cultural requirements of squash and pumpkins are similar, and there
is often great confusion in differentiating the two. T.W. Whitaker
and G.W. Bohn presented evidence in 1950 that five species of Cucurbita,
known as pumpkins and squash, originated in the Americas. They defined
the terms pumpkin, summer squash and winter squash as follows:
edible fruit of any species of Cucurbita, used when ripe
as a table vegetable or in pies; flesh is somewhat coarse and/or
strongly flavored, hence is not generally served as a baked vegetable.
Summer Squash-The edible fruit of any species of Cucurbita,
commonly C. pepo, used when immature as a table vegetable.
Squash-The edible fruit of any species of Cucurbita used
when ripe as a table vegetable or in pies; flesh is usually fine-grained
and of mild flavor, hence is suitable for baking.
of the seeds of pumpkin and squash will not germinate satisfactorily
in cold soil, and the plants are injured by light frosts. Planting
should be delayed until the soil has warmed to 68 degrees F at a
depth of four inches and all danger of frost has passed. The use
of summer squash transplants should be considered if early harvest
Fertilizer and lime applications are best based on soil test results.
General recommendations, when using black plastic mulch, would be
one pound of actual nitrogen, two pounds of phosphorus and three
pounds of potash per 1,000 square feet. On bare ground, increase
the amount of nitrogen by 25 percent. This would best be done as
a sidedress application when vines begin to run. Lime should be
applied only if indicated by a soil test
so as to maintain a pH between 6.5 and 6.8.
use of black plastic mulch will conserve moisture and help control
weeds in the row. Spacing of the plants or seeds in the row depends
on the growth habit of the vegetable. For bush type squash and pumpkins,
hills of two plants should be spaced three to four feet apart with
rows on four to five foot centers. For vining types, hills of two
plants should be spaced five feet apart with rows on seven foot
centers. The vining types of squash and pumpkins need the extra
space and will invade even more space if allowed, so plan and plant
insect pests of pumpkin and squash are the squash
bug, squash vine borer, cucumber
beetle and aphids. Important diseases
are powdery mildew, downy mildew,
angular leaf spot, black rot, gummy stem blights, mosaic viruses
and bacterial wilt. See GreenShare
Factsheets on these specific pests and diseases for more information
and control recommendations.
the female flowers produce fruit; male and female parts are in separate
flowers. Male flowers emerge first, followed by the females.
Summer squashes of all types and varieties should be harvested when
they reach a size of four to six inches long and 1.5 to 2.5 inches
in diameter. This ensures high-quality fruit and additional fruit
production. High-quality winter squashes and pumpkins are associated
with maturity, so they should not be harvested until they are fully
ripe. Fruits subjected to a hard frost will not keep; harvest should
be completed before cold weather. A portion of the stem is usually
left attached to the pumpkin or squash at harvest time. Halloween
pumpkins are most attractive when a stem or "handle" is carefully
allowed to remain.
Store only those fruit that are free of cuts, wounds and insect
or disease damage. Immediately after harvest, the fruit 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. Store at 50 to 70 degrees F with humidity between 50
and 70 percent.
from Ted W. Gastier, Ohio State University Extension, 2000