Growing pumpkins can be a fun hobby, for cooking or serious business. Whether you’re in it for profit or fun, the steps you need to take are the same.
Where to Plant Pumpkins
As with most other plants and veggies, the site must have full exposure to the sun. The pH level should be 6.0 to 6.8. The soil needs to have a temperature in the low 60s. The soil needs to be light but it must be rich. Good drainage is mandatory.
Planting the Pumpkins
If you bought nursery plants, you can plant them in the soil already. If you have seeds, grow them indoors a month before the last frost. This won’t be necessary if winter has long passed in your area of course. Start growing pumpkins by digging in the soil and adding lots of compost. Mix in some well cured manure.
Tilling must be wide and deep. These roots can reach in excess of
14 feet in every direction. If you are transplanting, harden the seedlings first. Make hills in the soil and plant the seedling there. Spacing is usually 5 feet per plant in all directions. Some varieties may need more, so look at the packet.
Proper Care and Maintenance
When the seedlings are set, add some mulch. This is needed to preserve the moisture. It also helps deter weeds, which is crucial when growing pumpkins. If the weather turns cold or windy, apply some floating row covers or cloches. This is recommended for the younger plants.
Pumpkins need 1 to 2 inches of water a week. You can increase the amount a bit when it gets very hot. Make it two inches weekly when the pumpkin is blooming or bearing fruit. Give the plants compost tea every two weeks for added nutrition. You can also feed them with seaweed extract.
When the fruits appear, pinch the leaves. This will restrict their growth but it won’t affect the fruit production. When growing pumpkins, it’s a good idea to put board below the big ones. This will keep them from decaying.
Orange pumpkins are ripe when the vines die. For cut whites, you should harvest them when the skin gets marked with green. Other varieties in your area might have different characteristics, so check with the nursery.
If your pumpkin takes a long time to grow, use an IV drop (50/50 sugar and water). Place this in the vein 4 inches over the pumpkin. Keep this on for two weeks. This is recommended for pumpkins 6 inches in diameter. You can also use blood meal to give it nitrogen. Pumpkins need nitrogen so this will help.
Avoid dampening the leaves when you water it. But again, this may depend on the pumpkin in your area. When using fungicides and other pest controlling devices, make sure you follow all the directions. Eliminate all traces of disease as quickly as possible. This is the best way to prevent widespread infection.
Growing pumpkins continues to appeal to a lot of gardeners. If it’s raised properly, you can expect to get good harvests.