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Location: north Italy (alps)

My mom has a corner in which she throws away garden/grass cuts and vegetables/fruit/plants scraps. By spring this will have (to some degree) turned to "earth", and we will then add it to the vegetable garden before planting new stuff.

Sometimes it happens that some leftover seed will sprout and grow into a plant - this year it's a pumpkin plant, but it's growing bit out of control! I'm not too worried about it taking over the lawn, as it's more weeds than lawn, so I hope it will die/dry up the underlaying grass//weed and have a clean slate to seed new lawn. However, it's starting to grow over the fence out into the street, into the balcony, and covering other plants.

The leaves and fruits are around 40cm/15in wide, the branches are many meters/feet long in multiple directions. The flowers look like zucchini to me, but most of them fall off after a while without developing into a fruit.

  1. What kind of pumpkin is this? How will I know when it's ripe and ready to harvest?
  2. As it's growing on the lawn instead of earth, should I be worried about it rotting if it gets too wet/humid? If so, how can I prevent this?
  3. How can I stop some of the branches from growing further? Can I just cut off the tip, or will this make the whole branch die, or branch out more?

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    I use tiles under each fruit to keep them dry to reduce rot. Sep 8 at 9:31
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I'm guessing that your mother cooks with what in the US we call a squash. It looks like it's a green striped cushaw (more info here) , but of course it could easily be a variety specific to your region of Italy. Cushaws are a winter squash and harvested when the rinds are hard. According to SF Gate:

  1. Look at your cushaw and determine if its color has completely developed. Many cushaws are a light to white-green or colored with darker green stripes that start at the neck and go lengthwise to the bottom of the fruit. Some cultivars are a light orange color with darker orange stripes.

  2. Feel its rind with your hands, gently squeezing or knocking on it with the tip of your finger. It should be hard, rather than soft.

  3. Measure the cushaw with a flexible measuring tape. They are typically 12 to 18 inches long from the top of crook to the bottom. They are also about 10 inches in diameter at their widest point. They should weigh 10 to 20 pounds.

To prevent rot, you could try elevating the fruits a bit. I grow melons, and put the fruits on old baking racks, window screens, or small pieces of fencing curved to form an arch; basically, anything to keep the fruit off the ground, keep rain from pooling around it, and provide airflow. The fencing is probably the easiest to make and is reusable for years.

In my experience with melons, cutting a stem will not cause the stem to branch more anywhere near the cut. It can cause the entire vine to die though, so I just redirect the vines with loosely buried garden staples. Not sure how that would work with your monster vine though - that is one happy squash!

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  • I think you may have identified my plant, thank you! But a silly question: what's the difference between squash and pumpkin? "squash" in both Italian and German translates to "pumpkin" .... Sep 7 at 13:48
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    It's a subtle difference, as squash, pumpkins, and gourds are all in the same botanical genus (Cucurbita). Botanically, it roughly breaks down to Cucurbita mixta (your plant: cushaw melon [also, Cushaw Pumpkin]), C. maxima (other winter squash), C. moshata (butternut squash), C. pepo: field pumpkih, zucchini, acorn squash, etc.. In the US, pumpkins are round/oblate, most often large, and typically orange (although other colors and sizes are now available).
    – Jurp
    Sep 7 at 14:08
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    Pumpkins are used as decoration, as soups, or as baked goods. Squash are typically baked or used in soups. Squash are most often used with or as a savory dish, while pumpkins are typically used as a sweet dish, although there are many regional and ethnic variations. To many Americans, pumpkins are decorative and squash are edible (although an acquired taste - I don't like to eat most types of squash, myself), although this does pumpkins a disservice.
    – Jurp
    Sep 7 at 14:10
  • Besides the obvious difference in shape, I understand it's more like a "technical" difference. Sep 7 at 14:12
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    Well, yes, there is a difference in species between some of the squashes and pumpkins, but botanically pumpkin and zucchini plants can cross and produce weird fruits, so I'd say it can be more of a regional difference. For example, the soft drink Coca-cola is called a "pop" in some parts of the US, while in others it's called a "soda". Same drink, just a different name. My answer should not have been so US-centric, so I've edited it. Thanks for the comments - I learned something new! :)
    – Jurp
    Sep 7 at 14:15

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