Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News Article for July 10, 2017
Just as watermelons are a part of July 4th celebrations, pumpkins are a fall fest and Halloween tradition. If you want to have pumpkins for the fall, then you will need to start your preparations now.
Growers who want to sell Halloween pumpkins need to plant about July 20 to have them in the market and ready before Halloween. Home gardeners who are growing for their own use can get away with planting a little later since they do not need to market their crop. Check the days from planting to harvest as it varies between varieties but usually is about 90-100 days.
Pumpkins are a great tool to instill the passion of growing into the next generation of gardeners. What kid does not like to see things grow, especially pumpkins?
Get the growing area set up to accommodate the type of pumpkins that you plan to grow. Pumpkins require enough space for their vines, but you can opt to grow bush or semi-vining types that require less growing area. If you were growing on traditional rows that are 40-48 inches apart, you should only plant every other row. You need 6-8 feet between rows and room for vines to run.
Apply pre-plant fertilizer at the rate of 6 pound of 8-8-8 or the equivalent per 100 feet of row. Come back and sidedress with 2 pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row when vines begin to run.
Plant 5 to 6 seeds per hill and space the hills out every 5 to 6 feet within the row. Thin your plants down to 1 to 2 plants per hill once seeds germinate.
There are several sizes of pumpkins that you can grow.
Giant pumpkins are those varieties that can win the top prize for the largest pumpkin. They are fun to grow and very interesting to the young gardeners. (You will have to top 2,261 pounds to claim the U.S. record.) Recommended giant varieties are squash types and include Atlantic Giant, Prize Winner and Big Max.
Large varieties are considered to be those that will attain 10-30 pounds. These pumpkins are sized appropriately for carving at Halloween. Recommended large pumpkin varieties would include Connecticut Field, Aspen, Big Autumn, Sorcerer, Aladdin, Cinderella, Appalachian, Spirit, Pro Gold 510, Gold Rush, Gold Standard and Lumina, which is white.
Medium-size varieties will typically run between 5 and 10 pounds and make great pie pumpkins and smaller carving pumpkins. Recommended medium varieties would include Small Sugar, Neon and Orange Smoothie.
There are also small (1-2 pounds) and very small (less than 1 pound) varieties that are used for decorations. Recommended varieties would include Baby Bear, Jack Be Little, Wee-B-Little and Hooligan. Also consider Gooligan and Casperita, which are white.
For those who have limited growing space, Orange Smoothie (5-8 pounds) grows on a bushy plant that is non-vining, and Sorcerer (15-22 pounds) is semi-vining.
Cushaws are striped pumpkins that have a tapering neck and a bulbous bottom. Recommended varieties include Cushaw Gold Stripe and Cushaw Green Stripe.
Pumpkins will be ready to harvest when their fruit develop their color and the rind is hard to penetrate with your thumbnail. Yellowing vines is also a good indicator of maturity. Leave 3-5 inches of stem attached to your pumpkins for a more attractive look and longer shelf life.