Pumpkins brighten a garden with their large yellow and orange fruit. Pumpkins belong to the genus Cucurbita, and the name has its origin in Greek, meaning ‘large melon’. Indeed, they are a close relative of the melons. Though there is no definite documentation on the origin of the pumpkin, it is generally believed to have originated in North America. Pumpkins are a staple in Halloween and thanksgiving festivities. During the Halloween, carving the pumpkin into jack-o-lantern is used as a traditional decorative item, and no thanksgiving is complete without the humble pumpkin pie. Almost the entire pumpkin is edible, with the seeds being a delicacy of the Native Americans. In America, there are pumpkin festivals and pumpkin sports that draw huge number of people, pumpkin farmers, and breeders. Giant pumpkins are grown through cross breeding, and the record is held by a 1725-pound Atlantic pumpkin. In the article below are tips on how you can grow pumpkins organically.
Organic Pumpkin Growing Tips
- First, select a place that is ideal for growing pumpkins. Pumpkins grow best in the sun; so, select a place, which is sunny. The soil should have a pH of 6.0 and the ideal temperature is about 60oF.
- Mix the soil with compost and see to that that the water gets drained easily. Sandy loam is also good for growing pumpkins.
- Nitrogen and potassium are essential for the growth of pumpkins. So, use aged manure mixed to the soil for growing pumpkins. Then add alfalfa or wood ash near the growth area, in moderation. Wood ash and alfalfa are a good source of potassium.
- Make soil mounds at least 5 feet apart and plant the pumpkins in each mound. The mound should be completely made with organic matter. Mounds ensure effective soil drainage. They can also be planted in rows, at least 6 feet apart.
- The seeds should be planted in groups of five, about two inches deep. Pumpkins require plenty of space so, the number of pumpkins you plant, should depend on the space you have. Ensure that no other plant grows near it and frequent weeding is a must.
- Pumpkins do not take to soil that is too wet. So, they do not need to be watered regularly. Watering them twice a week is enough, but make sure that the ground soaks up lots of it. When the fruits develop, water more infrequently.
- Place organic mulches around the pumpkin plant to stop the growth of weeds and also to warm up the soil.
- To protect the pumpkin from insects and pests, spray the plants with crushed neem leaf water. You can also cover the plant with floating row cover, which will protect the plants from insects and bugs. The cover must be removed during flowering so that pollination can take place. Crop rotations and also manures can protect the plant from contacting diseases.
- Squash vine borer creates havoc on the pumpkin plant. This pest bores a hole in the stem, two inches from the ground. To stop, take an aluminum foil, and wrap the foil round the stem, for about six inches.