As you utter the word pumpkin, the first thought that comes into mind is that of Halloween. Apart from that, the fruit is associated with pies, headless horseman, fairytale coaches, and so on. Pumpkin is basically a gourd-like squash that ranges from oblong to oblate in shape. It has a thin rind that is usually smooth and lightly ribbed. Though pumpkins are generally orange or yellow in color, you might come across ones that are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red or gray on the outside. The best part is that you can easily start growing pumpkins at home also. In case you want to do the same, make use of the tips provided below.
How to Grow Pumpkins
- Pumpkin Plants or Seeds/ Seedlings
- Bypass Pruners
- Compost Makers
- Floating Row Covers
- Garden Spades
- Garden Trowels
- Seaweed Extract
- You can either buy pumpkin plants from nursery or get pumpkin seeds. In the latter case, you will need to sow the seeds indoors, around three weeks before the last expected frost. In case your growing season is long and warm, you can sow seeds directly in the garden. However, make sure that the soil temperature is not below 60 degrees F.
- For the purpose of putting in the seeds or plants, you need to zero in on the site and prepare the soil beforehand. The site should be such that it gets enough sunlight and also has soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. For preparing the soil, put in large amounts of compost and well-cured manure.
- The roots as well as the vines of a pumpkin can spread as far as 15 feet, in all directions. Make sure that you till the pumpkin patch deep and wide enough.
- After you are sure that the danger of frost has passed, it is the time to plant the sapling, whether bought from the nursery or grown inside, in the garden.
- Plant the sapling in hills, while making sure that they are atleast as deep in the garden soil as they were inside the pot. The general rule is to allow at least 5 feet between plants, in each direction.
- Once you feel that the plants have been properly established, so as to conserve moisture and deter weeds, it is the time to mulch them with organic matter.
- Make sure to protect young plants from chilly winds. For the purpose, you can make use of cloches or floating row covers.
- After planting the sapling, remember to water them every week, especially when they are still blooming and setting fruit. The amount of water should be 1 to 2 inches.
- Every 2-3 weeks, put compost tea or seaweed extract to the soil, to provide food to the plants.
- Once you see fruits appearing on the plants, pinch back the vines. This will limit their growth.
- Once in a while, make sure to rotate the pumpkins, without making the brittle vines break. This will help keep them symmetrical.
- When the pumpkins grow big enough, place boards under them, so as to prevent their rotting.
- Orange pumpkins should be harvested only after the vines shrink and die. However, make sure that it is before the first hard freeze settles in. In case of white pumpkins, cut them when their skins are still dotted with green.