Growing winter squash and pumpkins are super rewarding. Pumpkins aren’t only great food, but they’re also beautiful to use in your fall decor. There are truly dozens and dozens of plants to undertake, and you’ll be surprised at the variability among winter squashes.
Growing winter squash isn’t really different from growing summer squash, but there are a few things to recollect about winter varieties.
GROWING WINTER SQUASH AND PUMPKINS
Winter squash is named winter squash because the squash fruit will store without special treatment for several months. So squash harvested in late summer is often eaten in winter. This makes pumpkins and squashes perfect if your goal is to grow your own food year-round.
WHEN TO PLANT PUMPKINS
Winter squash seeds should be planted directly within the ground within the spring – a minimum of 4 months before your first frost date. Here in zone 8, our first frost is typically early November, so I had much time starting the seeds in late May.
Thinking of winter squash as a fall crop, it’s easy to forget to line them call in early spring, so don’t make that mistake! Choosing the proper time to plant is completely necessary as large pumpkins can take several weeks to ripen completely.
WHERE TO PLANT WINTER SQUASH
Squashes love the sun, so confirm to settle on a location that gets 6-8 hours of sun. Also, confirm to plant them where they’ll have much space to grow. Most winter squash and pumpkins are very large vines.
Seriously. Give them lots and much of space.
A common way of planting winter squash is in groups of three. Poke 3 seeds about an in. into the soil, and every vine will grow call in a special direction from one central point.
TIPS FOR BEST SUCCESS
Watering ➜ squashes need water to form fruit. There’s nobody right answer to what proportion water they have. Just confirm your plants get a minimum of an in. of water per week (more if it’s really hot). And don’t allow them to dry out.
Fertilizing ➜ large plants need a lot of food. Again, there’s not a particular science to the present . Watch your plants and see how they’re doing. Yellow leaves, few flowers, and poor fruit set are signs they’re struggling. As a general rule, give your plants a balanced fertilizer at planting then once every 2-4 weeks or as required.
Weeds ➜ When the plants are larger, they’ll be less tender, but initially you would like to stay weed competition to a minimum. Use cardboard boxes, newspaper, or your favorite mulch to hide the bottom around your pumpkin plants.
COMPANION PLANTING FOR PUMPKINS
I’ve grown pumpkins with everything from tomatoes to watermelons and never had any trouble. the most important factor is basically spacing. Once your squash plants get large, it is often hard to urge the opposite plants in your garden.
Flowers are literally the simplest companions for winter squash. Your favorite flowers are an excellent choice, but the subsequent plants are great choices to grow with winter squash plants.
● Nasturtium – this beautiful colorful flower may help repel squash bugs. It’s also perfect for topping salads!
● Marigold – flowers don’t get any easier to grow than marigolds. Their strong scent can also repel bugs.
● Radish – super easy to grow and said to repel squash bugs.
● Tall crops like corn and sunflowers – perfect for fitting more plants during a small area
POLLINATING WINTER SQUASH FLOWERS
Squashes make male and feminine flowers that aren’t self-pollinating. in order that they must be pollinated by hand or visiting pollinators to form fruit. That alone may be a great reason to plant some flowers around your pumpkin patch.
The first flowers you see on your squash plant are usually male flowers. I’m guessing that the plant is showing off a touch to start out to draw in bees and butterflies. Later as female flowers that need far more energy to appear, they’re more likely to be pollinated by bugs.
If your squash isn’t setting any fruit, it might be time handy pollinate.
To hand pollinate your fruit, simply identify a male flower and a female flower. nip the male flower and take away the petals. Swirl the stamen of the male flower around inside the feminine flower, and you’re good to go!
PROBLEMS GROWING WINTER SQUASH
Unfortunately, winter squash and pumpkins are frequently suffering from pests and diseases. Here are a number of the foremost common issues encountered and what you’ll do about it.
➜ No fruit: this is often usually thanks to poor pollination. See above for recommendations on hand pollinating squash.
➜ Squash bugs: these hideous pests cause brown leaves, stunted growth, and are difficult to manage. Hand-picking and companion planting are the simplest organic choices. Horticultural oils will work on the young nymphs but must be reapplied often.
➜ Vine borers: Sudden wilting of your squash plant are often caused by small caterpillars that bore into the bottom of squash plants. you would possibly be ready to save your plant if you remove them carefully with a knife.
➜ Powdery mildew: A white powdery fungal growth that sets up shop on your squash plant leaves. Prevention is best than treatment, so if you recognize you’ve had PM before, pretreat your plant with organic methods of control.
Get complete tips for handling squash pests and diseases during this post.
WHEN to select YOUR PUMPKINS
For the simplest flavor, allow the squash fruit to ripen on the vine. You’ll know it’s time to select your pumpkins when the vine starts to shrivel and die and therefore the stem of the squash is tough.
Double-check your timing by pressing on the skin together with your fingernail. If you break the skin of the squash, it’s not ready.
HERE ARE SOME MORE TIPS for selecting WINTER SQUASH:
● Acorn, dumpling, and delicata squash will get a signature orange spot on the bottom side once they are ready.
● Always cut (never break) the vine and leave 2 or more inches of stem on the fruit. Pulling the stem off will make the fruit vulnerable to molding.
● Never carry the squash by the stem. It’s likely to interrupt off and will ruin your harvest.
CURING WINTER SQUASH
Some winter squashes are suitable for consumption at the time of harvest. Others should be stored to sweeten and yummy up for 1-2 months. So which requires curing and which require storing?
I like this handy curing and storage chart at Johnny’s Seed.
If you would like to cure your winter squash, don’t worry. It’s very simple to try to to. Curing is just the method of allowing the skin and rind of the fruit to harden in order that the edible meat inside is safe during storage.
Curing is straightforward but takes time. Allow the squash to take a seat during a warm, dry space, call at the sun, or during a greenhouse, for two weeks. Larger squash should be rotated and allowed to cure for an additional 2 weeks.
HOW TO STORE WINTER SQUASH
● search for a cool dry area, just like the basement or a closet, to store the squash.
● confirm to store them up off of the bottom. Never pile them on top of every other as this will cause bruising and invite mold and decay.
● Check them every few weeks to form sure none have soft icky spots or are chewed by a hungry rodent.
● When kept properly, butternut, Hubbard, and kabocha squash can store up to 6 months. Acorn, spaghetti, and delicata squash can store up to 3 months.