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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 growing 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.
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.
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