Cucurbits for the Christmas Holidays and Beyond

Cucurbits for the Christmas Holidays and Beyond


Not all Cucurbits are created equal, especially when it comes
to the temperatures at which their seed likes to germinate.

If you’re planning your seasonal sowings, then Cucumbers would be the first to go in as they will germinate with a soil temperature from as low as 15°C. Next up would be your Zucchini, preferring 18°C plus, followed by Pumpkin, Summer and Winter Squash and Asian gourds, with Melons and Watermelons germinating best when temperatures are up around 20°C and all danger of frost has passed. Generally, this is closer to Labour Weekend in most parts of New Zealand. However, if you live in the South or Inland areas, add a week or so to that.


With Christmas just three months away, now is a great time to be sowing cucumber seed to guarantee fresh cucumbers to compliment your holiday salads and snacks. On average, a plant will take 80-90 days from sowing to when it starts fruiting and will keep producing for 3-4 weeks. If you want a continuous harvest right through into autumn, consider sowing a few seeds every 4 weeks; by the time one flush is finishing, the next is starting. This suggestion also applies to fast-growing Zucchini.


Pumpkin, Squash, Melons, Watermelons and Asian Gourds take one to two months longer to ripen so only one crop can be grown over summer.

Cucurbits with a vining habit don’t need to be grown on the ground. In fact, by growing vertically, up a trellis or other upright support, the plants will enjoy being healthier due to increased air circulation and the fruit will be longer, straighter and easier to harvest.


All Cucurbits prefer loose free draining soil, rich in well decomposed organic matter that maintains an even moisture level neither too wet or too dry. They need moderate nitrogen but good levels of phosphate, potassium and calcium, a balanced general fertilizer of 3.46 is preferable. Plant roots descend up to 30cm into soils if allowed to. It’s best to grow Cucurbits in fresh ground each year to avoid carry over of diseases especially mildews and other fungi...


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