Pumpkin Harvest Time

| 9/11/2014 2:13:00 PM

Tags: Urban Homesteading, Gardening, Squash, Pumpkins, Squash Bugs, Erin Sheehan,

Erin SheehanWhen the nights start to feel chilly and the calendar rolls around to September it means one thing at our house: time to harvest winter squash. Last year we grew over 150 pounds of pumpkin and winter squash. This year we aimed for 200 pounds, but we fell far short.



Pumpkin is a staple at our house, providing a base for many delicious and nutritious fall meals. We make pumpkin soup, bread, casseroles, and even pizza and pickles from pumpkin. Last year although we were plagued by powdery mildew we still managed a decent harvest. This year, not so much, thanks to squash bugs.

July 4th weekend I noticed that our pumpkins and squash were suffering. Instead of growing they were dying back. I wrongly assumed that the problem was powdery mildew and treated for it. Instead of rebounding the plants continued to look worse. When I looked closer at the plants I discovered that the leaves were covered with squash bug eggs. Squash bugs lay groups of small brownish eggs on the underside of the plant leaves. When they hatch, the baby squash bugs (called nymphs) suck out the lifeblood of the plants. The leaves turn yellow and eventually the plant dies.


11/2/2015 1:43:24 PM

We'll be cutting back on our pumpkins this coming year, as I think we have a handle on how much we need and can care for. It is fun to give away, but we need to cut back on the work. I have read your posts on usage before, and am always surprised that you put it in everything. I planted my zucchini late and that seemed to out-smart the bugs! So glad to get some for my pancakes and bread (as you do). Mary from Old Dog

9/15/2014 1:06:17 PM

Hi Mary - thanks for the comment and for commiserating with me. We did have a successful summer squash and zucchini crop at our home garden, in SPITE of terrible squash bugs. What worked for us was early detection and relentless control. Every 2-3 days we went out to the squash patch and scoured the plants for eggs. We removed the eggs manually by tearing off the leaf sections that were infected. Sadly, we also used "Eight" a non-organic poison, twice. It was very upsetting to do this, but in 2013 we lost our summer squash/zuke plants to squash bugs in mid-August, whereas this year the plants are still going and here it is September 15. But I think you can do a lot with manual removal/early detection.

9/15/2014 1:02:07 PM

Hi Dave - thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear about your poor harvest this year. Seems like lately we all have feast or famine when it comes to rain. And we all know the importance of water on our homesteads! I hope next year is better for you!

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