Pumpkin, Zucchini, Squash

Cucurbita pepo
Sow depth1 inch
EmergenceAbout a week or two (Summer Crookneck and zucchini seemed to take slightly longer to germinate than the Cheyenne Bush).
TemperatureHm, I'm going to say hotish. There is a dearth of information, generally, about temperature, and since this species is so diverse... Just "hot."
LightLotsa light, but can live with a little shade.
SoilNot a fan of sandy soil.
HeightVaries. Generally bushy (1-3 feet tall), but much wider (2-4 feet) than tall (Pumpkin might be a surprise, even though it's a bush variety--most are vines, which are crazy-long.).
PollinationHave separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Female flowers are on a tiny ovary, to differentiate them. Can cross-pollinate, normally via bees, so hand pollination is necessary as soon as flowers open, as the flowers may only be around for a single day, in some instances.
MaturityNot daylight sensitive, so will continue flowering as long as it's hot enough, I guess. About 90 days for Cheyenne Bush pumpkin; 80 days for zucchini and summer crookneck. Most pumpkins take longer, but Cheyenne is a smaller variety (only 5-8 pound fruits) of ornamental pumpkin with fair culinary use. I thought growing 40-pound pie pumpkins would be a bit ridiculous in my apartment.
HarvestPumpkins should be harvested when they have a uniform colour and the rind is hard (poke a fingernail at it, and if it goes through the skin, well, it's not ripe). Fruit will survive a frost, but not a hard freeze, for those of you gardening out of doors. Harvest zucchini and summer crookneck when they are immature and about 6 inches long--any longer, and they will start being tough.
Culinary UsePumpkin: pie, roasted seeds, immature pumpkin used as squash or zucchini, mashed, soup, leaves cooked or used in soup, tempura, steamed and used as dessert with a custard filling, ravioli filling. Zucchini: edible flowers (tempura, fried, stuffed, sauteed, baked, used in soups), salad, soup, stir fry, roasted, stuffed and baked, used in bread and muffins, barbequed, souffleed, stew, pancakes, bread. Squash: eh, you get the idea. Pretty much the same as above.
ProblemsPicky about root systems--don't transplant or mess 'em up. Sow where you want to grow. If you have to thin, use scissors, don't rip the plant out. You'll be upset when the happy ones die suddenly. I'm still uncertain why C. pepo are so picky about the roots, but they are (or, mine were when I "transplanted" them). All I can figure is that the roots are close to the surface of the soil, and therefore it's more traumatic if they're disturbed, because there isn't anything deeper that can maintain the plant's water/nutrient requirements. I just think they're too melodramatic. Powdery mildew (to avoid this, don't water leaves, water beneath the leaves); Fusarium wilt; scab; bacterial wilt; insect-born viruses that cause stunted growth, chlorosis, and death; cutworm; wireworm; spider mite; aphid; squash bug; squash vine borer; striped cucumber beetle.

This species contains squash such as acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and, of course, yellow crookneck squash; it also includes some (but not all) pumpkins, as well as zucchini. All of these varieties of C. pepo can pollinate each other, so the seed/fruit might look a bit funky if they are grown in close proximity and pollinated by a different variety (or maybe next year's seed/fruit--I'll let you know). It reminds me of the Cukeloupe I grew one year as a child. I had cucumber plants growing next to cantaloupe plants. They are different species, but I'm convinced that the cantaloupe pollinated the cucumber because I had a rough, circular fruit (looked like a cantaloupe) on my cucumber vine that smelled and tasted like cucumber. Upon googling (the steward of all knowledge), it seems that maybe the seed I had saved from the previous year's cucumber had been the culprit cross-pollinated fruit, which yielded the awkward interspecies love-child. Unfortunately, I harvested the Cukeloupe fruit before they were ripe, and none of the seeds were viable. (Also, during my googling, I found someone whose answer was cucumber and cantaloupe can't cross-pollinate because cucumber is a vegetable and cantaloupe is a fruit. Huh. I didn't know the English language prohibited flowers from gettin' it on, just because we call their baby unripened melons "vegetables" and ripe melons "fruit." I shouldn't be so mean. But really. This is exactly how misinformation on the internet spreads, people who claim "professional experience" as their source for this knowledge and other peeps go around saying "Hey, guess what? A cucumber isn't a fruit." See how that works? It's horrible! Cucumbers are fruit. So are tomatoes, and bell peppers, and habanero peppers, and shelled peanuts, and green beans, and sunflower seeds!)

But now, I'm allergic to all melon and cucumber. A veritable shame.

Anyway, I'm curious to see how this'll work out with the pumpkin/squash/zucchini. 2-4 feet wide? Hm. One plant = my entire planter box. Guess how many I have growing? Like, five.

Lucky me!

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One Response to Pumpkin, Zucchini, Squash

  1. I just found you in http://www.blog-webkatalog.de/haus-und-garten-blogs/ and you wrote in German.
    I cant believe really that an indoor garden can work. If you do so you need a lot of big windows and additional special lamps. But nevertheless if I would have no other possibilities I would do it in the same way. Greetings from Germany.
    A garden friend from Germany



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