Newest Review: ... be creative and plant them so that they all trail away from the centre of a circle. Pumpkins like water so make sure they are regularly w... more
Member Name: Niall85
Advantages: Large amount of cookable yield, fun for the family, profitable
Disadvantages: Take up a lot of space
Pumpkins are probably the most wasted vegetable in the world as most of them are grown to use at Halloween. The majority of people just scoop out the inside and bin it not realising it is actually quite tasty. In my 4th year of gardening, the first year was hilarious but now I am more familiar with the type of plant they are and how to grow a nice pumpkin.
Be warned! Seed manufacturers such as Thompson Morgan will entice you to buy their pumpkin seeds by showing a picture of the worlds biggest pumpkin on the front with a small child sitting on it, before you buy this particular variety please be aware of how much space it takes up and what a large garden you will need in order to grow it!
I have grown these massive varieties and in my second year of gardening managed to get one so that when I posed for a photograph with it, I could only lift it for so many seconds - not quite a world record but a feat nonetheless. That was then, when I developed a large piece of land belonging to my parents that was strewn with weeds and filled it with veg - this is now and my garden can't accommodate such shenanigans any more.
You can get some pumpkin seed that grows small manageable and highly tasty pumpkins that don't end up like the giants you carve out for Halloween.
Like most veg, a pack of seeds starts from less than £1, before you buy and think about growing; please take into account how much space they literally consume...
Pumpkin plants, if left to their own thing can trail on forever like a beanstalk from a fairytale clinging along the soil. Each plant is supposed to be spaced out around 2-4 feet apart every way, but I have planted them closer with good results.
Pumpkins like it sunny, but not in full blown sun, so I suggest a small amount of shade from a hedge or tree at some point during the day.
You won't need a greenhouse or polytunnel to grow a pumpkin, but if you are going for it then be prepared for it to trail all over your garden (unless of course you control it!)
Pumpkin seeds are massive and if you drop them you can easily find it - unlike some other seeds which are so small that you could accidentally inhale them if you sneeze whilst sowing... They are about the same size as a guitar pick.
Sow in middle of spring to late spring in large pots (minimum of 20cm), one seed per pot. They germinate quite quickly and the plants will soon outgrow even that large pot.
Seeds are supposed to be placed on their side in the soil and not flat, this way the shoot that emerges finds its way to the surface without any problems.
You can even sow pumpkins in their final position from late spring, but be careful of frosts. If you sow directly outside then you can use an old plastic bottle with the top cut off as a way to propagate and protect the emerging seedling.
I start mine off in pots indoors and then transplant outside when all risk of frost has passed. By the time they are large enough to transplant, the stem is about an inch thick and the plant just slides out of the pot with its roots and is easy to place into its final position.
If you have a large patch of ground to grow pumpkins and let them go wild then great, be creative and plant them so that they all trail away from the centre of a circle.
Pumpkins like water so make sure they are regularly watered - you can also feed them with a high potash feed to encourage better plant growth and faster fruit growth when they have set - you guessed it... Tomorite is your friend!
Flowers on pumpkins are large and yellow - it is worth protecting them somewhat if the weather is very wet, last year most of the flowers on my pumpkins got battered and just fell off which delayed the fruit appearing on plants. You can see when a female flower is going to produce a pumpkin because it is visible at the base of the flower.
You have several options when growing pumpkins in restricting the plant, letting it go, restricting the number of fruits or just letting it go wild.
By letting it go wild, the plant will trail along the ground for months and can get as long as around 30+ feet without much trouble! The general rule is that you are supposed to cut off the growing tip f the plant when 3-4 fruits are visible on the plant, then like most other vegetables it means that the plant is putting its efforts into the fruits on it rather than trailing to next doors garden (or even the next street...) You will have to keep an eye on this as even though you remove the tip, this means the plant wont stop trying to grow - you'll find it growing longer still and you may have to give it a few snips still.
If you are growing a massive variety then you need to a) cut the tip off the plant to stop it growing and b) only allow the plant to grow one fruit - this way it puts all of its energy into one fruit, and not several as well as the plant.
I'd only suggest growing one giant if you want to impress the neighbourhood with your skills, for a local vegetable show or to try and break the world record (I don't think our climate will suffice for a record breaker though!). If you are slightly obsessed or mad about Halloween then you can also place a small car sized pumpkin at the end of your driveway to make everyone stop and stare...
When the pumpkins have formed, check where they have formed because the fruit needs to be kept as dry as possible on the surface it touches. Use a piece of wood, a brick or tile to lift it off the soil/grass and that way it wont rot from being exposed to the damp.
From sowing to harvesting you are looking at around 6 months, so literally end of September to mid-October for the harvest. You can tell when it's ripe because the colour will change to go quite dark orange, or if it's an unusual variety then check a picture online to see what you need to match it to. Quite a lot of pumpkins start off green and then ripen orange.
Pumpkin plants are quite spiky and if you grab a stem you can be left with bleeding hands from the little spikes that protrude. This is the plants defence against predators. Wear gloves when removing a pumpkin and use a small saw or serrated knife to cut the pumpkin off. Trust me, use a knife or saw because you won't be able to pull it off without seriously damaging the pumpkin, the plant or yourself!
Pumpkins can keep for quite a long time once picked; if you store them at 10 degrees in a cool environment with lots of air circulating then they can last for 3-6 months. A good crop can last the whole winter and be used for many warming meals!
Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween - you can use them in cakes, soups, pies and (the only way I like to eat them) roasted like parsnips. When you cut the pumpkin and use it in your cooking, be sure to save the seed and dry it out to use it next year, if you like them you can just reuse the seed. Seed can keep for many many years if it is stored correctly.
Why grow pumpkins?
To eat. For Halloween. To break a world or local record. To make your friends envious of your mad pumpkin-growing skills.
Seriously, they are fun to grow especially when the fruit develops they can grow in size within the space of a day noticeably. They can be expensive to buy for cooking; most of the ones for Halloween would be pretty gross if you ate them because they are modified to grow quickly for the purpose of carving them.
My second year in growing them, I had a pumpkin patch and they took over an area around 10 square meters and in the end I am pretty sure we had 30-40 pumpkins... They were shared with friends and family and we even sold some to local pubs to use in their seasonal meals! If you live in the countryside, why not start an "honesty box" where people leave money and take a pumpkin, it's a great way to make a few extra pounds and if you have the space, time and resources then they can be quite profitable and enjoyable too.
Thanks for reading, hope I have inspired or helped you and contact me with any questions.
Summary: How did the ghost patch his sheet? With a Pumpkin Patch...