Grow pumpkins is easy and fun—just give them a sunny spot, plenty of water, and protection from cold winds. One of the most beautiful views of fall is the colorful pumpkins ripening in the sun. Not only are these fruits great as Halloween decorations, they’re also great for hearty soups and delicious fried.
Did you know that pumpkins have been grown in North America for nearly 5,000 years? This native plant is interesting.
Growing this winter squash has two requirements: 1) growing space and 2) a long growing season (usually 75 to 100 days frost-free). Growers in the northern highlands must plant by the end of May; in the southern states until early July.
Pumpkins are heavy eaters and need a lot of food. However, pumpkins are easy to care for if you feed and water them as directed.
Choose a spacious location with full sun and well-drained soil. Sandy soils that are high in organic matter are best. If the soil is heavy clay, add organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or plowed vegetables. The ideal pH range is 6.0 to 6.8. Test your soil and follow any advice given.
Pumpkins also need extensive vine space: 50 to 100 square feet per hill. If space is limited, plant at the edge of the garden and run the vines across the lawn. Vines will only be annoying for a few weeks. If your garden space is limited, don’t worry! Plant squash on the edge of the garden and direct vine growth to the lawn or sidewalk. Vines will only be annoying for a few weeks. You can also grow pumpkins in 5 to 10 gallon vats. Or try miniature varieties.
When to Grow Pumpkins
Pumpkins are sensitive to cold. They should not be planted until the frost has passed and the soil temperature is between 18 and 35°C (the optimum temperature range). In cooler climates this is usually late May, but in warmer climates you can usually wait until late July. Our planting calendar shows the first planting date at your location.
To eat pumpkin on Halloween, check the harvest days of the seed packet. Count down about a week before Halloween to know when to plant.
Pumpkin seeds are usually sown directly into the ground after the threat of frost has passed.
With a very short growing season, sow seeds indoors in peat pots 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost.
Harden seedlings before planting in warm, aged, manure/compost-rich soil.
Growing your own vegetables is no more difficult than many other traditional garden vegetables if you have enough space and your garden gets plenty of sun. The planting guide below will walk you through everything you need to know about growing pumpkin seeds.
How to Grow Pumpkins
Pumpkins are big and gluttonous. Mix a generous amount of compost or aged fertilizer into the soil of the planting site at least 2 weeks before you plan to plant.
Pumpkins have extensive root systems, and 3 to 4 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet is sufficient. Fertilizer should be evenly distributed and incorporated into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil before planting.
Strongly acidic soils must be limed. If your soil test shows that your soil pH is too low, add the recommended amount of lime.
Pumpkin seeds are usually grown in two ways: in rows or mounds.
A hill doesn’t mean the ground has to be filled. It is a place that contains a group of plants or seeds. Mounds quickly warm the soil (so seeds germinate faster) and aid in drainage and pest control.
Prepare the mound by digging 12 to 15 inches deep and mixing/filling with plenty of old manure and/or compost.
For hills: Plant plants 4 to 8 feet apart. The ground on each mound can be piled up or level with the rest of the area. Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 4 or 5 seeds per hill. Keep the seeds moist until they sprout. When plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them out to 2 to 3 plants per hill by cutting off unwanted plants without disturbing the roots of the remaining plants.
For rows: Sow seeds about 6 to 12 inches apart in 6 to 10-foot rows. Once the seedlings are grown, thin them to one plant every 18 to 36 inches.
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How to plant out your pumpkins
To learn how to grow pumpkins, watch the short video above. Here is a brief summary:
Allow your squash to gradually acclimate to outdoor conditions over 7-10 days before transplanting to warm, well-drained, humus-rich soil. They prefer a sunny, wind-protected location. Choose a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, and prepare the soil in advance by adding plenty of well-rotted manure or compost.
Depending on the variety, planting distances can vary from 90cm to 3m, so be sure to check the seed pack.
Mound the soil from each planting station into a mound about 15 cm high. Plant each squash plant in a mound to ensure good drainage and keep them well watered until they become established.
Pumpkins enjoy an ample supply of nitrogen, so after a few weeks of planting, they will enjoy supplementing with regular fertilizer. They will start to develop long stems that can be trained in a circle around the plant to prevent them from spreading too far.
They have deep roots and are usually able to find their own water in the soil, but may require additional watering during very dry periods.
How to Feed and Pollinate Pumpkins
Pumpkins are very vigorous growers, so they need a lot of fertilizer to stay healthy throughout the season. The video above offers many great tips to help with feeding and pollination. Here is a brief summary:
Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer every week until flowers start to appear, then switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer.
When the fruit begins to develop, switch back to a high potassium diet. Pumpkins are also thirsty plants, and regular watering is essential if you want a good harvest.
Pumpkins are usually pollinated by insects, but if the fruit is immature, you may need to manually pollinate.
Female squash flowers can be identified by a bump at the base of the flower, while male flowers are not. Don’t panic if the first flowers are all male. This is normal and you will soon find that the female flowers are developing.
As the flowers develop, pick a male flower and remove its petals. Press it towards the center of each female flower. If you like, you can tickle the center of each flower with a small brush to transfer pollen from the male flowers.
If you’re growing pumpkins for Halloween, you want the biggest fruit. Choose only two or three gourds per plant, then remove all other gourds, focusing the plant’s energy on the fruit of your choice.
How and When to Harvest Pumpkins
Leave the squash on the plant for as long as possible until the skin hardens and the fruit begins to crack near the stem. But be sure to harvest them before the first frost. Cut each fruit from the stem, leaving a few inches of stem. Watch the video above for more harvesting tips.
Through the above article, globaltimes-sl.org has summarized most of the fastest and simplest ways to grow pumpkins. Hope you can follow the guide successfully!