Did you know that your Pumpkins and Squash will need curing in the Autumn Sun if you want them to last more than a few weeks? Pumpkins and Squash are available to grow in a whole host of varieties, shapes, colours and sizes.
When selecting cultivars of Pumpkin or Squash to try growing at home bear in mind some have large fast growing leaves and tendrils and may benefit from plant supports where space is limited.
Growing Pumpkins in a crowded vegetable patch is not good husbandry as the large delicate leaves benefit from air circulation to reduce the outbreak of chlorophyll inhibiting mildew, which will greatly reduce your harvest and crops yield.
Pumpkins and squash are a colourful addition to a fall or autumn vegetable garden, you can even grow them amongst ornamental garden plants for added interest as they scramble towards the sunlight and decorate your host plant with colourful hanging living lanterns.
Curing your cucurbits for extended vegetable storage and prolong shelf life is easy as long as you follow a few simple rules.
- During the ripening process or fall, it is essential that you raise your pumpkins off the earth or hard surfaces by placing clean straw, newspaper or cardboard under them to prevent them rotting. In wet Summers it maybe wise to do this earlier in the season to protect from excess moisture and damage from mould.
- If your fortunate to have drying racks of wood or metal these help the air circulate and improve the ripening process for your squash.
- Make sure the cucurbits do not touch each other and regularly turn and check them for damage.
- If your short on space then the Pumpkins can be cured in the vegetable garden, very much like the Pumpkin farmers do on a commercial-scale. By simply raising them off the ground with a bed of straw or cardboard you will limit pest damage and prevent rotting of the squash shell.
- An empty glasshouse bench or a cold frame makes an ideal location for curing your homegrown selection of Cucurbita.
- If you have only a few squash to cure then a sunny window sill is sufficient, but still lift your harvest from the sill to allow air to circulate.
- It will take several weeks for your precious pumpkins and scrumptious squash to cure and as long as only the best vegetables are stored they can last for up to 6 months.
Once your selection of homegrown organic pumpkin and squash collective referred to as Cucurbits have cured then a light polish with olive oil will seal the shell and prevent further drying of your tasty Autumn harvest.
Keeping your harvest cool and away from direct sunlight once cured will prolong the storage season, giving you the opportunity to create delicious wholesome and nutritious plant-based food recipes for your vegetable growing family.
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