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Grow Your Own Pumpkins !

A mix of vibrant pumpkin varieties is a valuable staple in your kitchen garden!

Pumpkin is one of the easiest garden vegetables to grow. If you have space in your garden for them, they are a relatively maintenance free. Pumpkin vines grow best in a location with lots of sunlight and good air circulation.

Did you know Pumpkins are also famous during Halloween? 

Modern Halloween comes from the Irish festival Samhain. Tradition dictated huge bonfires built in fields, and it was believed that fairy spirits lurked in the shadows. To distract these spirits from settling into houses and farms, people would carve rudimentary faces into large turnips, and set candles inside. 

As pumpkin carving grew into a multi-million dollar industry, American farmers began to examine the specific types of pumpkins they grew, and breed new lines of squash specifically for carving. Massachusetts farmer John Howden developed the Howden pumpkin in the 1960s, and it is still the most popular carving pumpkin in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Pumpkin? 

In Hindi Pumpkin is called as Kadoo. Pumpkins come in unique shapes, sizes and hues and have diverse flavors. They are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium and fibre. 

Where to grow Pumpkins?

Ideally grown on the edge of a garden bed where it receives adequate sunlight. As with most plants, they thrive in loose, well-drained soil and under direct sunlight which allows the fruit to ripen evenly. 

Add neem cake or neem solution to the soil a week before planting. Mix organic matter, wood ash and well-rotted manure into the soil.

The mound should be about 8-12 inches high and around 2 feet circumference at the base. This can also be done on a long raised ridge with the same proportions. Though they are considered monsoon crops, pumpkins can be grown throughout the year — successive planting will provide a steady supply of fruits.

How to sow Pumpkin seeds?

Soak the seeds in warm water for a day to promote germination. The seeds can be started in a nursery and shifted later, but for best results sow directly in prepared beds. If they are to be planted on flat ground, keep a distance of atleast 3 feet for the vines to spread out. For raised soil, flatten the top of the heap and press the seeds an inch deep — 3 seeds per mound or 3 feet apart if it is on a ridge. For terrace gardens, use large deep troughs with at least 1.5 feet depth and sow 2 seeds in each.

How to care for Pumpkins?

Once the seeds have sprouted, restrict weed growth around the seedlings with an organic mulch of leaves or grass cuttings. Remove weak seedlings at this stage. As the long vines supply nutrition to the plants, they should be well-maintained by trimming dead leaves and weak side vines. 

Watering is best done early morning or in the evening, preferably by drip tubes which supply water directly to the roots; excess water on the leaves can cause powdery mildew. 

Protect against aphids, ants and other pests by spraying with a neem solution; peppermint solution is another insect repellent which can be sprayed once a week. Look for squash bugs under the leaves and remove them by hand. 

Once the flowers appear, sprinkle wood ash around the plant on alternate weeks to supply potash. Pumpkins produce male and female flowers on the same plant and are naturally pollinated by insects. To ensure this, pollination can be done manually.

Identify the flowers — the female flower has a small fruit at the base and the male is distinguishable by its absence. Rub the male flower over the female flower to transfer pollen. This will increase chances of healthy well-proportioned vegetables.

Female flower

How to harvest Pumpkin?

Most pumpkin varieties can be harvested after three months, when the fruit has ripened on the vine. Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the stem has started to dry and the skin of the pumpkin begins to harden. Remove from the vine leaving about an inch stem.If the stem breaks, the pumpkin won’t cure or store well.

That’s all you need to know about growing pumpkins in your kitchen garden. Pumpkin has so many uses in the kitchen so learning how to grow pumpkins successfully will be truly rewarding experience.

Happy Halloween!

Happy-gardening

Easy to Grow Vegetables: 5 Simple Veggies To Grow At Home For Beginners

Heaven helps those who help themselves

-Samuel Smile

Hey! All you folks out there who don’t have vegetable gardens, and fantasize about having your own little vegetable garden, yet are petrified with how to begin and what to grow. Read more to learn about this.

Read more

Grow your Greens!

Did you know that very often greens that we buy in shops (spinach, Coriander, Mint etc) are not grown in full fledged fields but in unhygienic places like near gutters/ sewers, along the river side etc.?  Chances of falling sick after eating these greens is very high. One would have to follow the strictest cleaning procedures for them to be ok for consumption and even then you can’t be sure.Grow your own vegetables

One of the ways we can avoid this is by growing our own greens. Growing green leafy vegetables and herbs is the most rewarding of all vegetable gardening experiences as they grow fast – from seed to harvest taking as less as 30 days at times. We will look at 4 greens that can be grown easily without much effort.

Different Greens that you can grow at home and the care required

There is a wide variety of greens that you can grow at home. Greens grow equally well in containers as their root system is not very deep and I prefer containers as they can be transported anywhere. Also this way they are away from my pets trampling over them.Some of the ones you can start with are Spinach, Lettuce, Leaf Amaranth and some daily herbs like Mint, Fenugreek, Basil, Coriander, Parsley.

Spinach-in-the-garden1

Spinach grows so easily and effortlessly at home. You can grow it in any container that’s at least 6 inches deep and a feet wide. Spinach likes a lot of sun but not too much that it burns the leaves. So plant it in semi-sun or an area which receives sun for about 4-5 hrs a day. Spinach is hence very well suited for balcony gardening too. Spinach seeds are small, black and really tiny. You can sow these seeds in a container with just coco peat or a mixture of coco peat, compost and red mud, cover it with a tiny layer of and water just to keep the soil moist. You will be able to see tiny seedlings in 2-3 days and within a month, you would have bright green Spinach leaves ready for harvest. Harvest the outer big leaves and leave the small ones inside to grow. If you keep planting fresh seeds every month, you never would have to buy Spinach again.

lettuce

Iceberg Lettuces or Crisp Head lettuces need cool weather so don’t think of growing them in harsh summer conditions. They also need ample sunlight and good watering. It is a good idea to first grow the seedlings indoors under partial sunlight and then once the first 3-4 leaves appear, thin the seedlings or spread them out into the container each one about 10 inches away from the other. The distance between the seedlings is absolutely important for the Iceberg Lettuce as it needs space for the head to grow. As the plants grow, give them a dose of compost tea or some organic manure introduced at the sides of the tray. Water them well and when the head is formed and is between the size of an apple and a coconut, you can harvest them – this takes approximately 45 days but can vary. If you’ve planted many lettuces, you can space the harvesting to just make sure you don’t end up with all fully grown lettuces harvested on one day.

leaf amaranth

Leaf Amaranth is very similar to Spinach in the way it is grown only that it is hardier than spinach and resists medium to harsh sunlight. The leaves are used just like spinach and can be used in chinese cuisine for stir fry dishes and soups. Indian cooking uses them for oh so many dishes and the tangy leaves just lend enough flavor to your dish. Scatter the seeds similar to spinach in the container with the potting mixture. Cover with a thin amount of soil or potting medium – the usual logic is that one should cover the seed with soil for about three times the size of the seed. Since the Amaranth seed is just a tiny dot, you would need a very thin layer of soil. Sowing to harvest time is again just 30 days.

methi leavesFenugreek or Methi (Azadirachta indica) is very easy to grow again and the average Indian doesn’t even have to go buy seeds for it. Methi seeds that we use for cooking at home can be used for growing Methi/Fenugreek plants.  Fenugreek is used for a number of indian dishes. The leaves are slightly bitter and the cut and grow back method doesn’t usually work here. One can harvest as soon as 2-3 weeks post sowing and the whole plant is plucked out in most cases. Small thinnings of the plant are used for certain dishes and salads while the grown plant is used widely. The leaves are also often dried out in the sun and the resultant crushed powder is called ‘Kasoori Methi” which is used for seasoning.