In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I am getting more calm as the rest of the country gets revved up. It is my extra busy time from October 1-Thanksgiving. It is the time of year when squash/pumpkin production isn’t terribly high in Hawaii, but the demand suddenly is. It is also the time when we all want to think in terms of comfort food, pumpkin patches and family gatherings. But with a tough Summer behind us, I am grateful that my preventative steps helped in the patch.
October was an intense month where some days, all I could do was just continue to believe that my actions would prevail, and the harvest would come. It did. The Summer was a sluggish season where Winter rains came in June. There was flooding when there should have been long hot days. Many farmers felt like disappointments, when really, it was one of the toughest seasons all across the country. Even in the darker moments, when the seasons flip, and hurricanes come one after the next, I always feel that there is something that you can do. The weather is not your fault, but we need to continue to search for ways to minimize loss.
I got a call from more than one farm across the state that noted that their pumpkins were rotting on the ground. My answer was simple: get them up off the ground. For many this seemed like a time consuming act, but for me, loosing your entire crop isn’t an option. I recommend that as the pumpkins fruit, take a piece of untreated lumber and slip it under the fruit. It will cause the sow bugs/rollie pollies to go under the wood rather than destroy the skin of your squash. It will also keep the squash from sitting on wet ground, and reduce the likelihood of rot. I have had many people say how time consuming it is, so here is my method and maybe it can work for you. Keep stacks of scrap wood at intervals near the edge of your patch. As they fruit, carry a few squares of wood under your arm, and slip them under the new fruits as you see them. This time of year, squash in Hawaii is just starting to take off, but Winter rains are also heading our way. It is a great practice that has allowed me to loose no fruits to ground rot. It also keeps the skin display perfect, while you are making a mental note of which of your vines are producing.
The pumpkins may roll off the blocks as they grow. I simply check on them once in a while and replace them or add a second block if the squash is a really large one. After harvesting, the block gets collected, dried in the sun and used again for another squash. Try it out and see how it works for you. You never know what the weather is going to bring, and this way, you are ready. You can still “block” the fruits even mid or late season. You can even do it when the field is flooding. Any action, no matter how late, is better than none.