Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are incredibly simple to grow, making them an ideal first-time project. Small pumpkins can be used as a bird feeder or a nest by simply digging them up, letting them dry, painting them with a few coats of varnish and tying a loop of string.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds can be dried, painted with acrylics, and used by children to create art or jewelry. Growing pumpkins in your garden can be used to make great soups and pies, or simply roasted with olive oil and herbs, as you probably already know.
How to Grow and Harvest Pumpkin
Sow the seed and prepare the planting hole
The ideal time to start sowing is in May or early June. Angela Slater, gardening expert at Hayes Garden World, recommends sowing outdoors after the soil temperature has risen to 65 degrees F, then covering with a cloche. “Place three seeds in a row, then eliminate the weakest two. Sow them half an inch deep to the side,” advises Angela.
Give your pumpkin plenty of room to grow, ideally in well-drained, moisture-retaining soil in full sun but also sheltered from strong winds.
Angela recommends digging above the planting hole and adding a generous fork of well-rotted farmyard manure along with a handful of general-purpose fertilizer, such as Growmore.
“Create a small mound and place the pumpkin on it. This keeps water from pooling around the neck of the plant, preventing it from rotting. Pumpkins require a lot of space, about 20 square feet per plant, so spread them six feet apart. Push a 6” long piece of pipe or an old pot into the ground next to the plant to catch the water. This ensures that the water reaches the roots of the plant rather than to stay around her.
Can pumpkins be grown in containers?
Yes, anyone can grow pumpkins in pots, but they must be at least 18 inches deep and wide. Good quality peat-free compost, a fork of well-rotted manure at the bottom and a handful of Growmore added to the compost, according to Angela. However, Angela advises, “The problem with container growing is that you have to be extra careful about watering during hot spells; when they are actively growing they may need watering three times a day. “
Feeding and follow-up
To encourage the formation of flowers and fruits, feed every 10 days with a fertilizer rich in potash for tomatoes as soon as the first fruits appear.
To keep the fruits away from wet ground and prevent them from blackening on one side, place them on a bed of straw or a piece of tile. It is necessary to water them well. “If you want to grow prize-winning giants, remove all but one berry from each plant,” says Angela.
Harvest and storage
When the pumpkins have stopped growing and acquired a bright orange color, you need to pick them in September or October. Allow 10-14 days for the skin to cook and harden in a warm, sunny location. This means they will be less likely to rot over winter, which is essential if you plan to store them.
As for storing your pumpkins, store them somewhere frost-free over the winter and they will last three to six months.
Growing Pumpkins: Potential Problems
What if there is no fruit? When the temperature gets too cold, it can happen due to poor pollination. “They will be pollinated as soon as the weather warms up and you won’t get fruit until a little later than usual,” adds Angela.
Another problem is powdery mildew, which is caused by insufficient airflow and a stressed plant, such as letting it dry out. Angela also recommends keeping an eye out for botrytis (gray mold), a disorder caused by wet, damp conditions. If this happens, you should remove all infected parts and burn them, making sure to clean up any infected material that has fallen.
First published: June 16, 2022, 02:35 IST