How to Grow Pumpkins In your Home Garden

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How to Grow Pumpkins In your Home Garden

How to Grow Pumpkins In you Home Garden
How to Grow Pumpkins In your Home Garden

Growing pumpkins is your own home gardening adventure! The end result is your own creation that you started from seed! While most varieties of pumpkins are fairly hardy, there are pointers that can help you produce a giant pumpkin sure to impress your family and friends when Halloween rolls around. Here is what you need to know about long growing season pumpkins for Halloween:

Starting Growing Pumpkins from Seeds

It is crucial to know when to start your seed in order to have fully grown pumpkins by Halloween.  Keep in mind that the earliest pumpkin starts are for Giant Pumpkins that require 150 days or more of growing time. Giant pumpkin growers time their starts for maximum growth in order to produce a world record fruit in time for the fall weigh-offs which run from early to mid-October. You should note that there is plenty of flexibility on the start date for other varieties. These can be timed to mature from September to October and can be started indoors or out. While fully mature pumpkins are particularly hardy, new growers should take note that pumpkins are tender annuals. Frost will kill them, and cold weather will stunt their growth. You should keep this in mind when starting your plants. Recommended “ideal” starting dates for your pumpkin plants are as follows:

  • Giant Pumpkins Start indoors from April 25 to May 15th Set outdoors after the first true leaves form. Provide cold and frost protection.
  • Field Pumpkins: Direct sow into the garden from May 15th to June 15th. Start indoors up to two weeks prior to setting outdoors Provide cold and frost protection.
  • Miniature Pumpkins: Direct sow into the garden from May 25th to July 1st. Start indoors up to two weeks prior to setting outdoors

How Many Pumpkins will you Get?

One pumpkin plant will normally produce three to five pumpkins. Miniature varieties have been known to produce up to a dozen or so. There will usually be several more female fruit, but some of them will not develop for a number of reasons. Keep in mind that if you are growing pumpkins for size and weight (giant pumpkins), you will eventually select one pumpkin and remove the rest from the vine. By doing this, you allow the plant to direct all of its energy into growing just that one pumpkin. It should be noted that a small number of growers keep a second fruit on the vine as an “insurance policy” in case disaster strikes the first fruit. You should understand however that this does not preclude the possibility that you can grow enormous pumpkins if you keep more than one on the vine.

Pumpkin Varieties

Bush, semi-shrub, or miniature pumpkin varieties are smaller and their sugars are often more concentrated than large pumpkins oriented more towards carving, winter storage, or county fair competitions. The result is sweeter meat that is ideal for cakes and other baked goods. Varieties to look for include Jackpot, around squash of 15 to 25 pounds, Bushkin and Spirit, two varieties that reach an intermediate weight of 8 to 15 pounds. Smaller varieties up to 2 to 5 pounds include Baby Bear, New England Pie, and Sugar Treat. Miniature varieties produce fruit weighing less than 2 pounds and include Jack-Be-Little and Sweetie Pie. Other pumpkin varieties that produce compact plants include Aspen, A&C Hybrid #300, Jack Of All Trades, and Harvest Moon.

Autumn Gold Bush Hybrid Pumpkin

Early Ripe Pumpkin? Yes, actually. In fact, considered semi-shrub, space-saving vines grow only 2-3 feet long, much shorter than many varieties of pumpkin. Golden soft and orange fruits ripen early and an average of 12 to 18 pounds. Perfect for lanterns and all your autumn decoration needs.

Adding Weight to your Pumpkin

If you so choose you can turn your everyday pumpkin into a giant pumpkin. You will need to fuel the growth of your fruit to produce the biggest pumpkins you have ever seen. Of special note is that in August, you also need to be diligent and guard against insects and plant disease, especially powdery mildew. Here are some additional tips for adding weight to your pumpkins:

  • Keep your patch well watered. This is a great way to get your kids involved. Turn over a small amount of soil and see if it is moist several inches down.
  • Adding a layer of compost feeds the plant and helps to retain soil moisture. It can also help to keep weeds down.
  • Keep in mind that big pumpkins have big appetites. Regular applications of fertilizer will yield the best results. Switch to a fertilizer that is high in potassium to really bump up the weight of your pumpkin.
  • Cover the pumpkin vines with garden soil. This will promote secondary root growth, and results in much bigger pumpkins.

Space pumpkin plants

Plant pumpkins in raised mounds 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) tall at least 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 cm) wide. Bigger, it’s better. At the top of the mound, you can remove an inch of land to build an edge around the hillock by creating a basin for watering. Space hills from 6 to 8 feet (1.8-2.4 m) away. Sow pumpkin seeds 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep. Sow 6 to 8 seeds on each hill. When seedlings are 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) tall, thin to 2 or 3 strongest seedlings. Cut thinned seedlings at ground level to avoid disturbing the roots of the remaining plants. Thinned seedlings should be spaced between 45 and 91 cm. Pumpkins growing in rows should be 24 inches (61 cm) apart and rows should be 6-10 feet (1.8-3 m) away. Growing 1 to 2 pumpkin plants per household member.

Pumpkins Fertilization

Pumpkin Fertilizer We have already established that pumpkin plants are heavy feeders. You will probably benefit by feeding your pumpkin patch a few times throughout the season. Before planting, you can always mix a little well-rotted compost or manure with the soil when creating the hills. After setting the plant, you can help him with a dose of fertilizer approximately every month, after the appearance of flowers. The fertilizer you use should be low in nitrogen and rich in phosphate and potassium. Fertilizer ratios 5-15-15 or 8-24-24 work better. If you use a fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, your pumpkin plants will become very large but will not produce much fruit.

If you use granular type fertilizer to feed pumpkins, pay attention to code number 3 on the fertilizer bag. These three figures indicate the amount of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium contained in this particular fertilizer, respectively. For example, a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potassium. A 5-10-10 bag would contain 5% nitrogen. One 10-5-10 bag contains 10% nitrogen, 5% phosphate and 10% potassium. When using granular fertilizer, apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually at the rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Spread the granules in the soil around the plant and water them well. Take care not to come into contact with the plant itself, as it can burn or have other side effects.

pumpkins Plants Irrigation

Different irrigation methods are commonly used to water pumpkins, each with different management considerations. Grooves, sprinklers, and drip irrigation are used for production. Groove irrigation is the most common but leads to large fluctuations in soil moisture, increased leaching of nutrients, and lower use of water. Spray irrigation can be effective, but it can lead to increased disease problems due to moisture in the foliage and increase weed pressure. Some growers use drip irrigation because it is a much more efficient water system, but the cost in relation to the value of the harvest may not be justified in any case. The benefits of drip include improved fertilizer management, reduced water consumption, better pest and weed control, and higher marketable yield. Regardless of which irrigation system is used, there are some basic principles to understand that will help ensure proper watering. This fact sheet will address these fundamental principles.

What Is Curing A Pumpkin?

After a short search online I found a site that explained curing pumpkins and rather than re-write it I have added it below with a credit link to the owner.

“Pumpkin fruits are cured at 80-85°F and 80-85 percent relative humidity for 10 days. This is done to prolong the postharvest life of the pumpkin fruit because during this process the fruit’s skin hardens, wounds heal and immature fruit ripens. After curing, the fruits can be sold to the customers and the remaining fruits stored.” Courtesy of Harvesting and Storing of Pumpkins, Winter Squash, and Gourds.

Happy growing Pumpkins

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