Here are some tips that you should follow for healthy home grown pumpkins.
The first thing that you need to do is to choose a pumpkin that is designed for what you want. You can buy pumpkins that are designed for cooking, carving, or decorating; you can also buy pumpkins that come in a variety of different sizes and colors, as well as shapes. You also need to decide if you want to grow one size or a variety of sizes. After making your decision you need to go to the nursery and buy the correct pumpkin seeds.
Before you plant your pumpkins be sure to choose an area that gets eight to ten hours of strong sunlight a day. Pumpkins grown in the shade will often refuse to fruit, which means that they won’t produce pumpkins. If they do manage to produce, pumpkins that are raised in the shade are small, distorted and anemic. Remember, great pumpkins are the ones with the bright orange “tan”.
Before you plant the pumpkins you should check the hardiness zone map for your particular area to see what the recommended dates are for planting pumpkins. If you live in an area that has a long growing season you can plant the pumpkins outside as soon as the threat of frost has passed. If you live in an area that has a short growing season you can either buy pumpkins that are faster growing, or you can start the plants indoors about a month before the recommended planting date. To find out more about your local growing season to determine what kind of pumpkins are better for you to plant consult with your local nursery or county extension office.
Carefully nick the hard seed coat with your fingernail or a sharp knife but do not cut all the way into the seed. Place the seeds into a glass of water and soak them overnight. Nicking the shells and soaking the seeds will make pumpkins sprout faster. Any seeds that are still floating after twenty-four hours should be discarded because they will not sprout. You also want to make sure that you don’t plant your pumpkins outdoors until the temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
When planting your seeds you should be sure to plant then about three inches deep in the soil. The more organic materials your soil has the better your pumpkins will grow. Some examples of good organic materials are: sawdust, decayed leaves, lawn clippings, shredded newspaper, etc. But before you use them you want to make sure that they are in an advanced state of decomposition. When you are planting the seeds you want to be sure that you are planting them in groups of three in small mounds. Once you have planted the seeds in the mounds you should sprinkle a quarter cup of blood and bone meal over the mound and water the mounds. You can find the blood and bone meal at most garden centers.
Also after you have planted the pumpkin seeds to be sure that they get the best growth possible they should be watered on a daily basis. But when it comes to watering you want to make sure that you don’t over-water the pumpkins; in other words you don’t want the ground to be soggy as this can cause your pumpkins to rot. They should also be fertilized regularly with a quality vegetable fertilizer, following the directions of the individual product. For more help on buying quality fertilizer you should check with your local nursery.
Now that your pumpkins have started to grow you are going to need to trim off some of the pumpkins from the vine. For larger pumpkins you are going to want to trim off all but one pumpkin for each vine. If you are growing smaller pumpkins you can leave quite a few pumpkins on each vine. Doing this will allow your pumpkins to grow in the best way possible because they won’t be competing for food and water.