All winter squash should be harvested after the first light frost in our growing area. To harvest winter squash, cut them from the vine leaving a 3 to 4 inch stem on each fruit. Cutting the stem too short or breaking it off may cause problems during winter storage. Most of our growing area is quite dry, but if there is a lot of moisture in the air or the fruits are muddy, you will want to wipe them down with an inexpensive, bacteria prohibiting “wash.” Mix a gallon of cool water with a tablespoon or two of white vinegar. Dip your cloth in the solution and then wring it out until almost dry and carefully wipe any debris from your squash.
When you cut the pumpkins from the vine leave a nice handle for lifting them.
Pumpkins and squash have a firm rind, but they still benefit from “curing”. After cutting them from the vine, dry them in the sun for a few days. Remove them to a warm garage, covered patio, porch or barn. Allowing them to dry cure in a well ventilated area for up to 20 days will increase their sugar content and prolong their storage life. Store in a cool –but not cold- dry place with good air circulation.
It’s best to put the spent vines in the trash vs composting in case they are harboring diseases and insects. In winter, the compost pile may not get “hot” enough to dispense with the uglies and the bugglies.