How to Plant Pumpkins – Growing pumpkins can be fun. Just imagine the big fruits that you are going to harvest the next fall can make you feel happy and content. Moreover, this fruit is rich in nutrition and looks great for decoration. But, to gain a successful yield and all those benefits, you need to find out how to plant pumpkins.
It is not too challenging to plant this fruit if you know how to do it.
Pumpkins are a kind of fruit. But people consider them as a vegetable. Before you start growing them, you need to know more about pumpkins.
This knowledge is part of the preparation processes of how to plant pumpkins. These are some of the things you need to know about this vegetable.
1. Origin and history
The pumpkin is a plant of the genus Cucurbita. It is a variety of winter squash. This plant is originally from the southern United States and northern Mexico.
It has been cultivated and consumed for about 5000 years in those areas.
At that time, pumpkin fruit was one of the staple foods of the Native Americans. Also, they used pumpkin seeds for medication.
Moreover, Native Americans also created mats from pumpkin strips. They flattened the strips and dried them before making them into mats.
When the colonists landed in this continent, they relied on pumpkins as one of their staple foods. They cooked this fruit by slicing the top and removing the seeds.
After that, they filled it with milk, honey, and spices. Then, it was baked and enjoyed. This particular dish is considered as the origin of pumpkin pie.
Christopher Columbus brought pumpkin seeds back to Europe. However, it was not popular among Europeans at that time.
One of the reasons for this unpopularity is that this plant requires warm temperatures to grow. However, these days, pumpkins are cultivated all over the world.
Some of the countries that produce abundant pumpkins are China, the U.S, and India.
2. Pumpkin Characteristics in General
If you want to know the method of how to plant pumpkins, you also need to know the characteristics of pumpkins in general.
Therefore, you can prepare the soil properly and choose the right location to plant them.
A pumpkin plant is a vine that can grow very long, up to 15 meters in length. Therefore, this annual plant needs more space to grow.
But, you don’t need to worry if you have a small garden. There are some solutions for it.
You can plant it in a 10-gallon bucket. Also, you can grow it on the edge of your garden and arrange the vine growth along the sidewalk.
Another solution is training this plant to grow on a trellis. Once it is fruiting, you can support the fruits using nets. Moreover, you can also choose miniature pumpkins.
This plant loves the sun. Therefore, you need to plant it in an area with full sun exposure. Moreover, a pumpkin plant is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
It takes about 75 to 100 days for this plant to mature. As a result, if you want to start the process of how to plant pumpkins, you must make sure that you do it at the right time, i.e. when the danger of frost has gone.
This particular plant needs soil that is fertile and rich in organic matters to grow. Also, this soil must have the right acidity level, i.e. between 6.5 and 7.5.
Moreover, it is also important to grow it in a well-drained area. To be successful in growing this plant, you need to make sure that the soil has enough moisture.
3. Flowering and Pollination
A pumpkin plant will bloom in the summer. It has yellow flowers that can reach up to 10 cm in size. Pumpkin flowers are monoecious.
It means some of them are female and others are male. They need the aid of bees to pollinate.
Pumpkins are botanically considered as berries, particularly the pepo type. This kind of berry has a thick and hard rind, fleshy pulp, and many seeds.
That’s why pumpkins are scientifically named as Cucurbita pepo.
This fruit has yellow or orange rind. However, other varieties have green, white, blue, or red rind. This rind is smooth but lightly ribbed.
The pulp or flesh is usually orange or yellow. Certain varieties have a sweeter taste from other varieties.
Moreover, this fruit weighs between 4 kg and 8 kg. A certain variety, such as C. maxima, can weigh up to 30 kg.
However, in pumpkin festivals and competitions, these fruits can weigh more than a ton.
This particular fruit is used for different purposes. One of them is cooking. People in different countries use pumpkin fruits to make various dishes.
In the United States, this fruit is used for making pumpkin pie. Moreover, it is also made like soups, purées, and mashed pumpkin.
Meanwhile, the pumpkin leaves are used for cooking in several countries, such as Korea, China, and Kenya. Also, people in Mexico make certain dishes using pumpkin flowers.
Moreover, many people also make a snack from pumpkin seeds. These seeds are usually roasted before eating.
However, pumpkins are not only used for cooking. They are also used as home decorations.
6. Nutritional Value
Pumpkin fruits are excellent food. They are a good source of vitamin A.
Moreover, pumpkins also have a moderate amount of vitamin C and a small amount of vitamin B, potassium, iron, and other minerals and vitamins.
They are low in dietary fiber but high in water.
If you are determined to plant some pumpkins in your garden, you need to choose the right variety.
Different varieties require different methods of how to plant pumpkins. Moreover, they also have their unique characteristics. These are some recommended pumpkin varieties to plant.
Dill’s Atlantic Giant
If you have a large garden and want to join a pumpkin contest, planting Dill’s Atlantic Giant will be perfect for you.
This giant pumpkin variety has a long vine that can reach up to 8.3 meters in length. Moreover, the fruit may weigh up to 100 kg.
However, it takes more time to mature. A Dill’s Atlantic Giant needs between 130 and 160 days to mature.
Since it can grow jumbo fruits, you need to make sure that you fertilize the soil properly on which it grows.
Moreover, if you want to get a bigger fruit, you need to remove a couple of female flowers when the plant blooms.
Later, when the fruit is developing, you need to remove all those flowers. Therefore, the fruit will have more chance to grow bigger.
Jack Be Little
If you have a limited size garden, Jack Be Little pumpkins is your best choice. This miniature pumpkin only needs a small space to grow since the vine is not too long.
Also, this cute pumpkin variety only takes 90 or 100 days to mature and can produce 12 fruits per plant. Jack Be Little variety is not only delicious. But, it is also great for decoration.
Autumn Gold Pumpkins
If you want to carve Jack-o-Lanterns next Halloween, you must choose Autumn Gold pumpkins. This variety takes about 100 days up to 120 days to mature.
It has nice round and orange fruits. Also, they are medium-sized, about 4 kg in weight. Autumn Gold pumpkins will give you a nice harvest because it produces 3 or 5 fruits per vine.
Small Sugar Pumpkin
If you want to make sweet and delicious pumpkin pies, you must plant Small Sugar pumpkins in your home garden.
This particular variety takes about 100 days to mature. Also, it bears medium-sized sweet pumpkins, about 3 kg in weight.
How to Plant Pumpkins
Growing a pumpkin plant can be a bit difficult. But, if you know the methods of how to plant pumpkins, you will be able to face this difficulty.
Before you grow them, you must choose the right site to plant them.
The best one is in a sunny place. However, you can also grow them in a lightly shaded area. Also, you must buy some pumpkin seeds from your local nursery.
Once you choose the right area and have the seeds, you can begin the steps of how to plant pumpkins.
1. Preparing The Ground
Planting pumpkin seeds directly on the ground will give you a better chance of success than planting them in a seedling tray.
Therefore, you need to prepare the ground. These are several things you need to do in preparing it.
Pumpkin plants need a lot of food. Therefore, you must make sure that the soil in the planting site is fertile enough.
To fertilize the soil, you need lots of aged manure and compost. Those two fertilizers must be mixed with the soil on the planting site.
Create Pumpkin Hills
To increase your chance of success in germinating pumpkin seeds and growing them, you need to create pumpkin hills. The soil of these hills will get warm easier.
Therefore, the seeds will germinate more quickly. In creating them, you need to dig the ground about 12 inches deep.
After that, fill it with soil that is mixed with lots of manure. Meanwhile, the top 2 inches of soil must be mixed with lots of compost.
The mounds of these hills don’t need to be big. You can create them as big as small pitcher mounds.
2. Planting The Seeds
The best time to plant pumpkin seeds is between mid-May and mid-June. Therefore, the seeds will not be damaged by frost.
In planting the seeds, you can follow these steps.
Make 1-inch deep holes on the hills you have created. The space between holes must be about 24 inches apart. If you have more than one pumpkin hill, you must make sure that they are at least 6 feet apart.
Put a seed in each hole and cover the holes with the soil. After that, you need to moist the soil.
Check those seeds regularly and make sure that the soil is moist enough. Pumpkin seeds usually need a week to sprout roots. In about 10 days after planting, you will see tiny leaves emerging from the holes. For the best result, you should have three vines per hill.
After you pumpkin seeds grow into young plants, you need to perform the next step of how to plant pumpkins. This step is caring for pumpkin plants. It consists of:
Pumpkin plants need lots of water. However, you must not spray the plant with water. It is to prevent the plant to rot.
Moreover, a pumpkin plant needs an inch of water per week.
Also, you need to mulch the ground around the plants so that the soil is moist. Mulch will also keep weeds away.
You need to fertilize this plant regularly. When the plants are a foot tall, you need to fertilize the soil with nitrogen.
But, when they are almost flowering, you need to fertilize the soil with high phosphorous fertilizer.
Also, to promote better growth you can also fertilize the ground with a mix of water and manure or compost.
Fighting Diseases and Pests
Various insects can attack your pumpkin plants. Some of them are armyworm, cucumber beetle, and aphids. To fight them, you may need pesticides.
However, be careful in applying it, especially when the plants are flowering. Inappropriate applications may kill the bees that help the pollination of pumpkin flowers.
There are also various fungus, viruses, and bacteria that can affect pumpkin plants and their fruits. To avoid them, choose pumpkin varieties that are resistant to diseases.
Moreover, you also need to place thin boards under ripening pumpkins so that they are not damaged by pests and diseases.
Your pumpkins are ready to harvest when their rind is hard and its color is more solid and deep. Another sign of a ripe pumpkin is that it produces hollow sounds when you thump on its rind.
In harvesting them, you must not cut them too close from the fruits. Leaving 4 inches of the stem will make pumpkins last for months if you store them in a cool and dry room.
Now that you know how to plant pumpkins, you can start planning to plant them and browse for the right pumpkin seeds.
Once you harvest and cook your pumpkins, you must remember to store the seeds. Therefore, you can use them to plant pumpkins next time.