Harvesting pumpkins

Pumpkvine.jpg
It’s about time to harvest pumpkins again. Our pumpkin vine this year was a volunteer that sprang up in the chook run from the remnants of an old compost heap. It didn’t get any TLC because we half expected the chooks to trample it before it became established. However, it defied the odds and performed magnificently – which only goes to show how good compost is for growing vegetables.
I think it was only watered once but it received plenty of rain during its growing period, and the vine has produced at least 14 JAP pumpkins that we have found so far. JAP pumpkin is closely related to butternut pumpkin, gramma and trombone squash (Cucurbita moschata). These are thinner skinned and don’t keep as long as the Queensland Blue types (C. maxima).
Because we couldn’t spare the water later year, we bought all our pumpkins and some of them weren’t the best because of the drought. Consequently, we were curious to see what we could expect from our volunteer plant and picked one of the pumpkins early. (As you can see in the photo below, the stem is still moist.) Pumpkins picked at this stage do not keep well but we are using this pumpkin immediately, so it doesn’t matter. Now that they are nearly ripe, we will put a broken piece of foam box or thick cardboard under each fruit to keep them drier and clear of the ground, so they are less likely to rot. We will be leaving the rest of the crop until the vine dies off, and the stems become brittle, as that is when they develop their full flavour and store well. If you can’t wait that long, at least wait until the tendril closest to each pumpkin browns off.
Don’t worry about frost on your pumpkins, it will only kill the vines, and it is said that frost toughens the skins so that pumpkins keep longer.
P.S. When the vines had died back a bit, we realised that the vine had produced 28 pumpkins. Not bad for a volunteer vine! There were, of course, more than enough to supply family and friends, and we were able to sell the rest through our local organic greengrocer.
Japcut.jpg

50 thoughts on “Harvesting pumpkins

  1. Is that a Jap pumpkin or a Kent? I can never tell the difference since the supermarket lable them “Kent” but looks very much like the one you’ve labelled “Jap”.

    How do you tell the difference? I received a pumpkin as a gift and have kept some of the seed for next year. It looks like the one in your photo. I have labelled the seed “Kent” based on the one I saw in the supermarket.

    Guidance in the differences (if any) would be appreciated.

  2. I haven’t heard of a Kent pumpkin, Christine. Perhaps it is a hybrid or the shop may think it’s more P.C. to call them that – but it is commonly called Jap pumpkin in our area. Japanese pumpkin is Cucurbita mixta. It did belong to the same group as the Gramma and Butternut but has a classification of its own, now. It is a delicious variety of pumpkin, rich in beta-carotene, but does not keep as long as the hard-skinned varieties. You can tell if it is the same type by the seeds. They are long and flat, with a deep groove around the edge.

  3. After inspecting the seed, it is a Japanese variety. They are flat, longish and the edges look like they’ve been pressed all around.

    Thinking about it now, I don’t think I’ve seen a “Jap” labelled in the supermarket for a while.

  4. I’m newly arrived in Australia and I’ve been wondering about this label – “Jap” pumpkin. It’s ubiquitous in the marketplace and in cookbooks, yet I don’t see this adjective used anyhwere else.

    Food magazines and newspapers don’t refer to Jap recipes, Jap restaurants, Jap cars, Jap goods, Jap politicians, or Jap tourists.

    Since the term has fallen out of favour in all other usage, why does it persist as this one adjective? It was quite shocking the first few times I saw it. I’d heard the Australians were still a little backward about this kind of thing, but I didn’t believe it until the first time I went to the market.

  5. Elaine, your question has prompted me to do a little research on the subject. This variety of pumpkin should be written as ‘JAP’ because it is an acronym of ‘Just A Pumpkin’ – the title given to it by the farmer who discovered it. It is also now known as ‘Kent’ but none of my open-pollinated seed catalogues list it under that name. This variety has been grown in the USA since the 1860′s and is more suited to growing in warm areas.
    Pumpkins freely cross-pollinate within their own species and variations in form do occur. ‘JAP’/Kent’ belongs to the gramma and trombone group (Cucurbita moschata). Clearly, one of its parents is the ‘Windsor Black’ pumpkin, which has deep orange flesh, similar markings on its very dark green skin, and the typical flanged, five-sided stem of the moschata species, but it is not a hybrid because it reproduces true-to-type from seed.
    The Seed Savers’ Handbook lists “Japanese pumpkins” as Cucurbita mixta and states that they have long, flat seeds that are heavily grooved, and describes the seeds as grey and gritty. The seeds of the ‘JAP’/'Kent’ variety we have purchased and harvested have heavily grooved edges, but they are smooth, creamy-coloured, and have a typical “tear drop” pumpkin seed shape, so they are quite different to the so-called Japanese pumpkins.

  6. Thanks for the extra research and info Lyn. No more a mystery – I know the difference between “Just a Pumpkin” (Cucurbita moschata) and the Japanese variety of pumkin (Cucurbita mixta).

  7. I never take offence when i’m called an ozzy, or my parents brits or poms, it can be a term of endearment not just an insult. We are all far too politically correct and oversensitive these days…

  8. Hi all,

    I just came across this website in my quest for pumpkins, as I happen to be doing research on this so called ‘JAP/Kent’ Type.

    Lyn, your info on the name of this pumpkin is VERY interesting and I’d like to reference it, but wonder if you could tell my where you sought your information from (e.g. what farmer discovered/named this pumpkin, the difference between JAP and Japanese)? It would help me out enormously with this research I’m doing, as there has been a bit of confusion in the market about the naming of this pumpkin.

    My email is chloekeeble@gmail.com I’d love to discuss all things pumpkin-related if you would be so kind :)

  9. hi can someone please tell me why alot of my butternut pumpkins are going black on the vine at a very early stage like 10to 15 cm in size.

  10. Kevin, this is a common problem. I’ve written a separate post on New Year’s Eve to cover it. See “Squash, melon and cucumber problems”.

  11. Can you tell me when or how to tell when my gramma is ready for picking?

    Gramma are usually harvested when the vine dies off or, if you can’t wait, when the stem becomes dry and brittle. Until this happens, try to keep the gramma fruits clear of the ground by putting a piece of foam fruit box under them. This keeps the fruit dry and less likely to be attacked by slaters, etc. – Lyn

  12. Thanks for the info, first time we have grown Gramma,
    should be interesting to see it goes.

  13. Hi i am growing pumpkins but they are supposed to be ripe when they are green but i don’t know when to pick them
    Pumpkins are usually harvested when the vines die off, otherwise they are more likely to rot in storage. If you want to use one immediately, you can harvest it when the tendril closest to the fruit dies, and the stem is dry and brittle. – Lyn

  14. Has anyone ever heard of a RHINO Gramma? I sourced some seed from one of the seed merchants about five years ago. some of the fruit had the shape of a gramma but the majority of the yield had the appearance of a very long necked butternut pumpkin. The skin looked exactly the same as a “Kent” pumpkin. I cannot remember the name of the seed merchant, and I have not seen Rhino Grammas advertised since. The fruit had a beautiful gramma taste and the size of the fruit was not overly big like the usual golden trombone gramma. Help somebody!!!

    It sounds like a Cushaw squash Peter, but the best people to ask would be the seed merchants. The vegetables we call pumpkins are known as squash in the US. Trombone squash, Butternut and Kent pumpkins are all closely related and cross-pollination is common among this group, but they don’t cross with the Cucurbita maxima group.

  15. I have a Jap volunteer in the garden (never heard that term before). This article has hit the nail on the head for me as I was wondering how to tell when to pick them. Thanks Lyn.
    At the moment we have about five large pumpkins on the vine and multiple beginners. We live in North Queensland and have just had alot of rain over the last few months. I have cut up a rubber mat that is mostly holes to place under each one to ensure the ground doesn’t take its toll. Its surprising how fast they grow from a tennis ball size to about the size of a volley ball in a matter of 3 or 4 days.
    I have been given some seeds for a black pumpkin – not sure if we should put them in the ground now or should I wait till the next summer rains?

    As I’ve said in the post above, pumpkins are usually harvested when the vines die off – as they keep better when the stem has dried out. However, if you want to try one and are going to use it immediately, it can be harvested when the tendril closest to the fruit browns and shrivels. At this stage though, the stem is usually still green as you can see in the photo.
    Jerome, if you can provide the irrigation, you should be able to grow pumpkins quite well through the cooler months in North Queensland. If you are a moon planter, sow after April 3rd to get them off to a flying start – and don’t forget, – lots of compost. – Lyn

  16. Have you any special cleaning formula for the pumpkins which have been nibbled by worms or slaters and broken the skin/laid eggs………….I know these will have to be the first to be eaten!

    Once the skin is broken Mary, the pumpkins stop ripening, and may start to rot very quickly. If there is minor damage, and the rest of the pumpkin is healthy, just cut away the damaged section. As our pumpkins start to touch the ground (or mulch), we put pieces of foam vege boxes under each pumpkin to keep the base of the pumpkins aerated and dry. They are more likely to be attacked by pests where they stay in contact with moist soil or wet mulch. Cardboard under pumpkins can get too wet and it also provides food for slaters, so it can encourage slate damage, whereas the polystyrene foam stays dry. – Lyn

  17. I’ve come across this site while searching for information on “Grammas” and specifically “Trombone Grammas”. Long story, short I recent returned to the family home-town of Taree NSW where my cousin cooked Jap Pumpkin for desert and for all the world it tasted like the gramma of my childhood. So, now I’m back in Perth WA I’ve just bought and cooked up some Jap pumpkin and while it tastes nice but it tastes like pumpkin?!?!
    Any Sand-Gropers (West Australians) know where we can source true Trombone Gramma here in the West or am I doomed to mere memories. – John
    PS. This is the same state where Jam Melons are referred to as Pig Food! (but I still love it here).

    Coincidence! The JAP pumpkins in this post were grown just a few km south of Taree. I too have noticed a variation in texture in JAP pumpkins from different sources. Some firmer – others softer and sweeter. They used to be classified as the same species as gramma. Regarding a source for the trombone seed, have you tried Eshcol Springs, John?
    Eshcol Springs Pty Ltd
    PO Box 61 Gingin WA 6503
    PH (08) 9575722 Fax (08) 95757622
    e-mail: barryat@telstra.easymail.com.au

  18. Thanks Barry for the seed info I’ll give them a try. I also keep an eye out for roadside sellers when on country runs which is where we got the Jap in Taree, a local farmer selling surplus from a trailer on the verge with the honesty box. John

  19. I have a pumpkin whose skin has some puncture marks from a bird (I suppose). The skin bounces back if I press my fingernail lightly into it and it sounds hollow when I give it a good tap. Should I pick it now in case it starts to decay? Its stem is hard. and a bit less fresh than the one in the picture on your page.
    Lyn, it sounds as though the decay has already started if the skin has some give in it. Healthy pumpkin flesh is very firm. I guess cutting it to see if the decay is localised would be best. You could be lucky. At this time of year, pumpkins are usually close to maturity so you may be able to use the undamaged portion if you cook it immediately. However, this pumpkin won’t keep. – Lyn

  20. JAP pumpkin is not short for Japanese, it is short for Just Another Pumpkin

    Jan Evans, Brisbane

  21. Nothing to add but what a great lot of info for me. I have renewed confidence in my compost driven vine that has taken up half the backyard. Cheers all involved.

  22. I have picked my jap pumpkin too early. Can I cook it or do I throw it out?– Jan

    Jan, it depends how early you picked it. If the tendril closest to the pumpkin has dried off, you can use it immediately but it won’t keep. However, the only way to see if it is ripe enough to use is to cut it, and if it looks ok, cook some and taste it. – Lyn

  23. Hi all, I’m new to Brisbane this year and still finding the seasons a little tricky (after Melbourne’s distinct cold-wet/hot-dry). I have had self seeded pumpkin vines growing all over my back yard for months with ALL MALE flowers sprouting up over the last 6weeks. Now, confusingly, when the weather is getting cooler and frosts are starting, female flowers are appearing with lovely little buds at their bases. I have been told to give them a little helping hand with fertilising once they open? We also give the vine lots of water from the washing machine (green freindly). Is it normal to have pumpkins appearing at this time of year? Should I expect them to ripen by about september? Thanks!
    Pumpkins grow during the cooler months further north Louisa but, if you have a garden that traps warmth in winter, your pumpkins could produce a crop for you but they may take longer than they do in warmer months – so be patient. If you do not have plenty of bees around in winter, you may have to hand pollinate the female flowers by carefully removing the petals of some male flowers, and gently tickling the centre of the female flowers with the stamen of the male flower.
    Pumpkin vines are very thirsty and hungry plants. Because your vines are self-seeded, they may have not grown in soil that is fertile enough for them to produce mature fruit. Put as much compost as you can around the base of each plant and cover it thickly with mulch. If your soil is on the acidic side, water in around each plant a handful of agricultural lime dissolved in a full watering can. If soil is too acidic at flowering time, baby pumpkins will turn yellow and go soft. – Lyn

  24. Hello Lyn and All, I’m from the US and have also been intrigued by the Kent/JAP Pumpkin. It’s delicious, but looks nothing like what we could call a pumpkin, which is firmer and orange on the outside. Is it the same thing we would refer to as a Butternut Squash? I’m not a grower and have only consumed Butternut-embarassingly I don’t think I have ever seen one in the whole, raw form. Anyhow, just trying to sort out this curious little difference-just one of many minor discrepancies in our cultures/vocabularies. Cheers-Carrie

    Carrie, the vegetables we call pumpkins are the ones you call winter squash. JAP pumpkin has a similar flavour to butternut, but looks nothing like it. Butternut has a yellow to pale orange skin and is shaped like a cylinder or elongated pear. JAP pumpkin is similar in looks to the ‘Kent’ or ‘Windsor Black’ pumpkins that have been grown in the United States. – Lyn

  25. Could you please advise how long Jap pumpkins wil keep in storage. I’m growing in the Adelaide Hills so do get frost in midwinter.
    JAP pumpkins are not particularly good keepers, Chris. They have fairly thin skins and moister flesh than the dry varieties that are good keepers. For best keeping, they should not be picked before they are fully mature, i.e. when the vine dies off. We put a piece of foam box under each pumpkin as it is developing. This keeps the fruit clear of the soil and prevents slater and other insect damage. It also helps air circulation around the fruit. After harvest, usually late April-May, we place the pumpkins in a cool spot with good air circulation. The amount of sunlight they get as the vine dies off is sufficient to cure the skins.
    As for a keeping time, I can’t enlighten you on that as we share our crop with friends and family, and sell the rest over a few weeks. – Lyn

  26. Hi
    Anyone know where I can buy some Windsor Black pumpkin seeds? I used to grow them when I was a kid (a long time ago!) but I haven’t seen them around for years.

  27. Hi great reading your post and commets my question is i had about 20 pumpkins grow on one plant i have left them on the vine until it had gone brown the slates did get to some of them and reading everyones post i now know what to do next year anyway my pumpkins i have cut open are pale and not really hollow seeds are little and i have bought jap pumpkins from the shops and they are darker yellow and sweet is it that i didnt water enough or that i should leave them to ripen or is it because the slaters got to them and is there any natural products that gets rid of slaters and slugs and snails hope to hear from someone as im a first time gardener and i love it and would like to know what to do next year thanks Lindy:)

    Hi Lindy, when skin of pumpkins is broken by insects, birds or mice, it can affect their maturity and it sounds from your description of the seeds that the interior of the pumpkins are immature, even though the vines have browned. You may notice streaks on the pumpkin in the photo above. They are chook scratches that occurred when the pumpkin was very small and the plant has been able to produce scar tissue to seal the skin again. But, I’ve noticed, when pumpkins are damaged at a later time, the plant does not seem able to repair the damage and maturation is affected.
    However, if all of the pumpkins are pale, including the ones that have not been damaged, it may just be the seed that produced the vine. I’ve noticed in fruit shops that cut pumpkins can vary a great deal in colour. Always save seed from the best pumpkins for next season to maintain quality.

    You can find a treatment for slaters here, and treatments for other pumpkin pests in the ‘Pest-free Garden’ category on this blog. To be on the safe side next year, remember to keep the pumpkin ‘fruits’ off damp soil and give your pumpkin vine plenty of compost and regular watering because they produce a lot of foliage for one root ball. – Lyn

  28. hi I may have some Windsor black seeds later in the year. I have planted a couple of seeds have to wait for them to fruit and mature. about mid May. I sell on eBay buy 5 packets your choice receive 2 packets free. watch this site about July August. Syl.
    Thanks for your help, Sylvia. – Lyn

  29. What’s this about ‘tendril closest to the pumpkin’ ? Do they, surely they, mean the tendril the pumpkin is growing on? And 20+ pumpkins on one vine? We’ve got two Queenland Blue vines and each one has only 3 fruit. Does this mean they are just about total failure vines? And all the fruit are large, hard and healthy looking. Could we pick them now? What harm in picking early? Read somewhere pick when the stem cracks. Does this mean when it is swollen large enough that it develops white lines in it or does it mean when it really cracks open and develops fissures in it? Same question again: what harm if we pick early, like now?

    Arthur, tendrils are the thin, curly growths that vines use to hang on to things for support. You will find them on vines of the gourd family (including pumpkins), grapes, passionfruit, peas, etc. If you want to store pumpkins for later use, it is best to harvest as the vine is dying off and the stem cracking is a sign that less moisture is reaching the fruit. If you pick pumpkins too early the only harm is that they will go soft in storage, and the flesh could be pale and without much flavour. With so much rain around in some parts of Australia, it is a good idea to place each pumpkin on a piece of foam box or something similar so that it is not continually in contact with wet soil.
    It is not unusual for pumpkins to produce less pumpkins per vine. The exceptional vigour of the vine in this post was due to the roots having a good supply of compost and, as the chooks kept the soil free of weeds, the vine was able to grow a lot of extra roots along the stems to provide more moisture and nutrients for the large amount of foliage pumpkin vines produce – hence more pumpkins. – Lyn

  30. Our compost has also delivered a japla pumpkin this year – so far about 6 are starting to plump. Fingers crossed for a reasonable crop

  31. My mother used to work in a greengrocers in the 50′s and 60′s and the ‘JAP’ pumpkin was actually shortened version of ‘JAPLA’ pumpkin. Also before the supermarkets started to have Kent pumpkins they also had Japla pumpkins which is related to Kent but the markings are slightly different.

  32. It is now the end of March in Melb, Australia and i don’t know whether to keep watering the vine or let it die off?? I am very excited to have at least 6 pumpins growing. I love my compost.
    Christine, I understand your excitement at having grown 6 lovely pumpkins. However, you haven’t said which type of pumpkins you have or when they were planted, so it is not easy to be precise. Pumpkins for storage keep better if not picked until the vine has died back. If you want some to eat soon, your pumpkins are ready to pick when the curly tendril nearest the pumpkin turns brown. Vines start to die off when the pumpkins have produced mature seed. I wouldn’t let the soil dry out completely, in case they are not yet mature, but they probably don’t need a lot of water at this stage. – Lyn

  33. I have Japanese pumpkin growing out of my compost as well, however, something just took some really big bites out of one of them last night; does anyone know of a way to keep the critters away from them?

    Sounds like it could be rats or bandicoots, etc. – depending on where you live. I have never had this problem. We put a piece of foam box under ours to keep the bases dry. This also deters things like slaters and mice from nibbling at the base, but don’t know how to stop larger critters with sharp teeth..
    Any ideas to help Raechelle with this problem?

  34. Hey-dee-ho there :-) FYI… JAP Pumpkins were actually named by a regular farmer whom had one just pop up in his crop one day and called it thus because it was Just Another Pumpkin (JAP) :-)

    That’s what I was told too, Kylie. They look as though a parent variety could be ‘Kent’ or ‘Windsor Black’. – Lyn

  35. My dog ripped some pumpkins off the vine today will they be edible when pick early? One is the size of a soccor ball and the other is half that but the skin isn’t as defined as the larger pumpkin. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    What a shame after all your work. Sounds like he needs more toys, or maybe he was after some small creature hiding in the vine. You haven’t said which type of pumpkin they are, Amelia. If the vine is starting to die off, or if the little curling tendril closest to the pumpkin has browned off, they may be ok for immediate use. However, they won’t develop ripeness once removed from the vine, so the only way to find out is to cut the large one when ready to use it. If the flesh is very pale, it is unripe and will be pretty tasteless. The one with the skin not properly formed probably won’t be worth eating.

  36. all my pumpkins have lots of seeds and very little flesh ….Queensland Blue variety …was it the seeds or is there something I can do next year to fix this problem

    Karen, your question required a fairly long answer so I’ve answered it as a separate post. See Pumpkin problems – Lyn

  37. Any leads on Windsor black seeds? My 80 year old day is very keen to revisit the pumpkins of his childhood

  38. Our compost bin has just started to grow pumpkins, & Iwas surfing the net for advice when I saw this article. Thanks Lyn.

  39. Is it a Jap, is it a Kent is it a Joker a Jackeroo or a Ken? simple! If I may explain Japanese was probably the original variety. Chave enterprises of Bundaberg in Queensland bred off it, about 4 improved varieties; firstly ‘Joker’ followed by Kent & Ken Special, as I understand by talking to show pumpkin Judges the Original Japanese is smaller & rounder with pronounced ribbing, the Kent is a larger improved Japanese that is flatter wheel shaped, still with some grooving but not as deep. Ken’s Special is larger with only light grooving and almost none. Jackeroo is not as flat as Kent & Ken Special is more rounder & can grow really heavy grown under the right conditions, can win the heaviest Japanese type. Followed closely By Ken special. Chave Enterprises became BeeMart enterprizes in Bundaberg, last I heard they were still operating as such. Did you know that there are over 250 different Pumpkin & winter squash types of pumpkins? did you Know there are many other types of Japanese pumpkins as well Like the gold the black(‘Black Belt’) Chestnut & sweet Chestnut. & Kabocha just to mention a few that come to mind. Sylvia KenMart Pumpkins.

  40. I too have had “volunteer” pumpkins grow in my mulch patch. I’d never grown pumpkins before so didn’t know what they were until fruit appeared. It’s been really exciting watching them grow without any help! I’ve counted 7 quite large pumpkins and they look like jap to me. No-one mentioned to me that the leaf stalks have fine hair like prickles either! Found that out the hard way! A couple of the pumpkins a quite large but the vine hasn’t shown signs of dying off yet so I’m not going to touch them just yet. I do, however like the idea of putting a piece of foam under them to get them off the ground and stop any potential rot.

  41. I have just harvested 5 nice JAP/Kent pumkins. I thought I’d make some pumpkin soup and when I cut the pumkin open the flesh was quite creamy coloured as if it wasn’t ripe. I have left the required stem on the rest. Will they change colour as they harden off?
    PS The soup tasted fine even though it looks a little on the pale side.

    No, Ewen, I think you picked them too soon or the soil was too dry. Pumpkins are best harvested when the vines die off or, if you are going to use a pumpkin straight away, once the tendril closest to the pumpkin has died off. As your soup tastes fine, you could always add 1 teaspoon or so of turmeric to the soup to improve the colour. Turmeric is very good for you. – Lyn

  42. I read a few comments so sorry if this has been mentioned.

    A JAP is easy to cut up, has super-edible skin and I always leave it on. A dark green Japanese pumpkin is, unlike a JAP, really hard to cut up and the skin isn’t to my taste. I don’t like it for soup but I do like it for pumpkin fruitcake.

    On the weekend I bought a pumpkin like the one in the photo from some Japanese farmers. I thought it might be awkward if I asked if it was a JAP. The farmer said it was a Kent. I hope they are the same thing.

  43. I agree with comment 45: The colour of the flesh might just be a result of the nutrients, water or Ph in the soil.

  44. The term “JAP” pumkin came from a green grocer who didn’t have room to write “JAPANESE PUMPKIN” on his blackboard.It’s as simple as that.
    Thanks for that clarification. it is interesting how the name on a sign from one greengrocer has spread so widely. – Lyn

  45. I have just grown a Jap vine and it is very healthy looking and in the patch I put some Stable Poo. But when my Pumpkin’s get to about the size of a 50 cents they went rotten up near the flower and some turn yellow and just drop off. I have lifted them up off the grown but still the same thing happen. I spray for fruit fly but still no luck. Could this problem be lack of water? As we are having a bit of a dry spell. I have also self pollenated some but still the same problem. Could some one help me with this. I live in the hinterland on the Sunshine Coast. Also when is a good time too plant. Many thanks. Kerry

    Hi Kerry, It is very frustrating when this happens. Your pumpkins have a calcium deficiency. Just as we need calcium to form a strong skeleton for support, plants need enough calcium to form firm skins to enclose their ‘fruits’. It can occur in pumpkins, zucchini, and other members of the gourd family. In tomatoes, it is called ‘blossom end rot’.
    There are several causes of calcium deficiency:
    1) Your soil may not contain enough calcium (common where soil has high magnesium content as in some parts of SE Qld.),
    2) Soil pH controls the availability of nutrients to plants. If soil is too acidic, calcium becomes locked-up and plants can’t absorb it. (Cow and horse manure tend to be acidic).
    3) Plants can only absorb nutrients as water-soluble, electrically-charged particles. When water is in short supply, they go short of nutrients when needed.
    That’s why you often see healthy pumpkin vines growing in compost heaps. Compost is electrically-charged too, and is able to hold the nutrients where plant roots can reach them.

    I’d advise watering some agricultural lime (one handful per full watering can per square metre of bed) rather than dolomite in your particular area. Test the soil pH after 3 weeks and, if it is below 6.2, apply lime again. Reasonally-priced pH test kits are available from many nurseries. I would also give the plant foliage a feed of seaweed extract tea at the directed rate. Your soil could also be low in potassium and the potassium in seaweed helps to strengthen cell walls. Keep watering regularly. See: “Squash, melon and cucumber problems” – Lyn

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