What would autumn be without pumpkins? It’s silly to imagine fall’s harvest without pumpkin pie or the pumpkin jack o’ lantern so proudly displayed on your porch during the fall decorating season. Why not grow your own? Not this year of course, but consider it for next year. You have seen the prices being charged for pumpkins, haven’t you? They ARE expensive, but it’s so easy to grown them in your very own pumpkin patch staring next spring.
Pumpkin Seed Basics: Planting, Not Eating!
It’s important to remember that pumpkins need anywhere from 75 to 100 days to mature – and these must be days without the danger of frost so figure your location’s growing season days carefully. Generally speaking, in northern regions you need to have the plants in the soil by late May and in southern regions early July should be the latest date you plant. If you need a longer growing time than you have warm days, then germinate and begin growing the pumpkin plants indoors. When the danger of frost is past, immediately get those plants into the ground. Remember: pumpkins don’t like cool temperatures.
Preparing the Soil and Planting Pumpkins
The planned pumpkin patch area should have full sun all day. The pumpkin plants need lots of space to spread out as they grow – you’ve visited a pumpkin patch with your kids, right? Yes, they really do need all that space. Pumpkins will grow in about any soil type, but they really like very rich soils that drain well and don’t hold water.
Pumpkins will flourish if you prepare, in advance, hills of composted manure or other rich compost dug down and mixed well into the soil. The more compost the better, toss in a regular garden fertilizer and mix well.
Mound up the hill, and plant your seeds (or baby plants) into the top of the little hill, when they take hold and you see they are growing, thin the plants. Keep only two or three plants per hill, at the most.
Space the hills to about five or six feet between each other. If you are making rows of pumpkin plants instead of hills, then leave about ten or twelve feet between rows and five or six feet between plants.
Pumpkins need a lot of water, at least an inch each week. Let the water reach deep around the plants – don’t just water shallowly. It is especially important as the plant flowers and sets fruit. One note of caution is to remember dampness of the leaves and growing pumpkins is not good so when you water, try to keep the leaves and pumpkins as dry as possible. Watering on sunny days, and as early in the day as possible is best.
Don’t water pumpkin plants at night or in the evening, as night time is the wrong time to be damp.