Pumpkins are a perfect crop to grow with children as they look impressive and can be put to use at Halloween as lanterns. The flesh makes great soups and pies and there are many other than the huge orange varieties which are developed for great flavour rather than size.

Where to grow Pumpkins

Deep fertile soil that is rich in Humus. Before planting out dig a panting pit 45cm deep. Fill the pit with well rotted manure or garden compost and back fill again. Plant or sow pumpkins in a sunny position and protect from strong winds 

Sowing Pumpkins

Sowing can begin under glass in late spring at a temperature of 15-18c. Soak the seed overnight to speed up germination. Rootrainers will give them the perfect start. Plant out in the prepared space in early summer after all threat of frost has passed. Alternatively sow direct in early summer under an Easy Tunnel to aid germination. Keep a distance of 1.5m between rows or use one Medium Veg Planter per plant. 

Pumpkin Aftercare

To keep the vigorous growth in check, train the stems around the plant pinning them to the ground with pegs or opt for a decorative frame to support the developing crop. Watering needs to to take place throughout the growing season and feeding every two weeks will support the rapid growth of the pumpkins. Pinch out the trailing tips and once the fruits are mature stop watering and feeding completely. 

Harvesting and Storage

The fruits will mature best on the plant. Harvest the entire crop before the first frosts, leaving a stem of about 5 cm. Leave them in a sunny position for about a week for the skins to harden - they will then store well. 

For full info on How to Harvest Pumpkins check out this blog. 

Pumpkin Pests and diseases

Slugs can be a problem, especially when the fruits start to grow - a simple beer trap will help to protect the crop.

Sarah Talbot