Acorn, Hubbard, buttercup, spaghetti, delicata and golden nugget. Winter squash are truly beautiful and lots of fun to grow— and good keepers for winter meals.
Harvest your pumpkins and winter squash in the fall, before they can be damaged by frost. Before being stored away, they should be cured in a warm, dry place for several weeks to allow their skins to toughen. Most squash and pumpkins taste better after they’ve been cured and then stored for a couple of weeks.
The Orchard Rack is good for storing “keeper” crops, such as winter squash, onions and potatoes. The drawers are slatted to ensure good air circulation, and they slide out for easy access. Photograph courtesy of Gardeners Supply Company.
Store pumpkins and winter squash in a cool, dry indoor room. A temperature of about 60 degrees F is ideal so some people store them under the bed in an unused bedroom. Winter squash will rot quickly in the cool and humid conditions of a cellar or garage. Eat acorn, spaghetti and delicata squash first. They won’t keep well past the holidays.
Growing Winter Squash
Squash plants take up a lot of space, but they’re not fussy about where they grow. I banish mine to a spot behind the barn where they can sprawl as much as they want. You can usually plan on harvesting one or two good sized squash from each plant. The usual recommendation is to put two to three plants (or seeds) in a little group, and space these “hills” about three feet apart.
Don’t plant your squash until the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. Young squash plants appreciate protection from insects and harsh weather. I cover mine with garden fabric (row cover). Fertilize a couple of times early in the growing season and then forget the plants until the first light frost, when the leaves will die and reveal your harvest.
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By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.
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