Take your pumpkins to new heights and find space in any garden to grow these versatile kitchen staples.
Words Eden Maher
Easy to grow and fun to experiment with, don’t let the size of the vine deter you from growing pumpkins. Yes, if left unchecked they can take up a lot of space, but they can also be trained up a trellis or vegie cage, along a fence, or over an existing tree. The vines are typically quite large, but new varieties, and a snip here or there, can help keep your pumpkins in check and your cupboard full.
Find a position in full sun and plan their route to maximise available space in your garden.Prepare yourself to support the developing fruit when it appears with the upturned pot on a stake or a fruit hammock if growing pumpkins up teepee, a trellis or fence.
Improve the soil with manure and compost prior to sowing. Plants grown in situ are always more robust than those grown from seedlings. In cooler climates, be ready to sow after the last frost of spring, or provide protection until frosts have passed. In warmer areas, most pumpkin varieties can be sown all-year round, extending your season and your harvest.
Plant seeds around 3 cm in little mounds about a metre. Plant three seeds in each mound to ensure sufficient germination, removing the weakest plants to allow the strongest vine to grow. Water the growing plants often, particularly as they start developing. Pinch out the growing tip when they reach about a metre to encourage more fruit and side branching. Enable at least 2-3m around each plant, if growing them along the earth, to prevent the vines smothering other crops in your garden.
After the pumpkins start to grow, raise watering and begin until the plants start to shrivel fertilising fortnightly with fish emulsion or liquid solutions. Most pumpkins take around 100 days from sowing to harvest.
Harvest and Storage
Pumpkins should be left on the vine to harden in the sun. They can be harvested, keeping at least 30cm of vine attached if possible, when the vine starts to shrivel. Keep them in a cool, dry place with adequate ventilation. Do not allow the pumpkins to touch as this will increase the chance of them spoiling.
Pumpkins often cross-pollinate, rendering it difficult to develop them trueto sort when you have several range within not simply your garden, but a 2km distance! You might not mind what goes on when varieties normally cross pollinate, as they’ll preferably gather the qualities you adore – but if you need to expand pure options, it’s far better expand only one treasure range from either Cucurbita maxima. Pepo and C. moschata.These species will not cross-pollinate with each other, but they’ll readily cross-pollinate with other varieties within their genus and species (for example ‘Kent’ and ‘Waltham Butternut’ will cross, however ‘Kent’ and ‘Jarrahdale’ will not).
To keep seeds, remove the pulp from a newly harvested pumpkin and place the seeds in a bowl of water to remove excess pulp. Collect the seeds that have sunk, discarding remaining pulp and any seeds that float. Area fertile seeds on a windowsill to dry for just two or three weeks, stirring every few days on paper towels. Once dry, retailer within an envelope in an awesome, dry position until sowing.