Harvest Smarts – Squash, Pumpkin + Kumara

Please be patient my gardening friends! Don’t rush to harvest your squash and pumpkins. For sure, they look ready on the outside – but inside there’s still work to be done. The longer you leave them on the vine the deeper and richer the flesh gets.

The Quest For Sweet Squash and Pumpkins

queensland blue

I turned my pumpkins yesterday to expose the wet patch underneath to the sun and air and stuffed more mulch underneath. Rot is a tragedy we can easily avoid.

If you cannot turn your pumpkin because of a short stalk then brush any wet stuff/ slugs/ slaters off, and pile up dry stuff under their bums.

They look ready – fat and full and just like a bought one; but until the stalks have dried you’d best leave them a bit longer. We are on a quest for sweet pumpkin flesh. And though the vine is yellowing and looking as if it’s loosing it’s zest for life, the final, important stages of maturity are happening. The green rind beneath the skin turns yellow/ orange, the seeds ripen, the skin hardens and the flesh turns a deeper hue of orange. For the full expression you must wait till it’s done.

pumpkin harvest

When you deem your pumpkins ready, harvest them with the stalk on by cutting where the stalk meets what’s left of the vine. The stalk is key to storage – like a cork in a wine bottle, it’s sealing all the goodness in and keeping air and moisture out.

To go the full hog and develop the flesh to it’s sweet potential, cure your fruits for 3 or 4 weeks on a slatted surface, somewhere dry, dark and airy.

When To Harvest Kumara

A wheelbarrow full on the delicious New Zealand sweet potato, known as Kumara

Years of trial and error, in my dogged determination to grow a good kumara crop in our less than ideal conditions, have taught me to get my tubers up as early as possible. 120 days is the number they need from transplant to harvest.  

Eschew common advice to wait till the tops yellow and die – you’ll be waiting for winter whereby the tubers will be blemished or worse going mushy. All in all resulting in a short shelf life.

Cold soil and kumara are not friends. So once the 120 days are up, and the weather is dry – I get my kumara out of the ground and curing. 



  1. Gillian Silver says

    Thankyou so very much for sharing this.. I would have left them to yellow off !!! because we had rain this morning (yay to that) I will leave them a little longer then do exactly as you suggest. This year when I plant the new slips I will note the day in the calendar so I know when 120 days are up !!!
    You are The Best xx