Introduction to Planting Pumpkin Seeds:
A lot of gardeners out there get into growing pumpkins, and not just for the holidays either. One of the reasons is because they are very easy to grow and they are one of those plants that just makes you feel good to see that big orange fruit grow on something you started from a tiny little seed. There isn't a lot of technical point to cover with growing pumpkins specifically, but there are some things you should consider.
In this article we will cover the basics of pumpkin growing and hopefully provide you with a foundation to help you get started right. As with many plants, a lot of the tips and techniques below do not just apply to pumpkins, but to many gardening plants in general. But rather than make you sift through dozens of articles, we will give you a step by step guide on planting pumpkin seeds.
Choosing Your Pumpkins:
Before you begin planting pumpkin seeds, you will first have to choose among the many different varieties that you could grow. There are a lot of options to choose from so this part might take you a little while to decide. If you are looking for the pumpkins used at Halloween for jack o lanterns, those are Connecticut field pumpkins and those typically grow in the 10 to 20 pound range, however some have been known to grow 2x that size. While these pumpkins are great for decoration, they aren't very good tasting and aren't well suited for making pies out of.
Luckily however there is nothing that says you have to grow just one type of pumpkin. You can easily grow a patch of pumpkins for Halloween, then another patch for making pies, and yet another patch for, well…just because! There are quite a few varieties that you can choose for planting pumpkins seeds, and each one has its own distinct look. While many of them are the traditional orange color, some of them will be white or red or pink, it just all depends on the variety. The most important thing is to plant a variety you will have fun with because that's what it's all about!
Conditions for Planting Pumpkin Seeds:
Like most fruit bearing plants, pumpkins are happiest in a location that is sunny, as much sun as you can give them in fact! As a general rule with vegetables you will want no less than six hours a day of direct sunlight, but more is always better. The more light you give them, the better your results will be. If you can't provide them with at least six hours, pick a new spot or don't plant them. There is no sense wasting your energy and being disappointed in the end, if you are not able to provide them adequate sunlight.
When you can begin planting pumpkin seeds is a little different than some other vegetables. Generally most people start planting after the last frost but pumpkins you are going to want to wait a few weeks until the weather consistently stays above 70 degrees and the ground is not always soggy from rain. Pumpkins are not fast growing fruit so you need to make sure you are timing your growing season properly to give them a minimum of 3 months growing time, and up to 5 months without any frost. In some climates this means starting your seeds indoors and then transferring them outside when the weather is suitable.
Dedicate Space for Planting Pumpkin Seeds:
Most people are well aware that pumpkin plants take up a lot of space. These vines are extremely vigorous and will cover every square inch of garden you allow them to. Each vine that shoots out can stretch as far as thirty feet long and it will have many offshoots. Now this is not to say that you cannot train them and prune them so they don't crowd out other plants, it just means you need to plan accordingly when you choose a site.
One nice thing about planting pumpkin seeds is you can also train them to grow vertically instead of horizonally. If given the chance they will shoot out little tendrils that will grab a hold of anything they can reach and start climbing. If you have a nearby shed you can consider allowing them to grow up to the roof and it's like having an extra garden where you couldn't before. One way to accomplish this is to drive three inch long nails part way into the shed walls, then train the vines to grow up them with their tendrils. Before you know it you'll have another garden up in the air. This also works well with fences and trellises.
Caring for Your New Pumpkins:
The best part about planting pumpkin seeds is getting to watch the pumpkins start to pop up and grow. At this point if you have given them the right growing conditions, they will pretty much be on auto-pilot from here on out. There are however a few things you can do to help them along. Fertilizing is always a common concern gardeners have. When do you fertilize?, what do you use?, how much is too much?
You will notice on just about every variety of pumpkin seed packets that they tell you to always plant in "rich soil", and this is more than just an obvious statement. The best thing you can do for your pumpkins, as well as any other vegetables you might be growing, is to start off with soil that you have already added the necessary amendments to before planting.
A good healthy dose of compost or other organic matter, tilled into the soil before planting is ideal. Since pumpkins are huge feeder plants, it's not a bad idea to give them a dose or two of nutrients throughout the growing season. Your local garden center will have a wide range of products to fit the bill and get you started planting pumpkin seeds fast.
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