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How to Care for Pumpkins

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How to Care for Pumpkins

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Pumpkins are ready for harvest in early fall. image by nicmcc/Flickr.com

Overview

The word pumpkin originates from the Greek word pepon, which means "large melon." Pumpkins are actually squash that resemble gourds in appearance. Pumpkins can grow in a wide range of sizes, from 1 pound to over 1,000 pounds in weight. They are commonly used for cooking and for many traditional activities, including carving. Pumpkins can be orange, yellow, green, white, red or gray in coloration, and produce flowers which are typically yellow.

Step 1

Plant pumpkin seeds in late May, once the threat of frost has passed. Form a hill out of soil that is about 18 inches in height, with gradually sloping edges. Plant four to five seeds about 1 inch deep into each hill.

Step 2

Water pumpkin seeds two to three times a week until the plants emerge from the soil and show considerable growth. Remove the two or three weakest pumpkin vines from the hill by cutting the growth off at soil level. Continue watering one to two times a week after the vine has become established.

Step 3

Cultivate the surface of the soil surrounding the pumpkins to remove any weeds. Use a hoe and only dig to a depth of about 2 inches to ensure the roots of the pumpkins are not damaged.

Step 4

Choose four or five pumpkins on the vine to keep, and remove any smaller fruit or blossoms. This will direct the nutrients into the chosen pumpkins, and will make them larger and healthier.

Step 5

Harvest pumpkins during early fall, when they have reached a deep, orange color, the rind is hard and the stem easily breaks off of the fruit. Always wear gloves when harvesting pumpkins, as the stems form small, sharp thorns.

Tips and Warnings

  • Insecticides should not be used on pumpkins, as they can kill the bees which are necessary to pollinate the blossoms. If insecticide is necessary, apply during the late evening, after the blossoms have closed and no bees are present. Take care not to dampen the foliage when watering, as wet leaves are susceptible to fungi and diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Gloves

References

  • Cornell University Vegetable Growing Guides: Pumpkins
  • Growing Pumpkins
  • Book: Lasagna Gardening; Patricia Lanza; 1999
Keywords: pumpkins, harvesting pumpkins, pumpkin seeds

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.

Photo by: nicmcc/Flickr.com