Time to harvest winter squash and pumpkins

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In the unusually hot summer, pumpkins and winter squash ripened much earlier than usual.

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Helen chestnut Pumpkins and winter squash can be harvested when most of the leaves on the vines have died and the stem is dry and shriveled. Pumpkins and winter squash can be harvested when most of the leaves on the vines have died and the stem is dry and shriveled. Photo by Marie-France Coallier /PNG

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Q. We harvested our winter squash and pumpkins this year. We don’t usually bring them in until this month. Hope we did the right thing and they’ll stock up well.

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A. In the unusually hot summer, pumpkins and winter squash ripened much earlier than usual. Both can be harvested when most of the leaves on the vines have died and the stem is dry and shriveled. At least eight cm of stalk should be left on the fruit.

It is helpful to harden the skins before storage. I do this by storing the cleaned gourds and gourds in a dry, warm place (around 27 ° C) with good air circulation for seven to 10 days before storing them in a dry place at around 15 ° C.

Q. Is it true that cabbage grown next to tomatoes inhibits tomato growth?

A. I’ve heard reports of tomatoes stunted when cabbage is grown in close proximity, e.g. This could simply be due to the fact that cabbage is particularly greedy feed and displaces the tomatoes for nutrients.

Both of the books I have on planting companion plants say that tomatoes are good companion plants for cabbage and other members of the cabbage family, as the tomato leaves repel cabbage butterflies.

Personally, I never grow heavy forage crops like cabbage vegetables next to tomatoes, but I use the tomato “suckers” that are removed when pruning the staked tomatoes to ward off the cabbage butterfly – simply by placing the suckers on cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants. An experienced gardener from Holland gave me this useful tip.

The only plants I cuddle close to the bases of my staked tomatoes are very light forage plants. Lettuce transplants are my usual choices. In summer they thrive near and on the shady side of the tomatoes.

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