Pumpkins are typical fall vegetables, which especially became famous when Halloween made them its symbol.
Key Pumpkin facts
Height – 8 to 20 inches (20 to 50 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rich and well drained
Harvest – September to December
From sowing to harvest, each step is important and will help you to get nice pumpkins.
Sowing and planting pumpkins
When transplanting the seedlings or sowing the seeds directly, provide for 3 feet (1 meter) growing space on all sides to give the pumpkins enough room.
- Pumpkins like being planted in a well-lit place.
- It thrives in hot weather and doesn’t tolerate frost.
- The richer your soil and the better the drainage, the more abundant will your harvest be.
- Feel free to add fertilizer or decomposed manure upon planting.
Pruning and caring for pumpkins
You can pinch off stems after the 3rd or 4th leaf to stimulate plant growth.
- This will give you a better harvest and higher productivity.
To avoid keeping the pumpkins in close contact with the soil which could lead it to rot, it is better to add a layer of mulch or plastic between the fruit and the ground.
- The mulch also prohibits the growth of weeds which are detrimental to the growing pumpkins.
Harvest, when are pumpkins ripe?
Harvest the pumpkins as soon as leaves dry up.
Most important is to harvest them before the first frost.
Generally, around 60 days are needed for flowers to appear, and then a further 80 days for the pumpkin itself to grow.
- This brings the total lead time to 140 days, or 5 months after sowing.
Pumpkins are harvested in fall and keep for several months when protected from moisture in a rather cool spot.
- It is important to harvest pumpkins before the first heavy frost spells.
- Best is to store them in a cool, dry and ventilated room.
- Also, pumpkin can be frozen to keep for several months.
All there is to know about pumpkins
In vernacular, you might hear the word “pumpkin” for some squash that look similar to true pumpkins.
Pumpkins are round and bright orange and their flesh is quite fibrous. Squash is flatter and colors range from orange to green.
With high levels of vitamin A, B, and C, these fruits also have the advantage of keeping for a long time over winter, ideally at temperatures of about 50 / 55°F (10 / 12°C).
Pumpkins normally weigh in at around 10 pounds (5 kg), but some specimens have been weighed at over several hundred pounds. The largest one in the world weighed in at 2632 lbs (1190 kg), in 2016 in Belgium, breaking the world record!
Smart tip about pumpkins
Take care not to let too many fruits develop on a single plant (at most 5 or 6), or you might reduce the quality of the entire harvest overall.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pile of pumpkins by Matthias Böckel under Pixabay license
Young pumpkin fruit by Tom Brandt under © CC BY 2.0
Pumpkin vine by Grufnik under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0