Tips for growing pumpkins

Growing pumpkins for a fall harvest is easy to do if you remember these tips.

A plump orange pumpkin is the king of squashes during the fall. If you've wanted to try growing your own pumpkin patch, you'd be surprised at how easy it is. Try following these tips and you'll have plenty of pumpkins to carve, bake or simply enjoy the look of.

Starting Indoors

As with most plants, the best way to begin is to start growing the seeds inside before the official planting has begun. Pumpkins take only about seven days to germinate if kept in warm soil. You'll need at least three weeks time before you can comfortably set pumpkins out on their own to grow. On the other hand as well, pumpkins are finicky transplanting plants, so don't let pumpkin seeds sit for too long inside.

Moving Outside

Your chosen garden spot for your pumpkin should always be in the sun, with very rich soil that drains very well. In the previous fall, it is best to mulch the soil with organic fertilizer. You should use anything natural, like well-rotted manure and eggshells.

You will need to give your pumpkins plenty of space. The pumpkins are vine plants and need room to grow. If you crowd them into a single area, they tend to take on diseases and you'll get a poorer crop.

When you are putting your pumpkins in the ground, it's best to remember that the pumpkin's roots will grow as deep as the pumpkin vine. So it's good to set the seeds down deep into the ground when planting. Set a support before you plant so you don't damage roots later.

After Planting

Once your seeds are in the ground, be sure to mulch often. Adding organic mulch helps to retain moisture during dry summer days and also deflects weeds that might spring up. Pumpkins need lots of plant food to grow good and meaty. Be sure to feed them every two to three weeks with compost tea or even seaweed extract.

Once you can see the fruit, you can try pinching them back a bit. This will limit the growth. If you rotate the plants occasionally, they will grow more evenly. If you've got larger pumpkins, set them on a wood plank to keep your pumpkins from rotting before they are ready.

Pest Problems

While not as susceptible as the other squashes related to the pumpkin, they still have their own issues with bugs and pests. You can keep young plants under floating row covers to keep bugs from nibbling. Be sure to read up on squash vine borers and squash bugs, as these are the most common but can be dealt with pretty easily.

Harvest Time

Pumpkins will thrive even in a light frost, so there is no real big rush to harvest. You can leave it to do last, at least until the heavier frosts kick in. This will kill the plant so be sure to not wait too long.

Cut the pumpkins from the vine, leaving enough stem to grip with your hand easily. You should only cut once the pumpkin is completely colored.

If you want to store your pumpkins, they do need to be kept in a cool place. Find a cool place with a low 50-degree temperature. This will prevent molding and rot.

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread; harvest time is a special treat. Keep your garden full of these easy to grow plants and you'll enjoy your own bounty long into winter if stored well.

© High Speed Ventures 2011