Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to Grow Pumpkins for the Fall

How to Grow Pumpkins for the Fall

With Fall quickly approaching, it’s time for the leaves to change, Halloween decorations to come out, and for a chill to be in the air. One of my personal favorite parts of Fall are pumpkins. Pumpkins can be carved, painted, displayed, and even made into a tasty treat. The good news about pumpkins is that they are a very easy fruit (yes, fruit) to plant and grow.

Read on for more tips on how how and when to plant pumpkins!

(All photos are from Pinterest. Please click on pictures to be taken to their original source.)

Planting Your Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins need to be planted in an area that gets full sun and is rather large. The vines of pumpkins can get up to thirty feet in length and will need that extra space. I would also recommend planting them in area that has good drainage. If water sits in the bed you are growing your pumpkins, it could damage your crop. The soil used to plant pumpkins can be the same as you use for plants and if you have the option to add a little compost to the soil that is even better. When planting your pumpkins, it is best practice to plant the pumpkin seed at the center of where you expect the vines to spread. The growing of pumpkins can be harmed greatly if they are hit with a lot of wind, so I usually try to make sure they are either protected or that the vines are planted in the same direction as the wind.

Time to Plant Your Pumpkins

Pumpkins are very sensitive to frost so as a good rule of thumb, I usually wait until at least May to plant my seeds and that way they are ready just in time for Fall and Halloween. Generally, it takes anywhere from 90 to 130 days for pumpkins to fully grow, but that all depends on the type of pumpkin, climate, and number of daylight hours the pumpkin receives.

Caring for Your Pumpkins

Water is an essential nutrient for pumpkins, especially because 80-90% of pumpkins is water. How much you should water your pumpkins depends on the soil you used. If you used a sand-based soil, then you will need to water more often than clay-based soil. The way I determine how much water to provide for my pumpkins is I water them until a puddle appears and then I water them again once the soil is dry. It is also important to try not to water the leaves and when you start to notice your pumpkin turning orange, it’s time to decrease the watering. Just as much as I love pumpkins, so do pests. The most common pests that tend to feed on pumpkins are cucumber beetles, squash vine borers, and squash bugs. If you have a small enough gardening, you should be able to control them by hand-picking them off, but if the problem gets too bad, I recommend using an organic pesticide to help the situation. For more information on organic pesticides, take a look at Safer Brand’s video on “The Life of a Molecule” that discusses the advantages of using organic pesticides. Thank you to Safer Brand for this wonderful guest post!

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