Pumpkins are a type of tough skinned winter squash and require a long, warm growing season to reach their full potential and to completely mature. They also require a lot of garden real estate. Pumpkins can grow into 20 foot vines but around 12 feet is average. If your garden space is limited, try growing pumpkins vertically, using a strong trellis.
HOW TO PLANT PUMPKINS
When growing pumpkins you will need fertile soil in a sunny location. Give them a good supply of water through the growing season. Sow seeds into the garden as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Plant directly into the soil, 6 seeds in a cluster or hill about 1 inch deep. When the seedlings are up thin to the strongest 3. Once the plants are a few inches tall thin back to 1 strong plant. The plants should be spaced 4 feet apart and if you have lots of garden space rows should be 6 feet apart.
As your pumpkins start to grow place some mulch like straw or a shingle under the pumpkin to help reduce ground rot. When your vine has around 6 nice fruits growing remove the late developing flowers so your vine will concentrate on growing those fruit. If your aim is to grow giant pumpkins for Halloween pinch off the tips of the vines once they have a few small fruit then shortly after remove all but the best fruit per vine so the remaining fruit gets all the plants energy. Continue to remove the flowers, water often and top dress every few weeks. Gently turn the pumpkin often to avoid developing a flat bottom.
HOW TO HARVEST PUMPKINS
Pumpkins must be harvested before you receive your first frost. Do not allow your pumpkins to freeze. Allow your pumpkins to mature on the vine as once picked a pumpkin will not ripen further. Pick your pumpkin by cutting off a few inches of stem along with the fruit with a knife. Do not just tear or rip it off the vine as a jagged cut leaves the pumpkin more open to rot.
HOW TO CRAFT WITH PUMPKINS
Besides the obvious carving or painting of pumpkins for Halloween and the notorious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, there are many other things you can do with your harvested pumpkins. Read my post Pumpkin Projects for some different and unique pumpkin ideas.
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