Growing Pumpkin Tips

Growing many varieties of pumpkins to consider growing in the home garden. Pumpkins have specific requirements for successful growth.

Pumpkins on the vine are a sure sign fall is just around the corner. They are often grown for cooking, as well as a variety of decorative uses. Pumpkins range in size form very small, miniature varieties to prize winning giants. Some varieties to consider growing are listed by "Burpee: Complete Gardener", published by Macmillan in 1995. The first is "Triple Treat" which is a multi-use pumpkin. It is great for the edible seeds it produces, its flesh is wonderful for cooking, and it can also be carved for decoration. "Jack Be Little" is a tiny variety. This little gem grows to a diameter of about three inches and reaches a mere height of about two inches. "Atlantic Giant" on the other end of the spectrum, tips the scales at four hundred pounds or more. "Jack O Lantern", as the name implies, is a great one for carving. If your interests are culinary, "Small Sugar" is the pumpkin to consider.

"Burpee: Complete Gardener" says pumpkins typically grow to a height of one or two feet and the vines can reach a length of ten or more feet. Pumpkins use a considerable amount of garden space, and this should be taken into consideration before planting in an area of limited space. The same book suggests "Bushkin" if your garden does not have a lot of extra space. This variety grows fruits that weigh approximately ten pounds, and the vines reach an average length of six feet. Also suggested is the use of a trellis for smaller types of pumpkins.

When preparing an area to grow pumpkins, "Burpee: Complete Gardener" says they require an area with full sun, and they thrive in warm temperatures. Pumpkins also need rich, fertile soil that drains well. Before planting, be sure to check the hardiness zone map for your particular area and the recommended dates for planting pumpkins in that area. In locations that have a long growing season, "Burpee: Complete Gardener" recommends planting pumpkin seeds outdoors as soon as the threat of frost has passed. This should be when temperatures are consistently warm. It also recommends planting fast growing pumpkins in areas where the growing season is shorter. The seeds can be started inside about a month before the recommended planting date for a short-season location.

"Burpee: Complete Gardener" provides the following guidelines for planting and caring for developing pumpkins. It says groups of three seeds should be planted about two inches below the soil, and at a minimum of five feet apart. Bush varieties can be planted with three feet of space between each plant. They should be watered and fertilized with a quality vegetable fertilizer according to product directions, and future pumpkin or squash crops should be grown in other locations after a two year period. Alternating planting locations will help prevent diseases common to pumpkins and other varieties of squash.

According to The Ohio State University Extension website article entitled "Growing Squash and Pumpkins in the Home Garden", written by Ted W. Gastier, pumpkins should be harvested when they have fully matured. It is recommended that pumpkins are picked before the first hard frost to insure their preservation. Also, they should be cut from the vine with about four inches of stem remaining.

Pumpkin is a delicious ingredient in cakes, pies, main dishes, and a variety of other mouth-watering treats. Whether they are grown for decoration or tasty fall desserts, pumpkins are fun to grow, and they are a wonderful addition to the home garden.

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