This is the first time in years that we have grown a crop of pumpkins. Last spring we got six pumpkin plants growing from seeds that we had saved from a store bought piece of butternut pumpkin. We actually thought that we would only need about three or four plants but we put in six because often some seeds don’t germinate. They all did and we ended up with six very strong plants! They soon got going and quickly took over a large section of the vegetable patch.
For a long while we only ever saw male flowers and we were starting to wonder if we were wasting our time! Also the really hot weather that we had in January and February took its toll though and we thought we might not get any pumpkins!
But we rigged up some shade cloth over the patch and after that they really took off. Soon the flowers started coming en mass and there were plenty of male and female flowers. By the end of the summer we had about a dozen good looking pumpkins growing nicely.
Once the weather stated to cool off and the pumpkin plants started to die back I started looking online for information on the best time to harvest pumpkins, how to harvest them and also how to store the harvest pumpkins.
After reading lots of websites that share information on harvesting and storing pumpkins I have come up with the following tips.
Tips for Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins
- pumpkins can be harvested once the vine begins to wither and die
- leave pumpkins on the vine for as long as possible
- pumpkins should have a hard skin and the vine should be withered and dry
- harvest pumpkins before the first heavy frost in cooler climates
- cut the pumpkin from the vine using secateurs and leave a small section (couple of inches) of the vine attached to the pumpkins
- store pumpkins in a cool dry place such as a garage or shed
- place the pumpkins on a surface that allows for good air circulation
- make sure that the harvested pumpkins are not touching each other where they are stored
- in general properly harvested and stored pumpkins will keep for up to 3 months
Here is a short video that I found on YouTube that shows the basics for harvesting and storing pumpkins:
podgardening YouTube video: How to harvest pumpkins
We harvested eleven butternut pumpkins just yesterday. Our pumpkin vines were very dry but the weather has been reasonably mild so far this autumn and we haven’t had any frosts yet. We thought it was best to harvest them now just in case we get a bad frost soon. Actually in total we got thirteen pumpkins but we have already eaten two!
We put our pumpkins in a shed/workshop area so that they would be cool but protected from future frosts. We used the top of an old chicken cage that is no longer being used as a storage platform. The cage is strong enough to hold our harvest pumpkins and our decorative gourds and because it is covered in chicken wire it allows for good ventilation.
We are very pleased with our pumpkin harvest. All going well we hope to sow some more butternut pumpkin seeds in the spring this year!