There is virtually no fall without pumpkins-orange kinds, bug kinds, carved kinds, and better yet the pie kinds. The colorful plants ripening in the sun are arguably the most beautiful sight to behold in the autumn. While you could load your wagon up at the local grocery, you could well start a new tradition by growing these gourds in your garden.
Luckily, these delicious crops will flourish almost anywhere with proper care. If you want to learn about how to grow pumpkins, here is an outline on how to successfully do it:
Choose Your Seeds
Usually, pumpkins are available in multiple varieties ranging from color, size, texture, and taste, meaning that there is no single type that can claim to be the ‘best.’ From the teeny tiny to the ballooning giants, there are multiple options out there for you. With this in mind, the first step to planting pumpkins is choosing what pumpkin seeds you want to grow. Some of the most popular options you can choose from include pie pumpkins, large-decorative, and small decorative/mini pumpkins.
Prepare the Seeds for Planting
The next step is preparing your pumpkin seeds for planting. However, before doing this, you must file the seed edges using a nail file. File all the seed edges lightly except for the pointed end. By filling the seeds’ edges, you make it easier for moisture to seep inside as well as for the leaves to effectively emerge from the shell with no damage. Naturally, since the shell is quite thick, the leaves may have some difficulty opening the shell.
Moreover, to assist with the germination, soak your seeds in warm water for between one and two hours to help them sprout faster. After soaking them, drain the water off and pour your seeds into a bag (plastic) and seal it.
Plant the Seeds
When it comes to planting the seeds, do so in hills. Hills help enhance the soil drainage as well as allow faster heating of the soil by the sun. This effectively quickens the germination. With bush-type varieties, you need to plant them 3ft. around every plant. As for the vining type, afford an adequate 8 to 10 inches between the plants. Typically vining pumpkins need a massive amount of space to allow them to spread.
Another thing is to check the temperature of the soil. It ought to be approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow this by using a garden hoe to create 10-inch spaced hills and then dig a pocket in the hill’s center and then drop between 2 to 3 seeds approximately 1-inch into this hole. Once you firm the soil over your seeds, take your garden hose and mist the mounds with water.
Water the Plants
Typically, pumpkins need a significant amount of water (approximately 1” every week), although they need not get too much. Make it a habit to water your seeds when the soil seems somewhat dry. The best way is to water them deeply and infrequently. When you water your seeds, use a lot of it and allow it to soak deep into the soil. Usually, pumpkin roots run many inches down, although it depends on the growth phase. While at it, avoid getting the water on the leaves as this promotes powdery mildew growth, a fungus that can result in the withering and death of the plant.
Morning is the best time for watering to allow the leaves ample time to dry. Finally, once the pumpkins start turning orange, reduce the water amount.
Pollinate the Blossoms
Pumpkins are dependent on bees for pollinating the blossoms. To get a pumpkin, female flowers need to be fertilized, hence the importance of bees. If there are no active bees in your garden, it is up to you to assist in the pollination process, which you can achieve by spreading the pollen with your hand using a typical artist brush.
Fertilize and Prune
A few days after blossoms emerge, side-dress your vines using fertilizer. Essentially, side-dressing represents spreading the fertilizer in proximity to the plants to allow their roots to take it in. After you notice a few fruits emerge, proceed to replace the row cover. However, not until before you prune the vines with a pruning saw.
Generally, if you are looking to grow giant pumpkins, ensure that you prune the plant’s growth to between one and two plants for every hill and let only one fruit mature on one vine. Cut off all fruits and leave the best one once they mature to softball size.
Weed Your Plants
To ensure that you only harvest healthy pumpkins, you need to monitor them as they grow carefully. Weed your patch regularly and don’t allow the weed to crowd out your plants or absorb the essential nutrients your pumpkins require to thrive. Weed the section several times in a week while checking for various pests such as beetles and aphids. Also, be sure to mulch around your plants. This is to conserve the overall soil moisture and also minimize the weed pressure.
The final step is to harvest your plants. After a substantial growth period, your pumpkins will mature once the rinds harden and achieve the preferred shade. Harvest ahead of a heavy frost, to avoid it damaging the fruits. While at it, cut the vine using a pruning saw, leaving some inches of stem intact. Afterward, delight in the fruits of your labor!