stock to survive winter weather.
      You should keep good notes and publish your observations on this variety {if known} of lettuce and it surviving and regrowing this spring.
      Happy … smile … salad making.


  2. Can’t wait for things to start growing!


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