I’m the type of person that can’t keep a cactus alive; despite the fact that I absolutely adore the thought of growing my own fruit, veg and flowers I have never been all that green-fingered.
That makes the next statement even more unbelievable; this year I grew my own pumpkin from seed (and it’s pretty sizeable too!) For today’s Blogtober post I thought I would share a few tips and tricks to growing your own pumpkin – pieces of advice I learned along the way. It’s not as easy as it looks but it is very rewarding and if I can do it, anyone can!
Before I begin this post I’d just like to apologise for my ‘progress’ photos – they were all taken on my phone for the purpose of sharing on my Instagram stories. Therefore they don’t reflect the standard quality of photography I would usually share on PLF however I think they’re helpful enough to illustrate what I’m writing about, so I’ve popped them in.
Back in April I purchased a packet of pumpkin seeds relatively cheaply from QD Stores. Following the instructions I planted a row of seeds giving my pumpkin plant a good 5-6 months to grow to full size. Out of a full tray only one seed sprouted however. So my first piece of advice is to make sure you sow more than one seed – sow as many as possible to give yourself the best chance of something sprouting. I let my sprout grow on the windowsill where there was plenty of light for around a month. Towards the end of May I moved it from the windowsill in to a large pot in the garden. With more space the plant began to grow rapidly however despite it being placed high-up on a table it was at points attacked by snails who ravaged the leaves. To help protect my plant I started bringing it inside the house whenever it rained (as our garden becomes heaving with snails when it rains) and also at night – this allowed my plant to recover from snail attack and, for the most part to avoid being nibbled on again.
By the time June hit my plant was absolutely massive and it was time to place it in the ground. I picked a spot at the end of the garden – a sun trap with lots of light. Once again snails were my biggest concern so I did a bit of research online. If like me you don’t fancy using pesticides or unnatural ways of deterring pests, I recommend putting a layer of sand around the plant as this helps keep the snails at bay. Of course it’s not completely fool-proof but for the most part it did the job. Whenever it rained I refreshed the sand as damp sand is not effective at keeping snails from your plant.
As the flowers began to form on my plant I made sure to de-head the ones I didn’t think would be viable – leaving just two at all times. I read online that it is best to let one plant grow 1-3 pumpkins at most so they can become a nice, decent size. I opted for two but one quickly died after reaching the size of a grape. During the months of August I would often find my plant wilted in the mornings – after a quick Google search I discovered that a wilting plant means heat distress – so to avoid this I made sure to give it a good water every morning and every evening – pumpkin plants need a lot of water during the warmer spells. Eventually I had one small pumpkin that looked like it was viable. It had grown out on to the pathway which worked out better as I was able to put a ring of sand around it and access it easier. This came in handy when it rained as I found myself constantly picking snails off of it!
By the end of August my pumpkin was a good size and growing rapidly each day – at this point I was checking on it each day, feeling around the sides and bottom for any snails / pests and ensuring it got plenty of water. I finally picked it from the vine at the end of September when it was completely orange and the plant / leaves had died.
- Protecting your pumpkin is important. Whilst it’s in a pot bring it inside at night and when it rains. Once you have planted it in the ground make sure to pick off any snails that may you may find on the plant.
- Sand is an effective way of keeping snails at bay – layer a circle of sand around your plant / pumpkin and refresh it every time it rains.
- Pumpkin plants are prone to heat distress and wilting. To avoid this make sure you water it early each morning and then later in the evening.
- De-head your plant of flowers regularly. For best results allow just two pumpkins to grow per plant.
Have you ever attempted to grow a pumpkin or do you think you might in the future? Let me know in the comments below!