While picking a pumpkin for Halloween can be as simple as going to your local grocery store and paying for one there you can extend the fun of Halloween by growing your own pumpkin. This can be a great project to do with your kids since they can be involved in the planting, growing and harvesting process long before Halloween rolls around. While pumpkins are hardy in most climates there are certain things you should know about growing pumpkins for Halloween. Here is what you need to know about how to grow pumpkins for Halloween-
- The climate-You can have your own pumpkin patch, if you live in an area where pumpkins get about four to five frost-free months to grow, lots of growing space and can receive direct sunlight for about six hours daily. The seeds of pumpkins are usually planted by late May but you should keep in mind that the right time for planting seeds may depend on local climatic conditions of the area. You should plant the pumpkin seeds when the temperature in your area is consistently in low 70s during the daytime.
- The growing space-It is important to understand that you need space to grow pumpkins since a single pumpkin vine may grow as long as twenty-five feet and sprout many shoots along its length. You can build pumpkin mounds in your yard according to the space available to you by using loosely packed soil. The pumpkin mounds should be at least 10 feet apart from each other and measure about three feet in diameter. You should surround these mounds with a 6″wide and 6″ deep moat to help hold water around the roots. This is important since pumpkins need lots of indirect water and moist soil and with rising temperature. You may have to water the plants twice a day. You can judge this by if the plant leaves are green and healthy, then plants are getting enough water but if they are wilted, you may have to increase amount of water they get. You can water the plants using an inexpensive drip system and burying the drip hose under the mound for about an hour. You can also water the topsoil too by sprinkling water gently on it.
- How to take care of the pumpkins-You should soak the pumpkin seeds overnight before planting to soften their outer shell and help them to sprout more easily. You can plant four or five seeds in the center of one mound in an inch-deep hole for each seed. You will then fill the holes with loose soil. Keep in mind that it may take 7 to 14 days for the seeds to sprout and pumpkin flowers bloom only for one day and then are sealed closed. After two weeks, you will then select the healthiest plants on each mound and pull out rest of the vines. You should make sure that each of them gets enough sunlight and pumpkins should be rotated slightly from time to time. It is also important to understand that pumpkin plants grow very quickly and need constant pruning. If a pumpkin plant looks shriveled or unhealthy, it should be removed from the mound so healthier ones can get more water and nourishment. You should fertilize your pumpkin patch once a week with good water-soluble fertilizer.
- Care and maintenance-It is important to realize that pumpkins should not be touched again and again. Pumpkin patches needs constant removal of weeds and protection from a variety of pests such as beetles, aphids, vine borers, gophers and moles. Mildew can also seriously damage pumpkins too. If you are going for a more rounded classic pumpkin for Halloween, be on alert when the pumpkin is more than one month old. You should be very careful when you lift the stem and vine of the pumpkin in one hand and your golden pumpkin in the other hand. You can adjust them carefully so that pumpkin’s bottom is flat on the ground or wood. When the pumpkins attain a deep orange color, then it is time for harvesting. You should cut them with several inches of stem, so that pumpkins stay fresh for longer periods of time. You can then put them in sun for about ten days and then store them in a cool and dry place.