The Q&A Archives: Pumpkins

Question: I am a first time gardener, and planted watermelon, pumpkins, and squash together. There are lots of little things that I think are watermelon, at least they are shaped like a tiny watermelon. My husband says they are pumpkins. I started them inside in April and planted them outside in May. How do watermelons and pumkins look when they are growing? When do pumkins turn orange?

Answer: Since the plants you're growing are all vines, I understand your confusion! Sometimes you can tell what a plant is by looking at the leaves and finding the subtle differences. Other times you can't tell by the leaves at all! Try looking at the stem where the fruit is attached to the plant. Both summer squash and watermelons should have a round stem where it attaches to the fruit. Pumpkins can have a round stem, too, but usually will have a star-shaped attachment where the stem meets the fruit. Pumpkins won't begin to turn orange until they're mature; usually after a frost. This should be a good lesson for you - if you don't label your plants you won't know when to harvest. Summer squash is best when it's still small. If allowed to become overmature, the skin will be tough and the seeds will be large and hard, rather than tender and tasty. On the other hand, if you harvest watermelon too soon, it won't be sweet and juicy. Hope you can sort out the plants so you're able to harvest them when they're in their prime!

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