Pumpkins signal the autumn season and you know what that means…Halloween! Want to know how to grow pumpkins for your porch or to eat?
Not only are pumpkins great for the spooky time of year when they’re carved into jack-o-lanterns, but they’re also healthy and nutritious.
Whether you plan to add them to your décor or for a tasty meal, pumpkins won’t dishearten your good spirits.
Here’s a grand opportunity for you to grow and harvest your very own!
The kids will love the patterns they’ll make, and even better, you’ll be able to devour a pumpkin recipe with ingredients from your very own garden. How refreshing that’ll be!
This guide will help you understand how to plant, harvest, and care for pumpkins.
How to Grow Pumpkins:
There are pumpkins of different shapes, sizes and colors. Before you grab a packet of seeds consider the type of pumpkin that you want to grow.
After gathering your seeds, you won’t just be able to plant them immediately. You need to assess the temperature to determine when to plant them.
Pumpkins are not exactly fans of the cold so bear that in mind. The soil needs to be warm.
The frost must pass and the dirt in your garden should be between 65˚ and 95˚ F.
The soil pH should be around 6.0 to 6.8, and if the soil temperature is at 70˚ F your seedling will reveal itself. This normally happens within 5 to 20 days.
If you live in a country that has a cool climate here’s what you should do. Keep the soil warm a week prior to planting your seeds by using black plastic to cover the ground.
As the soil temperature increases due to trapped heat, you can puncture the plastic by making little holes and planting 5 seeds 1 inch deep in each area.
Plant them in at a location that receives hours of sunlight per day and less shade. If your intention is to grow flowers for Halloween, then you should plant the seeds in July.
Another great idea is to plant the seeds in mounds or hills at least 4 feet apart. Unlike being planted flatly on the ground, there is better drainage and the soil heats faster.
Ensure to dig the hills 12 to 15 inches deep. Create rows and sow the seeds 6 to 10 inches apart. As the sprouts grow to a 3-inch height thin them to one plant each 18 to 36 inches.
The vines of pumpkins can run very wild. To direct them out of your garden like a traffic warden directing bad traffic, plant them closer to the end of your garden.
This way as the vine grows, they’ll head to the outside, and not become entangled and dally the growth of other veggies.
Caring for Pumpkins
Never forget to water the soil. Early mornings or late afternoons are the best times to do this.
Most vegetables need at least an inch of water per week. If there’s frequent rainfall in the area where you live well that would be completely different.
Pumpkins are heavy feeders so add compost to your soil for nutrients and it’ll help to retain moisture so water doesn’t evaporate quickly.
Gardeners often use a drip system or hose to pour enough water without damaging the foliage.
If the foliage is extra wet, it’s more likely to attract fungus and mildew. In most cases, the remaining leaves on the vines will dry up and die which you should definitely avoid.
If you’d like to harvest way more pumpkins this year, here’s a tip. Cut all the female flowers for the first three weeks of growth. You can identify them by the bulge at the bottom of the flower.
While weeding your garden, be gentle as you do, because pumpkins have shallow roots.
By yanking at weeds too hard, the vegetable plant roots may pop their way out before the right time.
Instead of using insecticide to get rid of insects try row covers. It’s effective but be reminded that you’ll need to remove it before the vines start to bloom to encourage pollination.
As the pumpkins grow, carefully turn them to even out their full form. It’s not uncommon for the leaves to hide some of the pumpkins as they develop.
Because of this, few might rot in the soil and to avoid this, slide a piece of plastic or board under it for protection.
Harvesting pumpkins is the fun part.
Examine your garden and the weather before deciding when it’s time to reap. The day should be dry and the skin should be very tough. Also, the plant of the pumpkin should have already perished.
You’ll know when the pumpkin is ripening and fit to pick once the skin color changes to a solid color and the stem is hard.
Use your finger to knock it lightly. The skin should feel hard and make a hollow sound.
Do not be tempted to rip the vine to remove the pumpkin. Use a sharp knife to cut one inch away from the stem.
Say you’ve just reaped a super-sized pumpkin and you’re super excited about it. Considering that you want that excitement to last, do hold it by the stem.
If you hold it by the stem and it breaks the pumpkin will not store healthy. Instead, carry the pumpkin by sliding your hand under the base and lifting it.
Do not reap the pumpkin because it has reached the size and color you want. It’s best to wait until it’s actually fit for harvesting.
If your goal is to get a smaller or larger pumpkin, as you continue to the end of this post, you’ll see the different types.
Before storing pumpkins, they need to be cured. Place the ones you intend to store in the sun for 10 to 14 days while the temperature is between 80˚ to 85˚ F.
The skin will become even more hardened, it’ll be tastier and the stem will be sealed.
If the night turns out to be frosty during those 14 days, use a thick blanket to cover the pumpkins or store them in your shed at 50˚ to 55˚ F.
After they have been cured, store them in a cool place and they’ll be usable for 2 to 3 months.
As time passes and you make the best use of your pumpkins, you’ll want to save the seeds. If stored properly they can last approximately 6 years.
Pumpkin Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases are two things you can’t get rid of entirely in gardening.
Like growing many other vegetables, pumpkins are susceptible to the threat of several unwanted dangers. Let’s review a few:
- Anthracnose is a fungus and once it has affected the pumpkin patch there are general symptoms to confirm.
The leaves will develop spots. The black, yellow, brown and purple colors are quite visible and can appear on the stem and pumpkins too.
For control, you must throw out the infected vines and plants, resist overwatering and use mulch.
- Aphids are a particular insect that feels the need to invade territories in which it is not wanted.
The yellow leaves, disfigured-looking fruits, black mold and sticky dew are signs that your pumpkin has been attacked by aphids.
This can be corrected by companion planting or wiping the leaves with 1 or 2% solution dish soap.
- Blossom-end rot is a disorder. The water-soaked spots on the blossoms are a sign of low watering.
Lack of calcium may also be another reason for plants to be affected. Mulch the soil, give the soil sufficient water and maintain a pH of 6.5.
- Cucumber beetles leave holes in the leaves, flowers and fruits of plants. To prevent and keep them under control, use row covers, destroy plants that got infected, mulch, mulch and then add some more.
- Powdery mildew Is a fungus that spreads white spots on the upper leaves. The foliage of the plant will look distorted, yellow or dead.
Simply spray a teaspoon of baking soda in diluted water and destroy the infected plants. Ensure the plant is exposed to the full glare of the sun.
Types of Pumpkins
There are numerous types of pumpkins and these listed are just a few.
- Jack Be Little
- Atlantic Giant
- Peanut Pumpkins
- Autumn Gold
- Connecticut Field
- Cinderella’s Carriage
With all this wealth of information, have you decided if you’ll be planting pumpkins? Don’t second guess now the kids will love the beautiful decorations.
If you’ll use pumpkins to hike the spooky season do not carve them until two days before Halloween.
On the other hand, if you’re planting pumpkins solely for the purpose of making new or improved recipes, good luck chef!