PUMPKIN PLANTING, GROWING AND HARVESTING

Pumpkins are actually a type of winter squash. Many varieties can send out vines that are 10 to 20 feet long, which can be challenging for a raised-bed garden.

One option is to grow them on a trellis, such as the Cucumber Trellis. Use a mesh bag or fabric to help support especially heavy fruit.

Another technique is to plant them on an outside corner of your raised bed and let the vines ramble onto the grass. If you’re planting in a raised bed or garden, choose a spot where vines have room to ramble. In a raised bed, plant pumpkins near the edge of the bed so you can train the vine over the edge, leaving the rest of the bed for other plants. When the plants are young, it’s easy to direct the vines where you want them, but you’ll want to leave them be once the vine starts flowering and setting fruit.

Health benefits.

Pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, minerals and other healthy nutrients. Whether it is the pulp or the seeds, pumpkins are great for your health and can offer some incredible benefits.

The pumpkin is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables, providing just 26 calories per 4oz. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is a rich source of dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. With 0.3oz per four ounces, it will provide about two and a half times your daily recommended dose of Vitamin A, a powerful natural anti-oxidant that is required by body to maintain the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for vision.

Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A also help to protect our bodies against lung and oral cavity cancers. Pumpkin is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Pumpkin seeds are good source of dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for cardiac health.

Planting

Plant your seeds in “hills.” Build a small mound of dirt and plant the seed 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) deep. The hill helps improve soil drainage and allows the sun to heat the soil faster, speeding up germination.

Plant 2 or 3 seeds within a few inches of one another, in case one doesn’t sprout for some reas.It doesn’t matter which end of the seeds points up. If the seeds are viable, they will grow either way

If your pumpkin variety grows along creeping vines, space the hills in the same row 12 ft (3.7 m) apart, and space the rows 6 to 10 ft (1.8 to 3 m) apart, depending on variety size. “Bush-type” varieties that grow on shorter vines need 8 ft (2.4 m) of space in all directions.

Fertilize and Thin

One week after blossoms appear, you should side dress the vines with fertilizer. Side-dressing means spreading the fertilizer close enough to the plants so that their roots can eat it up. After you see 3 or 4 fruits appear, you should then replace the row cover but not before thinning the vine with pruning shears.

If you want to grow the largest pumpkins in the neighborhood, you should thin the growth to one or two plants per hill and only allow one fruit to mature on a vine. Remove all but the best fruit when they grow to about the size softball. Just remember to water well and often and watch as the fruit grow bigger and bigger.

fertilize the pumpkin plant

To grow really big pumpkins, the most important thing to remember are seeds, soil, sunshine, and water.

General Care

Use row covers to protect plants early in the season and to prevent insect problems. However, remember to remove covers before flowering to allow pollination by insects. Pumpkins are very thirsty plants and need lots of water. Water one inch per week. Water deeply, especially during fruit set.

When watering: Try to keep foliage and fruit dry unless it’s a sunny day. Dampness will make rot and other diseases more likely.

Add mulch around your pumpkins to keep in moisture, suppress weeks, and discourage pest.Remember that pumpkins are tender from planting to harvest. Control weeds with mulch. Do not over cultivate, or their very shallow roots may be damaged.

Most small vine varieties can be trained up a trellis. Larger varieties can be trained upward on a trellis, too—though it is an engineering challenge to support the fruit—usually with netting or old stockings.

If your first flowers aren’t forming fruits, that’s normal. Both male and female blossoms need to open. Be patient. Bees are essential for pollination, so be mindful when using insecticides to kill pests. If you must use, apply only in the late afternoon or early evening, when blossoms are closed for the day. To attract more bees, try placing a bee house in your garden.

Pumpkin vines, though obstinate, are very delicate. Take care not to damage vines, which reduce the quality of fruit.

Harvesting

Check to see if the pumpkins are ready. The pumpkins should be bright orange in colour (depending on the species) with a hard shell. Their stems and often the vine itself should be starting to dry out and wither.

To slow decay, leave an inch or two of stem on pumpkins and winter squash when harvesting them.

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