Pumpkins are a big part of our growing experience. Halloween wouldn’t be the same without them. We love to try new ones each year as the variety of tastes colours and textures is unbelievable.
How To Grow Pumpkins With Kids
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Each year we have a contest to grow our own pumpkin plant. Instead of judging on size though we focus on weight. That way kids who grow lots of little ones have the same chance as my son who will always choose a giant variety.
Personally, I love a challenge but my heart and taste buds lie with growing for taste.My favourite varieties are;
Uchiki Kuri– a small but richly flavoured variety that gives soups and roasts a delicious flavour.
Snowman, an almost white skinned variety with yellow centre. Absolutely delicious and it keep well into Christmas.
Crown Prince a traditional variety and it performs wonderfully in my cooler climate. keeps well too I still had 2 left well into January!
and Festival, a lovely small variety idea for growing on a patio or in a pot.
The kids also love these Tromboncinos that we can eat as courgettes, then when they age a little as a pumpkin and the left overs get dried and painted and turned into bird feeders for the winter. Brilliant!
Despite common belief, pumpkins are not a vegetable they’re a fruit. They have seeds and are slightly sweet.
Pumpkins are so incredibly versatile and can be used to make a huge amount of recipes. They store well and come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. So whats not to love?
When To Grow
Pumpkins need heat so they need to be sown after the last frost. We begin sowing the seed indoors in mid-April and eventually plant out at the end of May.
How To Grow
Pumpkins are so easy to grow, and start to produce flowers and fruit very quickly after planting.
These plants need rich soil full of well rotten manure, lots of warm sunshine, lots of water and NO cold nights.
TO SOW. Mid -April to Mid -May
- Soak your chosen seen in warm water overnight to help soften the seed. Its not essential but can help the seed germinate quicker.
- Fill your pot with any good multipurpose compost. In the UK, we sow the seeds indoors in mid-April.
- Pumpkin seeds can rot if the get too wet so it’s important when you pop your seed into the pot that you lay the seed on its narrow edge so the water runs off, not flat on the soil which encourages the water to sit on top of the seed.
- Cover with 1cm of soil and keep it warm.
- We keep ours on the kitchen table which is next to a sunny windowsill until the leaves appear.
- Once the leaves explode out of the soil(Seriously! it can be really dramatic) we put the pot out into the plastic greenhouse gradually more each day which keeps the pumpkin a little warmer and protects it from frost until it’s hardened off a ready to stay outside.
Tip: You can sow seed saved from a bought pumpkin.
Just scoop of the seeds and wash and dry them. Leave to dry for 1 week before saving them in a paper envelope until sowing time.
Planting Out Your Pumpkins
When the frosts have finished and your ready to plant out your prize pumpkin simply dig in lots of well-rotted manure or garden compost into your planting hole and leave this slightly mounded up. Pumpkins are very hungry plants and need LOTS of feeding to produce lots of amazing fruit.
Carefully tip out your pumpkin and plant into the hole slightly raised on the top of your mound. Pumpkins like soil that keeps food and water available to them (water retentive soil) but they hate sitting in water and getting wet. Planting them on a mound helps keep them away from any excess water.
When firming my pumpkins into the hole, we like to make a dip in a circle around the plant to help focus the water near the plants.
Looking After Your Plants
Digging in a 2 litre bottle upside down next to the plant so we can water directly to the roots is also a great idea.
Pumpkins need a lot of water so keep them wet as often as you can and try to water the soil or roots and not the leaves.
Each plant will produce lots of small fruit, however, if you’re looking for larger fruits you have to cut off the growing tip once it has produced 2 to 3 fruits. This encourages your pumpkin to focus more on the fruit it has already made and start swelling them up.
This is also a great way to keep the plant compact and bushy. Left unchecked, most pumpkins will sprawl far and wide.
Usually It takes 90-120 days to harvest. Check the seed packet for the variety you are using to check.
A Bit Of Pumpkin Fun
If you’re looking for something unusual to do with your pumpkin. Why not try putting one of your baby pumpkins inside a square plastic milk carton. As it grows it will take on the shape of the container and end up with square pumpkins!!
You could also try tying a rope around your pumpkin and watch it grow into an hour-glass shape.
Get in touch and tell us your ideas for your pumpkins!! While your at it, why not PIN this for later??
Halloween pumpkin Tip!!
An easy way to carve a pumpkin for Halloween
Lightly scratch a face into your baby pumpkin, breaking the skin. As your pumpkin grows so will the face and best of all you can still use your pumpkin for an amazing pot of soup afterwards, instead of wasting it.
Some AMAZING ways to use pumpkin and winter squashes include:
Butternut soup and Pumpkin muffins
Fallen in love with growing pumpkins? Why not check out:
- How to grow carrots with kids
- How to grow courgettes with kids
- How to grow sweet peas with kids
- How to grow beetroot with kids.
- How to grow fruit with kids
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