Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't let your pumpkins freeze!!

Get ready to pick pumpkins, squash
and gourds
Pumpkin in the patch - cropped
Pumpkins, spaghetti squash and gourds are hardier in cold weather than their zucchini and summer squash cousins.  Nevertheless, you need to beware of the dangers of frost and a hard freeze. 

How long should you leave pumpkins and squash in the garden?
Pumpkins, squash and gourds can generally be left in the garden as long as the ground stays dry and until there is a freeze.  Even if a light frost kills the leaves, pumpkins and squash can be left outdoors.  While they will tolerate a light frost, it's still best to cover them with a cloth blanket (not plastic) when frost is predicted. 

Did you know?  Temps in the 28 degree range and lower will destroy the outside skin and ruin the tissue and the quality of the flesh will go downhill from there.  So make sure all the pumpkins and squash are picked prior to a freeze.  

If pumpkins are still green or partly green with some orange, it's best to pick them before frost can damage the skin.  If that happens, pumpkins will stop turning color.  Once picked, put the pumpkin in a cool, dry place where it won't freeze so it can complete the process of turning color, just like we do with our not-quite ripe tomatoes.

When you pick the pumpkin or squash:
  • Cut the stem with a knife and try to keep the stem intact when you move the pumpkin.  A damaged stem can cause the pumpkin to rot and that means less time to enjoy it for fall d├ęcor.  
  • If it is wet when picked, dry the pumpkin and clean off mud as moisture can lead to mold.
  • Keep pumpkins and squash in a cool, dry place where they can last quite well for several weeks.
Save some seeds for a new garden adventure
When you cut your pumpkin, save some seeds to plant next year.  Remove all the pulp from the seeds and allow them to dry, and then keep the seeds in a cool, dry place in a jar or plastic bag. 

Plant the seeds next year to see what surprising shape or color you might have. If pumpkins have grown in the same garden with zucchini or other squash, they will likely cross-pollinate and the seeds will be a hybrid.  Next year's fruit may look quite different than its 2010 original!


Need help with your Fall clean up?  Contact us at 379-4956 or email jaeg1@comcast.net.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I am growing pumpkins and wasn't sure how to portect them from the frost. :)