Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Time to Plant Pumpkins

Growing pumpkins is relatively easy as long as you have rich soil, full sun, and lots of water. I've successfully grown pumpkins of smaller varieties in large containers, which is especially helpful in taming the wild vines. Now is a good time to get started!

General Tips for Growing Pumpkins:
  1. For best results, plant good quality seeds rather than the seedlings you see at the gardening centers (they don't transplant very well).
  2. Plant after there is no chance for frost and the days average at least 70º. Most varieties take about 4-5 months to fully mature.
  3. The area to plant must have full sun, rich soil, good water drainage and be big enough for the large vines. Also, note that it's not the most attractive plant after the pumpkins begin to grow.
  4. Water deeply but only as needed, and never get the leaves wet.
  5. Watch for pests like aphids and powdery mildew which can kill a whole vine. 
For more information about growing pumpkins, the different varieties and more visit fantastic the Jack Creek Farms website: AllAboutPumpkins.com

Pumpkin Varieties

You should also consider what kind of pumpkin you'd like to grow. There are countless varieties but they generally fall in four general categories:
  1. Sugar pumpkins - thinner skins, sweeter, dryer flesh perfect for baking a pie
  2. Carving pumpkins - thicker, more stable rinds perfect for jack-o-lanterns
  3. Miniature pumpkins - smaller versions with longer shelf life usually used for decorating
  4. Ornamentals - warty, unusual colors, inedible, and typically much harder to carve
Here's a visual guide to some of the many pumpkins (and squashes) available. My favorites are the greenish Jarrahdale, the fairytale Musque de Provence, the white-skinned Lumina (similar to the Casper White pictured here), and of course, the cute as button Jack-Be-Little.

Pumpkin Chart from www.ebfarm.com