In some places it’s just started feeling like Summer but in the gardening world we’re already planning for the Autumn harvest. Whether you enjoy pumpkins for carving or cooking you’ll enjoy growing them yourself. If you haven’t planted your pumpkins yet I highly recommend you get them in the ground as soon as possible. If you’re late on planting your pumpkins this year, another option is to purchase a plant from the store that has already had time to partially develop and has a strong root system. Keep in mind that pumpkins require a lot of food and a long growing season. With that said, pumpkins are fairly easy to grow.
With our limited growing space I was unable to directly sow seeds for our pumpkin patch because potatoes were currently taking up residence. Once we harvested the potatoes from the desired bed, I went ahead and purchased the variety ‘Jack O Lantern’ from a local feed store the last week in May.
Pumpkins can take up a lot of space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plant them in a raised bed or container. We planted 3 pumpkin plants in our 4 ft x 6 ft raised bed. If you don’t have the required space of 50-100 sq ft per hill then plant your pumpkins at the edge of the garden. This will allow vines to grow over the sides to give them ample room.
Make sure your soil is nutrient dense with manure and compost. Pumpkins are very thirsty plants so be sure to provide 1 inch of water per week. When watering try to keep foliage dry unless it is a sunny day. Also important is that bees are essential for pollination so try to limit use of insecticides. Pollination occurs when both male and female flowers are open, so if your first flowers don’t seem to producing fruit be patient. As fruit develops they should be turned to produce an even shape.
The main pests to be on the look out for are Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles. In our pumpkin patch I also planted Marigold seeds to help deter some of the pests that can destroy our crop.
Pumpkin plants need generally 75-100 frost free days to reach maturity but these plants are so rewarding. Carve one for Halloween, bake a pie, or try a new pumpkin recipe this year!