Growing Pumpkins

As we begin summer, it’s a bit early to think about Halloween parties. But to be successful growing Halloween pumpkins, you need to plant NOW. The giant prize winning 500 pound monsters are usually started in late May. However, the normal run of the mill 3 to 30 pound beauties will do great at this time. You may also choose from hybrids grown for unusual colors such as white or pink.

You might want to consider those that are particularly tasty for pies or edible seeds. The petite ones are great for decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae and are closely related to squash. They prefer well-drained, loamy soil with a neutral pH. They will grow just fine in clay soils as long as they are not water bogged (kept too wet).

With all varieties, it is best to plant 3 to 5 seeds in a mound. Space the mounds 2′ to 3′ apart. The small-fruited varieties will grow well on a fence or trellis. The larger varieties need ground space.

Keep evenly moist and feed every 2 weeks or as directed on the product label. As the plants grow, you can turn the runners back toward the stem to reduce the space requirement. As the pumpkin matures, place straw or cardboard under the fruit to help prevent rot and insect damage. Pick when the stems start to dry. Be sure to leave a 3″ or longer stem for that perfect jack-o’-lantern top.

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