Monday 2 May 2011


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

Pumpkins are such fun to grow, and you never get bored of growing them.  I think it is because they are so big, and grow so fast that you cannot help but be impressed by them.  Or maybe it is because I can't wait for Halloween and scoop out the middle and make a lantern.  Whatever the reason, I love them and you should embrace them too.  Just make sure you have plenty of space to grow them in!

Pumpkin seeds can be planted at the end of May, when ground conditions have warmed up sufficiently to allow germination. Pumpkins thrive in warm, sunny positions and some can reach enormous proportions. In order to develop to this size they are fast growing and require high levels of feeding and watering.

When choosing a spot to grow pumpkins it is important to pick a site that receives as much direct sun as possible.  You will also need to prepare the ground to ensure the hungry pumpkin plants have high levels of nutrition and water retention, although you do not want your pumpkins to become waterlogged.

Dig over the pumpkin bed 3 weeks prior to planting and incorporate well rotted farm yard manure. You can plant pumpkins on a mound. The mound should be 1 m in diameter and surrounded by a shallow trench to collect water.   Alternatively you can plant in rows which are spaced 15 cm apart and have a channel for collecting water each side.

When temperatures are warm enough you can plant seeds directly into the soil outside but you may wish to give your pumpkins a head start you can germinate them indoors, ready to plant out when the soil reaches temperatures of 25-30 degrees Celsius. 

To break the dormancy of the seeds and speed up germination soak the seeds in warm water several hours prior to planting. Place 3 cm of  John Innes seed and cutting compost into the bottom of a 15cm pot. Place the seed in the pot either pointed end down or on its side, and top up with more compost. Water thoroughly and place in a sunny position or heated propagator. 

Remove the heat after germination, which usually takes 4-6 days. Water every other day allowing the surface to dry off between watering and keep in a well lit area. Feed weekly with half strength fertiliser after the first two weeks. Plant outside when fear of frost have passed, but harden off first.

Pumpkins can either be planted out in row or in a mound.  When planting in a found space 2 seeds or 1 plant six to eight inches apart, planting a maximum of 5 plants in each mound. When planting in rows, space 2-3 seeds or 1 plant at 45cm intervals. When planting seeds directly into the soil, remove the weakest seedling in each group.

Pumpkins are ready to harvest in October, just in time for Halloween.

For related articles click onto:

How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin carving
Pumpkin Risotto recipe
Recipe for pumpkin soup
Recipe for pumpkin pie
Recipe for pumpkin puree
What is Halloween?
What is the difference between a squash, pumpkin and a gourd?

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