Pumpkin

Pumpkins are fun to grow, especially for children who love to see the large Halloween lanterns growing and getting ready for them to carve. In cold summers, pumpkins may not do so well in the UK climate but with the right conditions pumpkins can be rather easy to grow.

Growing pumpkins:

Pumpkin seeds should be started indoors then hardened off before planting out in their final growing positions after all risk of frost has passed. Sow the seeds between April and June and be sre to pay the seeds on their sides to stop them from rotting before germination. A couple of weeks before sowing the seeds, you should prepare the ground for planting by making planting pockets. To do this, dig a hole and fill with a mix of soil and compost or well-rotted manure.

Pumpkins will need a sheltered and sunny spot in your garden and since they like heat they will enjoy being planted on last years compost as heat will be given off as the matter below decomposes. You can grow pumpkins in a greenhouse or polytunnel though you should be aware that pumpkins take up a lot of space. You can reduce the amount of space required by training vining pumpkins up a vertical frame or trellis.

A mulch will help the soil around the pumpkin to remain moist during dry weather and will help to feed these hungry plants, which will also benefit from a regular feed with an organic fertiliser.

Make sure to keep the plants well watered, especially as the fruits begin to grow. Remove all but three or so fruits to make sure that those remaining swell to a good size and the plant can put all its energies into making good, healthy examples. As the fruits get bigger you should rest them on a piece of wood, brick, slate or tile to stop them from rotting on the ground. If pumpkins are suspended you should be sure to give them extra support as the stems may not be able to support the weight of a large pumpkin unaided.

Allow the pumpkins to fully mature – leave them as long as possible, until the skin is very firm. If there is risk of an early frost then you should protect the pumpkins with cardboard and straw. Pumpkins should ideally be cut off before the first frost. You should then expose the pumpkin to sunlight outside for around ten days to allow it to harden. A polytunnel or greenhouse is ideal for this, especially if wet and miserable weather is expected. Once hardened, a pumpkin will keep for four to six months in a well ventilated space where the temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius.

Why grow pumpkins in the garden?

Pumpkins are sometimes temperamental but when they do grow as they should they are a joy to behold and make some delicious meals or can be a fun Halloween lantern made all the more fun by the fact that you grew it yourself.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Cucurbita maxima/ Cucurbita pepo