Growing Pumpkins and Squashes

Cucurbita maxima – Pumpkin

Cucurbita moschata – Squashes

There are few botanical differences between pumpkins, squashes and marrows since there are trailing and bush types of each.

Squashes and pumpkins can be grown in Britain but both are more popular in North America. They have similar uses to marrows, both summer and stored winter types being available.

Soil and fertilizer requirements

Treat exactly as marrows but be particularly careful to choose a full-sun site.

Plant raising and planting

Pumpkin and squash plants can, like marrows, be raised under glass. They need a lower temperature —10-13°C/50-55°F— and are then transplanted. Alternatively sow either dry or ‘chitted’ seeds directly outside in the final positions at the end of May. They must be covered by jars or cloches until they have germinated. The spacings are the same as for bush or trailing marrow cultivars. Transplanted pumpkins and squashes should be put out, after hardening off, in early June.

Crop management

Again, follow the pattern for marrows. Stop trailing types at 45cm (18in) to encourage laterals which carry the flowers. Some people — in their attempts to produce bigger pumpkins—cover the fruit bearing laterals with soil to encourage adventitious roots which permit greater nutrient and water uptake. Only leave 1 or 2 fruits per plant if you want really large pumpkins.

Harvesting

Pumpkins are usually eaten as they mature— often in pumpkin pie—but they can also be stored in frost-free conditions for winter use. Squashes are sometimes classified into ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ types but this is confusing since they are all better to eat when they are young.

Suitable cultivars

Pumpkins: ‘Hundredweight’: really large fruits for summer and winter use. ‘Mammoth’: orange skinned cultivar; can weigh over 50kg (110lb).

Squashes: ‘Gold Summer Crookneck’: orange/yellow warty skin; use fresh or from store. ‘Sweet Dumpling’: tender and sweet; summer or winter use.

31. May 2013 by admin
Categories: Tips and Advice | Comments Off on Growing Pumpkins and Squashes

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