Anyone who has been to a country fair or experienced Halloween knows what a pumpkin is. It’s a large orange fruit, and is most often used for pies, decorations, and entering in competitions. Many people don’t realize that there are several different types of pumpkins. There are the large ones that go in competitions and also get turned into jack-o-lanterns, and there are smaller, tastier ones that are best for baking in pies. Another thing to know is that pumpkins can grow in your garden. Here’s how.
First off, it is important that the soil you’re using to grow pumpkins has a ph level between 6.5 and 6.8. It is best to use a lot of composted manure, and plant in soil that has a good structure that not only retains moisture, but will drain well too.
Pumpkin seeds do not respond well to frost, so they should only be planted well after any possibility of frost has passed. You can start them inside if you want around 4 weeks ahead of when you think the last frost might be. If you’re transplanting, you can bring them out when leaves start appearing, and place a jar over top of the plant to protect it from the elements for the first few weeks.
To help the growing process along, especially if you are looking to win at the fair, you may want to try pollinating. After about 10 weeks after the seedling starts to sprout, find a female pumpkin. Females have a smaller pumpkin resting at their base. Swab the female flower with the stamen of a male pumpkin flower. This will quicken the pollination process, and hopefully allow your pumpkin to grow nice and big.
Stem location can go a long way towards growing a larger pumpkin. To get the stem in the right position, you will need to coach the pumpkin as it grows. This process can take weeks, but you should end up with a stem that’s perpendicular to the vine. Make sure to be gentle, however, since a pumpkin is quite delicate when it is young.
Once the vines have withered, then you know it’s time to harvest your pumpkin. Using these tips, you can make sure that your pumpkins grow up big and healthy.