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Pumpkins and Winter Squashes

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They prefer a soil with medium to high nitrogen levels, fertile, humus-rich, well-drained but moist-retentive and a sunny place. Prepare the planting site by working in plenty of well-rotted compost or manure. Soak seeds overnight before planting them in holes of at least 30 cm wide and deep or 45 cm deep and 60 cm wide if the cultivar is very large. Space plants 2-3 m apart, depending on the cultivar as some of them can develop very large trailing plants, with large leaves while others are compact and bushy. Protect and mulch after planting.

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You can apply a top-dressing of a general fertilizer soon after planting. Water only if the weather is too dry. Train the shoots in circles on the ground or grow them on supports. If you think is necessary you can hand-pollinate the plants and if you only need few large fruits just remove all the young fruits except two or three of them.

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After the fruits are large enough, remove any leaves that are shading the fruits to encourage them to ripen. Fruits can be harvest 10-12 weeks after planting but if you intend to store the fruits leave them on the plant to mature as long as possible but pick them before the first frost. Cut each fruit with a long stake, let them in a sunny place for 10 days to harden their skin. Cover the fruits over night to protect them from frosts or keep them indoors at 27-32 Celsius degrees (81-90 F) for for days to harden their skin.

Store the fruits in a well-ventilated place at around 10 Celsius degrees (50 F) with humidity of 95% if possible. The period of storing can be from 4 to 6 month or even more depending on the conditions and cultivars.

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