Keeping pumpkins after harvest

Garden Q&A

September 07, 1997

I'm worried about the pumpkins that my kids are growing in the back yard. They're huge and starting to turn orange. Some of the vines seem to be turning brown.

I'm worried we won't make it to Halloween. What's the best course of action?

Pumpkins can be harvested as soon as the rind becomes hard and the fruits are fully colored. Leaving your pumpkins in the patch may lead to disease or problems with wildlife feeding. Frost also can damage pumpkins.

Cut the thick stems with sharp pruning shears, leaving a 3- to 4-inch "handle." Take care not to bruise the fruits. Fruits that do get bruised can be "cured" in a location that's 80-85 degrees and has good ventilation. Leave them there for about 10 days and then move them to a cool, dry area of your basement until you're ready to use them.

My lawn is still brown in patches. Will it ever green up? What can I do if some areas are completely dead?

This summer's dry weather has been tough on turf, to say the least. Cool-season grasses, such as fescue and tall fescue, should recover with a return to cooler, wetter conditions. (Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and zoysia, are drought-resistant.)

Even as rain brings recovery to your lawn, this is a good time to re-seed bare or dead areas. If weeds are a problem, spray the area with a nonselective herbicide containing glyphosate. Wait one week, then rake out the dead vegetation. Water the spot well, then seed with a turf-type tall fescue variety recommended for your area.

Walk on the reseeded area to press the seeds into close contact with the soil. Cover the area lightly with straw and keep it moist at all times. After the grass is up and growing vigorously, apply a starter lawn fertilizer at the labeled rate.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For more information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www .agnr.umd.edu/hgic.

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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