Time to get ahead for Halloween
If you’re thinking of growing your own pumpkins this year to help entertain the little, and big, ones at Halloween and to help decorate your home, then we’ve popped together our top tips on when to sow your seeds and how to look after your plants.
May is the perfect month for sowing seeds. Some do benefit from being soaked before planting and do better if they are sown initially into a pot before being transplanted outdoors into the soil.
But you can sow direct to the spot where you wish to grow them outside. Before sowing, remember that pumpkins prefer a sunny, sheltered spot. Follow the sowing instructions on your seed packet to ensure you get the very best from your seeds and, ultimately, your plants.
Space out plants about 2–3 metres apart to allow them to have plenty of growing space.
Protect young plants from slugs and mulch to retain moisture. Flowers are usually pollinated by insects. However, you can give them a helping hand by using a small paint brush and dusting each flower with pollen from another. Take care not to remove all the pollen.
Pumpkins have deep roots, so water only when the weather is very dry.
As your pumpkins develop trim off any leaves shading the fruits to encourage them to ripen. They should be ready to harvest anywhere between 12 and 20 weeks after planting. We advise leaving the fruits on the plants to mature for as long as possible. Once the stems start to split and the skin hardens, the fruit has ripened. Cut off the pumpkin with a decent stalk and leave it in the sun for about 10 days. This hardens the skin, making it easier to carve.
Now all you have to do is enjoy the pleasure they will provide when they are being carved. Enjoy!