Tips for Growing Organic Pumpkins
Growing organic pumpkins is not hard if you know a few tricks
of the trade. First, you’ll need to select a sunny spot
to plant your pumpkins. Before you plant, you’ll also
want to test your soil pH and temperature. A soil pH of around
6.0 is recommended. Soil temperatures should be about 60 degrees.
The best way to test your soil conditions is with an electronic
soil tester. This handy electronic soil tester can analyze
both soil pH and temperature.
It’s important to grow pumpkins in well-draining soil
with plenty of organic material mixed in. A good sandy loam
is appropriate for pumpkin growing. Adding organic compost to
your soil will also guarantee healthy, well-draining soil. If
you don’t already have a compost pile, you should start
one as soon as possible. If you don’t know how, please
see Compost Guide.
Giving your pumpkins an occasional dose of organic fertilizer
can also be useful. See this site for a listing of organic
fertilizers and pesticides.
common method for growing pumpkins is to form small mounds of
soil. The pumpkins vines will slowly spill over the mounds as
they grow. Space your mounds around 4 to 5 feet apart. You can
also plant your pumpkins in rows about 4 to 6 feet apart.
Check out this site from Colorado
State University for some excellent pumpkin planting tips.
Planting Your Pumpkins:
can be planted directly into your garden by seed or with transplants.
If you’re growing your pumpkins in mounds, plant the seeds
about 1 or 2 inches deep, in groups of 5. Plant pumpkins in
rows with 2 seeds per hole and about 2 to 3 feet between each
hole. If you want your pumpkins to mature by Halloween, it’s
a good idea to plant them by May or June, but make sure to keep
tabs on the soil temperature. Wait to plant your seeds until
the risk of frost has past.
you choose rows or mounds, make sure you give your pumpkins
plenty of space. It’s preferable that they are surrounded
by bare ground without other crops growing. After you’ve
planted your pumpkins, frequent weeding is important to keep
your pumpkins healthy as they develop.
Also note that you should avoid planting pumpkins where you’ve
recently had other vine crops such melons. It’s a good
idea to wait at least two years before planting pumpkins in
Growing pumpkin starter plants in your own greenhouse can be
tricky. This site
on plug and transplant production can help.
Much to Water Pumpkins:
prefer soil that isn’t too wet, so you should water them
infrequently. However, make sure that each watering is a good,
deep soaking. A soaker hose or drip irrigation are ideal ways
to water your pumpkins. These methods are also helpful to avoid
certain common diseases such as powdery mildew. Most pumpkins
begin to bloom around late July, so pay close attention to your
watering habits during this time. 1 to 2 inches of water a week
in recommended, depending on where you live. As the pumpkin
fruit starts to develop, reduce watering.
Mulches, Windbreaks, and Row Covers:
and organic mulches can be very useful when growing pumpkins
to reduce weeds and to make full use of your waterings. Place
black plastic mulch over the soil and cut out hole where you
want to plant the seeds or transplants. Use extra soil to weigh
down the plastic at the edges. Plastic mulches are especially
useful for when you want to plant you pumpkins earlier in the
season as they help warm the soil. Organic mulches such as bark
or straw work great but must be used when the soil is warm enough,
around 75 degrees.
are another useful tool when growing pumpkins, especially young,
tender plants. When vines are long and before fruit sets, strong
winds can lift up and damage the vines. You can set up a small
plastic windbreak between two wooden stakes, or use burlap.
Snow fence and erosion control cloth can work as well. As vines
get longer, you can also fasten the vines with a thin layer
of soil spaced out along the runners.
gardeners find row covers and plastic tunnels handy when growing
pumpkins. Plastic tunnels can help protect your pumpkins from
cooler weather. This is especially useful if you want to start
your crops early for an earlier harvest. Fabric row covers and
hotcaps are also options for protecting your plants. Once temperatures
stabilize and/or when blooms appear, you can remove your row
Organic Pumpkin Growing Tips:
larger varieties of pumpkins may need to have their vines trained
to keep the stems from cracking. Ohio State University Extension
recommends that you move the vines about 80 to 90 degrees away
from the pumpkins and they get larger. You can train the vine
back to the direction it was growing about 3 feet in from the
pumpkin. Be extra careful when moving your pumpkins so that
you don’t bend and crack the stem.
your pumpkins develop, the foliage will naturally protect them
from the sun. However, an extra layer of shading maybe useful
to help the pumpkin achieve its maximum size. Try using a shade
structure made of burlap to shade your pumpkins.
If you have a specific question about your pumpkins, you should
contact your local extension agent. This site, the
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
(CSREES) can help.
Many local Universities also have websites devoted to horticulture
Utah State University also has a great PDF
file with tips on how to grow pumpkins.
2005 Pumpkin Growing Tips. All Rights Reserved.
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