Growing pumpkins is great fun – especially if you get the kids on board with the project, with a prize for the biggest one. You will be rewarded with really lovely plants if you give the proper growing conditions to them. For a start, sow them in a sunny and sheltered place, and water them well.
Seeing ripening pumpkins in the sun is a fascinating sight in the autumn. Besides, you can use the pumpkins for Halloween decorations. Not only this, the hearty soup and roasted pumpkins are a delight.
The pumpkins grow best when you sow them indoors, i.e., in a greenhouse. However, you can also transplant them in a sheltered outdoors place.
You can sow the seeds indoors. But if you’re short on space (or impatient like me), you can also purchase young plants from garden centres. Use 3-inch pots for sowing earlier crops in colder regions. The right time to sow these earlier crops is in mid to late April.
- Sow the seeds in the depth of 0.5 inches
- Ensure the temperature is 65–70°F when sowing the seeds, or you will have a problem with their germination.
The right time for outdoor sowing is late May to early June.
- Dig the planting holes about 3 inches deep
- Sow 2-3 seeds per hole
- Cover them with plastic sheeting, jars or cloches.
- Allow the plants to grow for at least two weeks after they start germinating.
- Thin out the seedlings so that the most vigorous seedlings are left to flourish.
The best conditions for pumpkins growth are warm and sunny locations. Besides, you also have to make sure that the place you have chosen has moisture retentive soil and is sheltered from cold winds, which they do not like.
Harden off plants that you have raised indoors. For this purpose, put the plants in your cold frame for one week. But what would you do if you don’t have a cold frame? In this instance, we would suggest you place them outdoors for about one week during the daytime, providing good weather. Then, place them outdoor for both day and night in the following week.
- Make a hole that has depth and width similar to a spade.
- Fill the hole with mulch
- Apply two handfuls of general-purpose fertilizer in each square metre/ yard.
- Ensure a distance of 6 ft among plants, which they need.
- Space these planting or sowing sites 1.8m (6ft) apart.
- Water the plants regularly so that water reaches the plants’ roots.
- Make sure water doesn’t stay around the plant neck. Otherwise, rotting could occur.
- Feed the plants with a high potassium liquid fertilizer when the fruit starts swelling.
- Support the fruits on glass or tiles (I use large pieces of broken pots).
Mostly, the pumpkins are ready to harvest in autumn. Make sure the fruits are mature and coloured. You can either store them for winter use or use them at the same time.
Here are some tips for harvesting the pumpkins:
- Harvest the pumpkins before the arrival of the frost.
- Cover the fruits with cardboard, fleece or straw.
- Never store the frosted fruit.
- Dry the pumpkins in the sun if you want to keep them. You can dry them in a greenhouse or outdoors on a nice day.
- Store the pumpkins in a ventilated place.
- Ensure the temperature is around 50-60 °F for storage.
You can store the pumpkins for a minimum of three months. However, a period of six months is ideal for storage.
Leaves become stunted and shrink as white powdery deposit forms on the leaf surface.
- Grow the plant in cooler conditions
- Keep the soil moist
No Fruit or small rotten fruit
It is a physiological issue. Growing conditions, disease, or an infestation of pests is the reason for it. Early in the summer is the time when this issue occurs the most due to inadequate pollination.
This problem will go away in better weather conditions. However, you can also go for self-pollination, which is easy, using a thin brush.
Now the question is how you will hand-pollinate?
- Firstly, you have to remove the male flower.
- Secondly, you have to brush the central part. Make sure you’re brushing at the female flower’s centre.
This process is time-consuming. In my view, it is best to let the plant correct this issue on its own.
Grey mould is fuzzy and shows grey fungal growth. It starts with discoloured patches. It mainly occurs in humid or damp conditions. The damaged parts of the plants are responsible for the entry of spores into plants.
Mould is also dangerous for ripening fruits, such as strawberries. The black spores of the mould stay throughout the winter.
- Remove the damaged parts of the plant as soon as possible.
- Clear all the debris infected with the mould
- Reduce humidity in greenhouses. You can do so by avoiding the overcrowding of seedlings and young plants. Moreover, proper ventilation of the greenhouses to reduce the humidity is also a good option to take the mould away from your plants.
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