Darlings, have you ever considered growing your own pumpkins for Halloween? They are a marvelously easy and fun addition to your garden, and with this weekend marking 110 days until Halloween, now is the time to start growing!
The first step to growing pumpkins is selecting the type of pumpkin you wish to create. Something to carve for Halloween? Something for roasting or baking? Or perhaps (if you have a lot of room) something in the more giant variety? Last year, I planted a successful container garden of carving pumpkins using a packet of Magic Lantern Hybrid Pumpkins seeds I picked up at a home improvement store. These take approximately 100 days to reach maturity, but check the details for your selected variety (online or on the back of the seed packet). Larger varieties can take up to 145 days to grow, so if you want something with a bit more heft, contact your local garden shop or nursery to see if they have sprouted plants ready to go in the ground. You can read more at Informed Democracy on how to grow pumpkins, but here are a few easy tips:
- Pick a sunny spot. Pumpkins love sun and need as much as 6 hours of good sunlight daily.
- Water regularly. Pumpkins are nearly 90% water, so they need regular drinks to get big. Let the soil dry out between waterings, then give them a careful soak. If possible, water only at the start of the day and at the base of the plant (avoid soaking the leaves and fruit) to help prevent powdery mildew.
- Hand pollinate. Part of the magic of growing pumpkins is the beautiful orange-yellow flowers they grow from. The flowers are distinctly male and female, rise in a day, slowly unfurl as a bright banner for pollination for a few hours, then close up and start to die that night. Pollination is key to making big, robust pumpkins, and since the female flowers are only available to pollinate for a day or so, I like to pollinate them by hand (using a paint brush or q-tip) to help things along. You can also use the technique in the video below. Just (ahem) try not to blush, kittens.
Here are a few shots of my little sproutlings from last year as they work their way towards Halloween. These things grow like crazy, so it’s a delight to check their progress every day as they literally grow before your eyes. Good luck, and happy gardening!