The Pumpkin Patch
When sweater weather arrives, our first inclination is to run for the nearest pumpkin spice latte. We adorn our autumnal doorways, walkways, porches, and mantles with colorful pumpkins. It’s tradition to carve jack-o-lanterns at Halloween and serve pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Fall is synonymous with pumpkins!
These days, the selection of pumpkins to commemorate the fall season is unlimited. More than just the standard-issue orange, pumpkins are now available in unlimited sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. If you would like to try growing your own pumpkin décor and fodder this fall, the time to begin is now.
There are a couple of details that you will have to address before you begin growing pumpkins.
- Peruse your local Master Nursery® Garden Center’s seed aisle to select the size, shape, and color of the pumpkins that you wish to grow.
- Be certain to read the seed packet thoroughly, especially taking note of the “days to maturity.” You will want your pumpkins to ripen before Halloween and therefore must count the number of days to maturity backward from this holiday to give your pumpkins time to fully mature. Be sure to add a week or two to your calculation just to be safe. Most small pumpkins take about 100 days to mature and therefore would be best planted sometime in July.
- Pumpkin vines grow very long. Be sure that you have enough room to accommodate this plant. If you are short on space, seek out compact “bush” varieties or grow miniature and small pumpkins that are easily supported with trellising.
- Choose a sunny location and create a soil mound using Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region]. Planting your seeds into a small hill is similar to planting in a raised bed. The soil will warm quicker, drain better, and provide more room for long vines as they cascade down the mound. Forming your planting hill with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region] will guarantee that your pumpkins are getting the healthiest start possible.
- Sow pumpkin seeds one inch deep, five seeds to each mound.
- Water the mounds after planting and give each one a deep soaking once a week as the plants mature. Most edibles require an inch of water each week. If Mother Nature provides an inch of moisture, you may adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
- Pumpkins are heavy feeders! Feed pumpkin vines monthly using a high-quality, organic fertilizer like Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® All Purpose Food. Broadcast the granular fertilizer in a two-foot circle around and including the mound. Gently work the fertilizer into the soil. Using organic products, especially when growing edibles, will bring you peace of mind knowing that your growing practices are the safest possible for your family and the environment.
- You will know when your pumpkins are ready to harvest as the rinds will become firm and the color will be the correct shade selected.
- Cut mature pumpkins from the vine using sharp, clean pruning shears. Be sure to leave a bit of the stem attached for decorative purposes.
How do you plan to use your pumpkins? Here are a few suggestions of our favorites for carving, consuming, and decorating. Do a little research on your own and find a pumpkin that falls into more than one category, and it will serve double duty this fall.
Carving pumpkins have a skin that is thinner than other pumpkins making carving less strenuous.
- Connecticut Field – Large
- Jack O Lantern – Medium
- Captain Jack – Tall
- Tom Fox – Long Handle
Eating pumpkins have a sweet-tasting flesh, perfect for pies, soups, and roasting.
- Long Island Cheese
- New England Pie or Sugar
- Winter Luxury
Pumpkins used in fall décor come in unusual colors and shapes and may even have a textured rind.
- Blaze – Flattened-round, orange striped
- Grizzly Bear – Medium, round, tan-skinned with warts
- Flat Stacker – Flat top, white
- Jarrahdale – Medium to large, slate-gray rind
- Spark – Small tabletop pumpkin, yellow-orange rind\
Be sure to visit your local Master Nursery® Garden Center for your seeds and Bumper Crop® products.