Pumpkin, Sugar Pie –
This hard-to-beat pie pumpkin yields small, deeply ribbed, rich orange fruits with dense, deliciously sweet, finely grained flesh which is outstanding for baking and cooking. Long, twisted “handles” give this variety extra ornamental appeal. ‘Sugar Pie’ is ready for harvest approximately 105 days from sowing.
Like other true pumpkins, ‘Sugar Pie’ is derived from the New World species Cucurbita pepo. These warm season, annual vines are monoecious, meaning single plants bear separate male and female flowers. The large, yellow, funnel shaped male blossoms are generally produced first, followed by the fruit-producing female flowers, which are distinguished by bulbous ovaries at the bases. Following pollination by bees, these develop into fruits, which are often obscured by the plant’s large, coarse, heart-shaped or deeply lobed foliage.
Plant pumpkin seeds in full sun and deep, rich, well-drained loam when the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. Regular water is essential, but the plants will not tolerate soggy conditions or wet feet. Where drainage is not optimal, it is advisable to plant them in raised mounds of fertile, porous soil. Vining types may be trellised if space is limited. Watch closely for squash bugs, cucumber beetles and vine borers at the base of the stems. Yearly crop rotation and removal of dead plant debris at the end of the growing season can help to minimize insect and disease problems. Harvest pumpkins before frost when the rinds are hard and fully colored, and the vines have begun to turn brown.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
Green, Dark Green
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
If space is limited, choose bush, rather than vining, varieties. Squash can be direct sown or started indoors. If starting indoors, plant seeds in individual pots 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting squash in the garden, then set transplants 18 to 36 inches apart at the same depth as their container. If sowing the seeds directly in the garden, plant seeds 1 inch deep, 2 to 4 seeds per foot. Winter squash tend to grow on long vines, although some bush varieties are available. Vining types are often grown on low mounds spaced 6 feet apart, with 2 or 3 plants per hill.
Thin seedlings to 1 plant per 18 to 24 inches, or in hills to the best 2 or 3 plants per hill, when the first true leaves appear. When the first five leaves appear, mulch to eliminate weeds and retain moisture. Provide about 1 inch of water per week. Periodically pinch off the fuzzy ends of winter squash vines after a few fruit have formed. Contact your local County Extension office for controls of common squash pests such as cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. Summer squash develop very rapidly after pollination. Plan to go through your patch and harvest every day or two. Squash that are small and tender have the best flavor and table quality. Pick elongated varieties when they reach 2 inches or less in diameter and 6 to 8 inches long. Harvest patty pan types when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
The first sign of a ripening winter squash is a deep skin color. To make sure it’s truly ready to pick, press your fingernail into the skin. If it resists puncture, it is ripe. Use a sharp knife or pruners to cut the fruit from the vine. Leave a piece of stem attached — if it breaks from the fruit, it creates an opportunity for rot.
Zucchini, crookneck, and straightneck summer squashes are best when harvested at a small size, about 6 inches long. Pattypan or scallop squashes are best when they are 3 inches in diameter. Check plants daily because the squashes grow quickly in warm weather. If some escape detection, harvest them as soon as possible. The more you harvest, the more the plants will bear.