Now that we are in the midst of summer, it’s hard to believe that the 4th of July is just around the corner, much less Halloween. However, if you want to grow your own pumpkins – now is the time to get started.
Growing pumpkins is one of the most enjoyable vegetables to grow and if you have kids – they will love to grow their own pumpkins (I speak from experience
Select an area that will receive 6 – 8 hours of sun a day AND be sure to allow plenty of room for them to grow (I’ll show you why later).
Pumpkins need 110 – 140 days of frost-free weather to grow, depending on the variety you choose. The seed packet will tell how long you will need.
Pumpkins need fertile soil ( I add 1 part compost, 1 part aged manure to 1 part native soil). Create a small mound that is 3 feet wide with a small ‘moat’ that is 4 inches wide and deep around the mound. The raised mound will keep the soil and seeds warm and the moat will concentrate water around the root zone.
*You can grow pumpkins without a mound, particularly in warm areas with well-drained soil, which is what I do in my garden
Plant 4 – 5 pumpkin seeds on the top of each mound and once they sprout – thin to 2 plants per mound. Mounds should be about 10 – 15 feet apart because…
Pumpkins grow fast and cover a lot of ground….
In fact, if you haven’t allowed enough room – your pumpkin vines can ‘escape’ like this one has.
Pumpkins need to be watered regularly from the bottom (the leaves don’t like to get wet). A good rule of thumb is to let the top inch of soil dry out between each watering.
Soon, bright yellow/orange flowers begin to appear. You might worry at first, that you don’t see any pumpkins forming from the flowers – but that is normal. You see, the first flowers produced are male and are designed to attract pollinators. Don’t worry, the female flowers will soon follow.
Before you know it…you will soon see little pumpkins begin to form. Remember the picture of the ‘escaped’ pumpkin vine? This little pumpkin formed outside of the garden from this vine.
And it began to grow…
Once your pumpkin is a beautiful, orange color with firm flesh – it’s time to harvest. Be sure to leave a few inches of stem on the top of each pumpkin, which helps them stay fresh.
Before you know it, fall will be here and it will be time to display your pumpkins…
This year, I have planted white pumpkins (Lumina variety). I already have ideas about decorating with them this fall…
So how about you? For under $2 for a packet of seeds, you can plant your own pumpkins now so they will be ready for fall.