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.
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.
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.