Growing pumpkins takes on a new meaning when you love pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin for pies! What a great idea.
Pumpkins are a winter squash, one of the most well known. We have pumpkins for Halloween, Thanksgiving right on through Christmas. Growing giant pumpkins is now a hobby for gardeners.
I have grown jack-o-lanterns for the children to use for carving and pie pumpkins for eating, growing only one variety at a time. A pumpkin takes up lots of garden space and can take over the garden if not kept in check.
With so many pumpkin varieties for the backyard gardener to choose from, growing pumpkins in the vertical garden makes sense. It makes is possible to grow a variety of winter squash in a 4 foot row in the vegetable garden.
Many seed companies have good selections of pumpkins seeds to choose from. I grow New England Sugar Pie for eating. Park Seed has an eating pumpkin called Autumn Gold, the fruit grows from 7 to 10 pounds. Their Hijinks hybrid is resistant to Powdery Mildew and grows from 6 to 7 pounds.
The bright orange flesh of pumpkins has a stronger flavor than other winter squash and is packed with nutrition.
Nutrients in; a 1/2 cup(100 gm)of pumpkin contains the following:
Pumpkin has male and female flowers and needs bees and insects
to pollinate. Growing pumpkins vertically helps suspend the flowers
making them easier for the insects to find.
Pumpkins grow to 4-20 pounds depending on the variety. Fencing works best for the vertical support. I like to use wire grid panels. They are sturdy and give the pumpkins enough support as they mature. Check the Vertical Gardening page for information on different support materials.
When the soil is warmed around May, prepare soil with compost. Pumpkins like rich light soil. Make rows 12-16 inches wide and 4 feet apart. Set up chosen supports along edge of row.
These rows are 4 feet apart. The fence panels are secured with T posts. I
use jute bailing twine to hold fence panels to the T post. Jute is bio
degradable and will decompose in the garden.
Plant 2 to 3 pumpkin seeds every 4 feet along fence. Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and water. Seeds germinate in 8 to 10 days depending on temperatures. Pumpkins need lots of moisture. When the plants are up, mulch around the plants and in the rows. Mulch keeps the soil moist and weeds down.
Once growing pumpkins are germinated they grow fast. When the pumpkin plants reach about 12-16 inches, tie the vines to the fence panel with twine loosely so the vines have room to grow.
Every few days check the vines and tie them to the fence panels as they grow. This encourages them to grow up and over the top of the fence panel. When they come down the other side keep tying the vines to the panels. This keeps the plants close to the fence and in control.
My panels are 4 feet tall. This gives the pumpkin 4 feet up and 4 feet down the other side and 4 feet of row space. Trim the vines to keep them in check and limit the fruit. If the vines are securely tied to the fence every 12 to 18 inches, the fruit will not need support as the plants are supported by the twine.
I have had 10-15 pound fruit hold on the vines. The plant thickens to keep the fruit safe.
Pumpkins take 90-110 days to mature. They will start to turn orange at the end of summer. Let the plants grow as long as the summer lasts. The stems will start to turn brown and the pumpkins leaves will wilt at the first light frost.
Cut the stems about two inches from the pumpkin after the first light frost. Let the pumpkins cure for 2 to 3 weeks in the garden or a cool garage. This will thicken the skins for storage.
Bring them in before it freezes. Freezing will damage the fruit and cause spoilage. Pumpkins have thin skin and damage easily. Store your pumpkins in a cool cellar or basement about 50 degrees F.
Pumpkins don’t last as long as other winter squash, but if you’re careful they can keep for several months. Pumpkins may be cooked up and canned or frozen.
This is a great way to have pumpkin for all your pies, cookies and pumpkin rolls through out the year. Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds.
Roast them for a nice nutritious treat.
The small sugar pumpkins make great decorations and after Halloween make them into pumpkin pies!