In this blog post, we will discuss how to start a pumpkin patch from the ground up. We will go over what you need to consider when starting a pumpkin patch and what steps you can take in order to get started.
A pumpkin patch is a great way for families to spend time together during the fall season. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for kids of all ages, including adults, to learn about growing vegetables and fruits. If you want your own family tradition or if you’re looking for an exciting business venture, then read on!
Table of Content
How to Grow Pumpkins
Despite its exotic origin, pumpkin cultivation in our country usually succeeds well and high yields can be expected. For everything to run optimally, some tips should be followed:
The ideal location
The pumpkin is a plant with a high demand for space. Depending on the species and variety, the pumpkin plant spreads 1.5 to 2 square meters over the bed. Many varieties also tendril such as the popular Hokkaido pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima). A pumpkin vine can be helpful for smaller pumpkin varieties. When planting, for example, a place close to the garden fence where the pumpkin plant can climb up is suitable. Larger pumpkins should rather stay on the ground because of their weight.
Pumpkins are extremely heat-loving plants. Therefore, the location of the plant should be sunny and protected from the wind. It is also important that the soil warms up early. Therefore, light to medium soils such as sandy loam with a good water-holding capacity and a high humus content is suitable. Acidic soils do not provide good conditions for growth; the pH should be at least 6. It is particularly important when selecting a site to observe crop rotation: pumpkin should never be planted directly after other cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae) in the same place. In addition to pumpkin, cucurbits include zucchini, cucumber, and even melon. On the other hand, good previous crops are potatoes, legumes (pulses), and cabbage.
Pumpkin plants are relatively uncomplicated fellows – nevertheless, they are sensitive to low temperatures due to their warm origin. There are two methods of planting when growing pumpkins:
Direct seeding: the pumpkin seeds or seeds are sown in direct seeding only from mid-May after the last after-frosts of the Ice Saints have passed. Otherwise, below 41°F it becomes dangerous for the small plants. Temperatures from 57.2°F are necessary for germination. The sowing depth is 0.78 to 1.57 in. Sowing is done at a distance of 19.68 to 59 in and a row distance of 59 in.
Pre-cultivation: A sensible alternative is pre-cultivation in pots. There, seeds can be sown as early as April, and the young plants can then also be planted in the bed from mid-May. When growing in pots, one seed per pot should be planted 0.78 to 1.57 in deep. The ideal germination temperature is 68°F to 75.2°F. As soon as the first one or two leaves (not the cotyledons) have formed and the frosts have passed, the seedlings are planted in the bed with the same spacing as for direct sowing.
Whether you prefer direct seeding or cultivation should depend on the location. In rather cooler areas the cultivation in the house is worthwhile in any case! In addition, with this method, you can expect an earlier harvest. It is also worthwhile to cover the young pumpkin plants with fleece at the beginning to protect them from late frosts. This protection should be covered only in time before the formation of flowers so that pollination can occur.
Care of pumpkin plants
Overall, care for the pumpkin is not very complex. Nevertheless, some tips should be followed:
Watering pumpkin properly
It is important that the pumpkin plants are watered regularly. This is especially important to note during fruiting, otherwise, the harvest will be less. When watering, the following applies: always pour directly onto the ground and not over the leaves – otherwise there is a risk of rotting. This can also occur in the fruits that lie directly on the ground. In this case, it is advisable to place support such as a board underneath.
Fertilize pumpkin properly
Since pumpkins are heavy feeders, regular fertilization is a good idea. Before sowing or planting the seedlings, the soil should be prepared with a primarily organic fertilizer. The fertilizer is then applied a second time during the growing season.
The pumpkin plant grows quickly and its leaves are very large, so weeds do not have an easy time. But before the sprawling plants almost completely cover the ground, the young plants still have to compete with weeds. Therefore, especially in the beginning, weeds should be removed regularly so that the plant has enough light, nutrients, and water to grow.
How to harvest and store pumpkin
Pumpkins need to be harvested when they are mature. Then the pumpkins will have firm flesh and can develop their typical orange color. If you pick up too early, the pumpkin is still greenish-white or has an insipid taste due to insufficient ripening of sugars in the fruit.
The best time for harvesting is determined by pulling on the stem from each pumpkin plant without making cuts into it: if one easily detaches from its own weight, this means that your plants are ripe enough. You should then harvest all fruits at once so that none rot before being processed or eaten – especially because many pests like mice love them! Pumpkins that grow close together may also over-ripen faster than those further away from where the fruits have more time to ripen.