Pumpkin

Pumpkins grow best in warm sunny conditions and well drained soils are essential.

Preparing the vegetable patch

In spring make planting holes which are the width and depth of a garden spade. Fill the holes with well-rotted manure or home compost and replace the soil to form a mound over each hole. Space the mounds at least one metre apart.

Sowing the seeds

Sow seeds in mid to late April. Sow one seed each in a 7cm plastic pot in potting compost. You can make good potting compost from your home compost by mixing one part home compost to one part sharp sand and one part top soil or leaf mould.

Sow the seeds 2cm deep and in good light to maintain growth.

Planting

When the saplings are established and frosts are over, water the mounds and transplant one plant into the top of each mound.

Keep well watered and take care not to wet the leaves in strong sunlight -early morning is a good time to water. Give organic liquid feed as required when the fruits start to grow. You can create a liquid feed – known as compost tea – by putting home compost in to an old pair of tights or muslin and using this in your watering can or water butt like a giant tea bag.

Growing the plants

Trailing varieties of pumpkins produce many side shoots. These need to have their leading shoots snipped off, leaving 60cm from the main stem. Spread the side shoots evenly around the plant.

Varieties

JACK O’ LANTERN
The ‘Halloween Pumpkin’! Fruits are bright orange and slightly elongated making a perfect ‘head’. Weight 4-5kg (9-11lb) at maturity, keeps well.

ROUGE VIF D’ETAMPS
A large flat, heavily ribbed pumpkin with bright orange-red skin. The fruit can weigh 10kg (22lb) and can be stored for a long time.

HUNDREDWEIGHT
A popular edible pumpkin, as it name suggests can grow to a large size. Good keeper.

ATLANTIC GIANT
Not for the small garden!! This pink/orange pumpkin has the potential to reach 450kg (that’s nearly 1000lb!) Although average weights are around 100kg (220lb) and 30-40kg if you do not prune (66-88lb). Each plant needs approximately 70 or more sq. ft. If you don’t want to produce a record breaker, try harvesting at 4-5kg (8-10lb) for a Halloween pumpkin and a delicious pie filler. Can be kept for 2-4 months after harvesting.

BABY BEAR
High yielding ‘mini’ pumpkin with exceptional uniformity. Fruits should be harvested when about 1.5kg (3lb) in weight. The naked seeds can be toasted as a highly nutritious snack.

TRIPLE TREAT
As the name suggests, this is a three in one pumpkin seed. You can eat the tasty orange flesh, use it as a Halloween pumpkin and eat the seeds, as they are naked. They can be eaten raw or toasted and have a nutty flavour. The orange skinned, oblong shaped fruit grow to 3-4kg (6.6-8.8lb) and should be harvested from September.

JACK BE LITTLE
This gorgeous little orange fruit is perfect for pumpkin soup. Harvest late summer to autumn.