Q How do I harvest and store my pumpkins and squash?
Mr E Harris, Swansea, S Wales
AA plant is unlikely to sustain more than three or four fruits, so remove excess earlier when the selected fruit are about golf ball-size. Place a piece of wood or tile beneath the fruit to keep them clean. Allow them to mature on the plant for as long as possible, but harvest before the frosts.
When they develop a tough skin, ring hollow when tapped, and have a deep, rich colour they’re ripe. Use secateurs to cut the stalk but leave it as long as possible and don’t use it as a handle for carrying as this damages the fruit. Cure them outdoors in the sun for about 10 days, but cover at night to protect from frost. Alternatively, cure in a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame. Over winter, store at 10-15C (50-60F), but check periodically for signs of rot. Squash will store through the winter, but pumpkins are unlikely to keep as long.
Let squash ripen on the plant for as long as possible