Has anyone grown Eastern Rise winter squash? Questions...

plantslayer(8)August 6, 2009

I grew three Eastern Rise winter squash this year, three plants produced only four little squash, but I am happy since this is my first shot at doing this and it could have been much worse. Eastern Rise is similar in size and shape to Kabocha, but orange.

So I was wondering:

1) Is poor sunlight what might have limited fruit set and production? I didn't realize it at the time, but it turns out that the spot where the pumpkins are growing does not get much sunlight before around noon. Are there nutrition issues that affect this? Perhaps trimming the lead vines to get more female flowers, or hand pollination would have increased yield? These plants had been very healthy and vigorous though, until the last week or so.

2) I planted these squash out in around May 1 in Seattle, zone 8, pretty early, and now I think the squash are looking fairly ripe. The plants are started to go yellow on me and die, but I don't know if it is because they are just getting old, or what. There is some mildew on the leaves, but I think that is natural around here, and doesn't kill things usually. Is it too early for the squash to have actually ripened? They are a very dark orange right now, ~2 lbs each, and the rind seems pretty tough. The stems on the squash are still a little green, but they are starting to turn yellow. The Fedco catalog I bought this from says 95 DTM, so I guess this means it is kind more or less on time? Should I wait a while?

It would be best for me to harvest them as soon as they are ripe, since I am in an urban plot and the longer something stays outside the more chance it gets stolen or vandalized. (this does happen to other people's plots, not mine yet...)

Thanks for the advice!

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It is possible that lack of light could cause the lower production. Also, given your region, it might be lack of heat. Unless you have really poor soil, I wouldn't suspect that problem. And, no, I wouldn't trim the vines.

Do you see pollinators around the flowers? If not, that could indeed be a factor in low yield. Some parts of the country have a great scarcity of pollinators. If this is the case, then hand pollination would certainly be worth a try.

It is not too early for those squash to have ripened. I don't know this variety. But it is from the c. maxima family, and those squash often ripen fairly quickly. See if you can dent their skin with your finger nail. If you can, leave them on the vine until you can't. Once you can't dent the skin with your fingernail I'd say they are ripe. Days to maturity are almost always more of an estimate. Conditions affect this so much. So don't just go by DTM.

Can you camouflage your squash to protect them from being stolen? If I had that problem I'd probably lay a light layer of dried weeds over top of them, to obscure them from view.

Hope this helps!

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 5:07PM
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Thanks for the advice. I imagine that it is probably sunlight. We do indeed have bees in the garden (they pollinate my cucumbers wonderfully), but maybe if I planted early there weren't many around when the female blossoms were there. I did do a little bit of hand pollination which might have helped me get one flower on track, but I am not sure. But probably it was environment; I just didn't see a lot of female flowers in general.

I'll probably just harvest the squash this weekend; I think the rinds are in fact pretty tough. I feel kind of sad that they are done so early, they are next to a chainlink fence that separates the garden from the street, and every other person who walks past the garden sees the squash hanging there (from a low trellis) and says something about it to me or each other. They had become a tourist attraction!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 6:28PM
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