The most important question that needs answering when growing pumpkins is what variety you want to grow, there is a huge range to choose from, and you can mix and match. When growing pumpkins make sure the site gets full sun for at least 6 hours. In cold climates sow seeds indoors or in a greenhouse so they can be planted immediately after the last frost to gain the full benefit of short summers. It’s a good idea to have cloches available if by chance you are tempted to plant a little earlier or a late frost threatens.
Ensure the soil is well prepared beforehand with lots of well-rotted organic matter to create a loose, fertile, well-draining medium. Modify heavy soils with well-rotted manure or compost. Work it into the garden in the fall, never use fresh manure in the spring or summer, because if you do, you risk burning the roots and robbing the soil of nitrogen.
Growing pumpkins can be a cause for concern for the novice gardener as they are very vigorous and love to sprawl; a single vine will easily grow up to 30 feet and throw out other vine shoots along the way. You can however prune and train the vine to go where you want it to. Because the vines are prickly wear protective clothing and gloves when handling them. They are great climbers and have been harvested on roofs of sheds; you can train them to climb fences easily or grow up a trellis. Water is a necessity when growing pumpkins, it is always best to water them at ground level where the roots are, drip systems and soaker hoses, like this’Swan Soaker Hose, are best for this and are reasonably priced.
About 2 months after planting the male flowers appear, and then the females, they last only for a few hours so the bees need to get their job done quickly. The vine then starts its rapid growth and you need to keep it in check, if you’re restricted for the room, just prune it to go where you want them to be.
The culmination of your efforts in growing pumpkins is when you notice the babies on the stalks, as they grow bigger, gently rotate them so they don’t get damaged or bruised from their contact with the soil. Wait till they finish filling out or go a deep orange and remove with a couple of inches of vine attached.
Growing pumpkins alongside corn and beans are the classic Native American combination sometimes called the Three Sisters. The corn supports the climbing beans and the pumpkin vines creep among the corn stalks acting as a mulch, suppressing weeds and keeping the soil moist.
Growing pumpkins in your garden can provide you with jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween and can be used for pies, cookies, and soup.