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Growing Squash, Pumpkins & Gourds

Pumpkins were used by American Indians long before the Pilgrims visited our shores, so readily found their way to the first Thanksgiving table. Cultivated Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America and seeds from related plants found in Mexico date back to 5500 B.C.

Believing that squash seeds would increase fertility the early Native Americans made this vegetable an important staple in their diet, refering to as "The apple of God,"

When most people think of gourds, ornamental gourds come to mind, techinally they are any plant or fruit of the Cucurbitacex Family. Melons, cucumbers, squashes, and pumpkins are all part of this family.

History - Growing - Uses - Storage - Diseases and Pests

Historical Information

Squash, pumpkins and gourds all belong to the Cucurbitacex family which also includes melons and cucumbers.

Pumpkin History

Squash Named from Indian Word

Squash Varieties

What Is a Gourd

Wild and Wonderful World Of Gourds

Growing

Seeds of pumpkin and squash will not germinate satisfactorily in cold soil, and the plants may be injured by light frosts. Delay planting until the soil has warmed to 68 degrees F at a depth of four inches and the danger of frost has passed.

Growing Gourds

Growing Pumpkins

Growing Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Growing Squash in the Home Garden

Growing Squash Fact Sheet - U. Conn.

Uses

Pumpkin flesh has no cholesterol, is low in fat and sodium and rich in vitamins, in particular beta carotene and vitamin A. It is used in soups, main courses and desserts, notably pumpkin pie. Large varieties are carved to make jack-o-lanterns on Halloween. Dried seeds may be eaten as a snack.

Squash is eaten as a vegetable and also used as a base of many commercial pumpkin pie fillings.

A gourd can become a banjo, a dipper for water, a sponge for your bath, an herb planter, a bird house or a holiday table decoration.

Squash Recipes from Whats Cooking America

Uses for Gourds

Gourd Art

Storage

Squash & Pumpkins

Store only those that are free of cuts, wounds, and insect or disease damage. Immediately after harvest, they should undergo a ripening or curing process to harden the shell. A curing period of about two weeks at 75 to 85 degrees F with good circulation is desirable, storage should then be at 50 to 70 degrees F with humidity between 50 and 70 percent.

Gourds

Pick your gourds after the stems are brown and the vines are dying. Frost will not damage a good mature gourd so let them stay on the vine as long as they are getting nutrition from the vine. Do not pick too soon, you want a good thick shell and hard gourd.
Gourds can take 6-12 months to a year to dry completely. Some farmers leave their gourds in the field until the next season and then collect them and they dry just fine.

Harvesting and Storage of Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds

Storing Pumpkins

Storage Secrets for Winter Squash

Diseases and Pests

Main insect pests of pumpkin and squash are the squash bug, squash vine borer, cucumber beetle, and aphids. Common diseases are powdery mildew, downy mildew, angular leaf spot, black rot and gummy stem blights, mosaic viruses, and bacterial wilt.

Crop Profile for Squash and Pumpkin in Minnesota

Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production

Squash and Pumpkin IPM Definations

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Related Do-It-101 Pages

Gourd Art

Pumpkin Carving


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