Pumpkins are a form of squash and technically a fruit grown from flower and great fun to grow; especially for children, for Hallowe'en and they can be stored for winter use. Their inside flesh can be roasted or turned into delicious soup and pies; a traditional Thanksgiving treat in USA. Pumpkins come in many varieties, sizes and colours.
Pumpkin seeds can be sown both indoors during spring, or directly out in the soil after the threat of frosts have passed; late May to early June.
If you are sowing pumpkin seeds indoors, in pots they need to be sown individually and the flat seed sown on its side to help prevent rotting. Each seed in its own pot will help reduce any root damage when you come to transport it out. Equally, when sown directly, each seed should be sown on its side. Indoor pots should be kept in a bright and warm position.
The ground to which you are planting on, should be well-prepared with compost or well-rotted manure in a sunny and sheltered position. Pumpkins will like soil that retains moisture yet not water-logged. Consider the area you are planning to plant out your pumpkins, as the foliage grows vigorously across up to approximately 3 metres.
Pumpkin plants need plenty of watering and to prevent rotting, place an open-ended pot to fill with water so that the roots can find it.
If you are growing trailing varieties of pumpkin, you will need a strong and sturdy structure to support it and hold the weight of; hopefully several pumpkins.
Pumpkins will form following the appearance of beautiful big yellow flowers and will have a green skin. Once the fruit is big enough to sit on the ground (if you are growing them in the soil), place something underneath the pumpkin/s to raise it off the ground, to stop it from rotting in the wet soil - such as a piece of wood, a slab, a bed of straw.
The pumpkins will ripen, grow larger and be firm and heavy and the foliage will begin to die off. It may be worth adjusting the pumpkin's position if they are too sheltered by their large leaves to give them more sun exposure for fully ripening.
Leave them as long as you can, in the sun until they are fully ripened and cut them off at the stalk.
The fun begins with the carving of the pumpkin for Halloween but do save the flesh and seeds inside. The seeds can be washed, dried out and stored for use next year and the flesh for tasty treats. You may like to try our delicious curried pumpkin soup recipe.