How to grow pumpkins… When you hear the word pumpkin, you could either think of some of your favourite sweet dishes or think of Halloween!
There has always been a debate about whether a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable.
One could describe it as a cultivar or a variety of winter squash with an outer layer that is smooth and ribbed at the same time.
Apart from its use in food items like pumpkin pie, pumpkins are also used as decorative pieces.
During Halloween, you might have seen people using jack o lanterns, carved and stylized pumpkins resembling a scary face.
Have ever wondered ‘how to grow pumpkins? Read on to find out.
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Growing Pumpkins: Easy or Difficult?
Since pumpkins are used extensively, they are usually grown by many households in their vicinity. If you thought that it’s difficult to grow pumpkins and if you were about to drop the idea of growing them in your backyard or garden, then you must know that there are no hardships involved in growing them.
If you ask someone with gardening experience about growing pumpkins, they will tell you it’s a very simple process. Growing pumpkins is quite similar to growing vegetables in your garden.
You just need to be well-aware of the weather conditions and the materials that are required to help them grow properly. Growing pumpkins, in fact, is much easier than growing several other types of fruits and vegetables.
Things You Need To Keep In Mind Before Growing Pumpkins
If you visit a large store selling fruits and vegetables, you will realize that pumpkins are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. For instance, sugar pumpkins are very different and tend to be much smaller and sweeter as compared to large-sized pumpkins.
Visiting the stores and speaking to the people there will help you get some important tips on how to grow pumpkins. People are usually fond of pumpkins and consume them on a regular basis as pumpkins happen to be a rich source of potassium, fibre and Vitamin A.
Because of them being heavy and large in size, one can spread the plants on the ground. It is recommended to plant pumpkins closer to the boundaries of a garden bed or an area that receives sunlight in abundance. It is also possible to grow pumpkins in grow bags or large-sized troughs. Just like most types of plants, pumpkins grow well in loose soil that has been drained out properly.
Sowing seeds outdoors is a good idea but if you have a small garden inside the house, you can sow the seeds there too. Soil and sunlight are the two most important factors that determine the growth of a pumpkin and how evenly it ripens.
When you visit a kitchen garden that has vines growing through it, you will most likely see a compost heap or some companion crops beside it.
Pumpkins are generally considered to be monsoon crops but it is possible to grow them during any season of the year.
How to Grow Pumpkins?
To grow pumpkins in your vicinity, you need two things – care and patience. Apart from their use in cooking, pumpkins also add a certain visual appeal to your garden. They look beautiful and even before you cut them off, you would just feel happy looking at them.
Here is how you can grow beautiful pumpkins in your garden.
Choose The Right Seeds
The first step towards growing pumpkins is choosing the right pumpkin seeds. It’s one of the most important pumpkin growing tips that anyone can give you.
There are different types of pumpkins and you get a lot of options when it comes to their size, taste, texture and colour. If you buy two seeds of different kinds, they will grow into two different varieties of pumpkins. Whether you want to grow small pumpkins or giant pumpkins is something you have to decide. You can’t really compare them in terms of quality as each variant has some distinguishable or standout property.
Some of the popular brands selling pumpkin seeds or seed packet include Wholefood Earth, Golden Tree, Morrisons, Happy Belly and Tree of Life. You can buy pumpkin seedlings or a seed packet from any of these brands sold at a local store.
Plant The Seeds
Once you have selected the seeds, you need to find a particular area in your garden that receives an adequate amount of sunlight and then plant the seeds there.
Make sure there is enough distance between the seeds as pumpkin vines will grow up to be quite long and take up a lot of space. There are some varieties, though, that grow up in smaller forms.
You may also plant the pumpkin seeds in what is known as ‘pumpkin hills’. These are heaps of dirt that are raised slightly above the ground. These pumpkin hills will get warm pretty quickly and they are also known to drain out water at a faster rate. This kind of arrangement also works very well as the seeds will branch out into longer vines.
Water and Look After The Plants
You need to water your plants at least once a week. Pumpkin plants, just like any other plant, need to be showered around an inch of water once or twice a week.
If it had rained, you can skip watering them for some time. Even if the soil is a little wet, there is a chance that some of the pumpkin leaves might look drooped or weak. Do not get worried and start watering them if you see them in such a condition. One of the most sure-shot ways of keeping giant pumpkin plants hydrated is to mulch the garden beds at regular intervals.
Pruning your vines is not a necessity. Large leaves contribute towards more carbohydrates being produced and that, in turn, results in pumpkins being harvested in larger quantities.
Keep The Soil Fertilized
To keep the soil fertilized, you could use a good quality garden fertilizer that can provide the soil and the plants with the right kind of nutrition. You must make it a point to carry out a bunch of tests on the soil once every few years to check its health and quality.
The results, derived after conducting such tests, will give you a good idea about the kind of issue the soil is dealing with. This will also help you understand whether you need to put more effort towards maintaining the soil.
Harvest The Pumpkins
After spending several months doing everything to ensure the optimal growth of your young plants, it’s now time to harvest pumpkins.
There is no secret trick to harvest a great pumpkin. When you find the rinds to be hard, you know that the pumpkins have matured. A heavy frost can damage the pumpkins. So harvesting pumpkins is very important before the first frost approaches.
You can use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin vines. The stem can be left attached to the ground. After this, you can use the pumpkins either for cooking or for decorative purposes.
Growing Pumpkins in Containers
A lot of people feel a little surprised when they get to know that pumpkins can be grown in a plastic bag. In fact, pumpkins grow very well in large-sized containers.
Just make sure you keep checking the soil from time to time. Container gardens tend to dry out much faster than regular garden beds. While buying a container, you must remember that the roots of pumpkin plants require a large amount of space to grow and develop.
If you are planning to grow smaller varieties of pumpkin plants, you can use a container that has a holding capacity of 30 litres. If you want to grow bigger varieties, you can buy containers that have a holding capacity ranging between 50-60 litres. When you are considering a variety of containers, you must opt for the one that boasts a large surface area. This will ensure that the roots have sufficient space to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What You Should Do To Protect Your Pumpkins?
Pumpkins always face the risk of powdery mildew, one of the most dangerous plant diseases. After you plant pumpkins, it is very important to protect them from pumpkin pests and diseases.
You can get floating row covers and use them to cover the plants. You can also use good-quality pesticides in moderation to prevent the risk of pesticides and diseases. By doing this, you can protect them from squash bugs, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. Once the flowers start developing, you can remove the covers.
You will require bees to pollinate the flowers. You need to be cautious when it comes to using an insecticide product on the soil or the garden. Using inferior quality or harmful insecticides can result in causing harm to the bees and that would have an adverse effect on the growth of your pumpkins.
How To Protect Pumpkins From Squirrels?
Pumpkins are known to be attacked by squirrels. To protect them from these rodents, you could coat them with a layer of garlic crush or peppermint spray.
Squirrels are allergic to dog hair. You may spread some dog hair on the soil. As soon as they smell the presence of the hair, they will run away.
How To Safeguard Them Against The Harsh Summer Heat?
If you are growing pumpkins during the summer, here is an important tip you must remember. To safeguard the gourds from the blazing heat during summer, you could put a layer of straw under the crop.
How Much Time Would It Take To Grow A Pumpkin?
Most varieties of pumpkins mature in 90-100 days or three months.
However, the variety of the pumpkin plant you have sowed will play an important role in determining the time it will take to grow it.
If you have bought commercially sold pumpkin seeds from the marketplace, you can find ‘Days to Maturity’ mentioned on the packet. That will give you an idea about how long it will take for the pumpkins to grow.
Which Is The Best Season To Grow Pumpkins?
July is a great month to plant seeds as many varieties of pumpkins require a minimum of 90-100 days to develop gourds. If you start planting in July, you will be able to harvest them before the winter frost arrives. Once the early frost has passed, you will have nothing to worry about.
When Should You Avoid Growing Pumpkins?
When you grow pumpkins, one of the things you have to be mindful of is the risk of frost. Since pumpkins require 90-100 frost-free days to grow, you should avoid planting pumpkin seeds closer to the winter season.
Do Pumpkins Have Male And Female Blooms?
Yes, pumpkins tend to have separate male flowers and female flowers on one plant. On the left, you can see the male flower and the female flower is on the right. Fruits come out only from the female flowers.
Do Pumpkins Like Sun Or Shade?
To grow well, pumpkins need exposure to the sun to ensure the presence of well-drained soil around them. You must make it a point to remove any shade that could prevent the sunrays from falling on the pumpkins.
How Many Pumpkins Do You Get Per Plant?
One pumpkin plant could produce 1-5 pumpkins. The variety of the plant you are growing also determines the number of pumpkins that will eventually grow out of it.