How to grow pumpkins

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun

Takes just:

15 minutes

Growing pumpkins is easy and great fun. Pumpkins are rampant growers so they benefit from a large root run, plenty of moisture and regular feeding. For this reason, they are best grown in the open ground, or a large half barrel. When planning your patch, be sure to allow sufficient space for the fully mature crop.

You will need

Pumpkin seeds

Small pots

Seed compost

Heated propagator or warm windowsill

Well-rotted manure or compost

Vented bell cloche

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Sow seeds individually in small pots of good quality compost, from mid-March to mid-June. Place in a heated propagator, or warm windowsill, and keep just moist.

When seedlings are about 10cm tall, harden off thoroughly. once frosts have passed, plant them out in deeply dug soil, into a large hole filled with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.

Mound soil in a ring at least 45cm-wide around the base of the plant to divert water to the roots. Water well and cover each plant with a vented bell cloche to protect against cool weather.

Pumpkins have female and male flowers. Males only last a day, so remove them as they fade to reduce the risk of grey mould. if sun levels are low, take out leaves overshadowing the fruits (take out all that have mildew) as this encourages ripening.

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Water regularly, keeping the soil moist at all times. The stress of drought causes the plant to make a greater proportion of male flowers and fruit is only borne on female flowers. Plentiful water is also needed for the fruit to swell.

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