Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Grow your own Pumpkin for Halloween

Date Posted: 01 May 2015

Lit Halloween Pumpkin 1
 
Halloween may be a long time away but if you want to grow your own Halloween Pumpkin instead of buying one from the supermarket now is the time to get sowing. Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes and colours, from white ones to deep orange ones, baby ones to giant 'competition' pumpkins.  Pumpkins Seeds are quite large and perfect for little fingers to sow, the plants need quite a lot of water, food and space (depending on the variety) but they are great fun to grow with the end reward of your own home grown Halloween Pumpkin or some delicious Pumpkin Soup or Pie.
 
You will need
Sowing your seeds 
Fill your small pots with compost to about 1cm from the top, to allow for watering. Make a small hole about 2.5cm deep with your finger and insert the pumpkin seed on its side (not flat). Cover over with compost, label and water. Place your pots on a sunny, warm windowsill or in a propagator and water if the compost feels dry. Your Pumpkins seedlings should appear in about two weeks.
 
Growing on
When roots start to appear through the bottom of the pots transfer into 11cm pots and grow on until established. Before planting your pumpkins outside you will need to ‘harden them off’ this means that you are getting them used to being planted outdoors, for about a week, during the day, stand your pots outside somewhere sheltered bringing them in at night or place in a Cold frame, with the lid open during the day and closed at night. After all risk of frost has passed plant out your Pumpkins ideally somewhere sunny and sheltered and dig lots of well-rotted manure or compost into the soil.
 
Aftercare
Add mulch around the seedlings, water and feed regularly with a liquid fertilizer (when the fruits appear). Remove some fruits before they develop leaving two or three healthy fruits per plant to reach their maximum size. As the fruits grow bigger place straw underneath to prevent them from rotting. When the pumpkins are fully grown remove any excess leaves to allow light to the fruits this will help them to ripen. If there is a risk of early frost cover your Pumpkins with fleece.
 
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Harvesting
To allow the fruit to mature and ripen leave them on the stems for as long as possible, when the stems begin to crack and the skin feels tough the fruit can be picked. Leave a long stem on the fruit when you cut it off the plant. If you want to store your Pumpkins they will need to ‘cure’ outdoors in the sun for about a week, protecting them from frost, or place in a greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame until well ripened. Pumpkins can be stored for up to six months.
 
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Have a go at growing Pumpkins you could have a competition at School, at Home or amongst friends for the biggest or heaviest one you've grown from seed.

 

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