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Garden Devastation. Advice needed on winter squash/Pumpkins

Chaska, MN(Zone 4a)

Hi All. I need some advice.
I left for vacation two weeks ago. Just before leaving I was fighting a powdery mildew infection in my squash. This is my first year for winter squash. I have planted pumpkin before though. This year I planted 6 Butternut squash (JWS 6823 from Johnnys), plus 6 Delicata Squash (JS OG from Johnny's), plus 6 Rockstar Pumpkin and 6 Sweet Granite Cantalope. I have never had powdery mildew before... but I'm thinking it was due to overplanting. I put all of these in a bed that is 4 ft wide 28 ft long. So each had about 2ft between them. Of course I knew they would Sprawl out of the bed... but I didn't realize the mildew danger. Anyway, I started fighting the mildew with milk spray, but then had to leave on vacation... and my in-laws took charge of the garden. I think they sprayed some... but just harvesting was a lot of work... so that's that. So here are my questions
All of the squash plants look nearly dead. But I can still prick into the butternut and delicata with my fingernail.... So Should I let them stay on the vine... until they get harder?? or can I harvest them now?
I know they need to be out in the sunshine for a time after harvest too? How long is that? Would putting them on my deck work??
Same with pumpkins. They are turning orange.. but are not there yet.... should I leave them on or take them off? Will they still get orange OFF the vine? Also, note the photo with these white bugs on one of the pumpkins... What are they.. Will they do damage? How shall I kill them?

Will this Mildew Wreck next years garden? Does it infect the soil?? Or will the freezing winter temps Clean it out?

PS.. It has been a really HOT streak here in MN for the last week. So no where near freezing temps.. I had planned to harvest after a "killing frost" but that is a long way off.

Last Question: I have never grown onions before. I have a Comred I got from Fleet Farm and some Patterson onions from Johnnys. When do these come out? The stalks are folded over but not brown yet? I have included photos. Thanks!

Thumbnail by hillabeans Thumbnail by hillabeans Thumbnail by hillabeans Thumbnail by hillabeans Thumbnail by hillabeans
Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

1. Insects are nyphs stage of squash bugs. You want to kill them. Can use pyrethrins with Neem oil or a stronger insecticide.

2. Pumpkins when they start to turn ornage will not grow any more in size and can be harvested and will orange up on their own.

3. Looks like your butternuts are ready to be picked. Same thing with them...once they are fully colored with their beige color they can be harvested and stored.

You can put them in a cool dry place but if you want can keep them on a deck for a few days in the sun as sometimes they can leak from the handle when cut off the vine. I usually try to harvest my winter squashes and pumpkins asap because they are susceptible to diseases and insects in the garden.

Powdery mildew is always around. Its a perennial problem but yes good hygene to reduce innoculum for next year is helpful.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

oh and the onions are ready too! I would lift them and stoor in a cool,dry place as well!

Chaska, MN(Zone 4a)

Thank so much drobarr!! I will set to work harvesting.

As for the Good Hygene... do you just mean removing all the dead plant matter? I usually do this, and then we amend the beds with chicken bedding in the fall and till it in. Is there a "treatment" I should do first? Spray the bed with milk?? (supposedly helps kill mildew?)

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I would always remove and destroy any diseased plant matter as soon as you complete harvest. I dodnt think you need to apply anything at this point fungicide wise. Powdery mildew is one of those diseases that come almost every year when the conditions are right. The best thing to do is at very first sign is begin a treatment program. Sounds like yours came in pretty late and you were able to get quite a crop before hand.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Spraying your soil with milk will not help kill the spores in the soil. It won't kill spores and will just waste milk. Spores are everywhere. The only long term solution to powdery mildew is prevention. Some things you can control, like avoiding excess watering and not overcrowding and not helping it out spreading infected plant material. Other things, like humidity or mildew-happy weather, you can't.

You can also plant resistant varieties if its an ongoing problem, and prophylactically treat with fungicide on vulnerable crops like squashes. There are numerous options there, including many that are affordable and quite safe.

SW, AR(Zone 8a)

Yeah, it looks like you have a nice bug crop there. The same happens here at times on squash in late summer, especially pumpkins. I strive to get crops in early in the growing season, when insects are still somewhat controllable. I combat squash bugs hand-to-hand; I keep a well-honed, right thumb nail handy. I usually win if the enemy shows itself. Beheading creates less of a stink than squashing, according to my smeller. As the season grows, insect populations grow and become tougher, it seems to me. If you can win early; they are not as prolific late.

I gathered a dozen or so pie pumpkins the other day and just put them under a pavilion, on some rabbit wire–first time this way, time will tell. I used the squash bug’s thumb nail (a tool that can wear many hats) to check them. They didn’t all pass the test. The vines were gone (dying or dead) and it was hotter’n blue blazes in the patch “with no relief in sight,” as the forecaster casted, so I harvested them.

That’s a nice move on having the cinder blocks pull double duty. We cure our onions before storing. I hang them in the sun on cylinders of concrete reinforcement wire, another tool that can wear many hats.

Good onion transplants and info can be had here:

To help control diseases and insects, I periodically turn the soil during the dormant season.

Chickens feast along behind, having a party. They don’t cull; they take the good with the bad.

I enjoyed the pictures, thank you. All in all, it looks like you are going to have some good eats.

I hope that you all enjoyed your vacation.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Here is how I keep my butternut squash for a few days before it goes into the cool dry basement. I moved all my pumpkins to the front covered porch for decorating.

Thumbnail by drobarr
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I've had squash bugs target my curing fruit outdoors, so I cover them up with floating row cover.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Anytime you have fruit outside after harvest they can be susceptible to various pests. A watchout for my area up here is the marmorated stink bug. I found one on my pumpkin the other day. The floating row cover would be good as well to slightly shade the fruit and keep it from getting too hot. Good idea!

Chaska, MN(Zone 4a)


Heres a pic of my "curing" squash... before I try to find a cool place for them.

Thumbnail by hillabeans Thumbnail by hillabeans
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Ha, I love the rack! I hate those wire racks but that might be just the thing...

It's about time for me to pick some of the butternuts and get them curing. Better stick it on the list for this weekend.

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