PumpkinsGrowing Pumpkins & Winter Squash

One of the most fun vegetables to grow is the pumpkin, especially for children, who can't wait to harvest big, colourful pumpkins to make lanterns for Halloween! Pumpkin soup is also a tasty treat, but don't stop there, they have so much more to offer!

Pumpkins

Benefits of the Pumpkin

Drawback

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  Sowing
  Growing
  Harvesting
  Pumpkin Varieties
  Winter Squash Varieties
  Problems
How to Sow Pumpkins & Winter Squashes

Pumpkin SeedlingsSowing Pumpkins & Winter Squashes

When to Sow

  • Sow Indoors: April to May
  • Plant Out: May to June
  • Sow Outdoors: June

How to Grow Pumpkins

Pumpkins and virtually all Winter Squashes can be grown in the same way, just take caeful note whether they are bushing or trailing habit, as trailing varieties can be quite space hungry!

  • Sow indoors from April to May
  • Sow outdoor seeds when ground is warm and no chance of frosts.
  • Plants grown indoors should be hardened off and transplanted when frost risk has gone.

Pumpkins are hungry plants and need space and plenty of compost / rotted manure.

 

 

Growing on Pumpkins

Pumpkin SeedlingsPumpkin Seedlings

Growing Pumpkins

You can use the below instructions and apply them to virtually all Winter Squashes too!

1. Two weeks before planting or sowing seed outdoors, make planting pockets 1.8m (6ft) apart. Do this by making a hole about a spade’s depth, width and height and fill with a mixture of compost or well-rotted manure and soil. Sprinkle a general fertiliser over the soil. Plant one plant or seed on top of each pocket.

2. For indoor-raised seedlings, plant outside on top of your planting pocket in late may to early June, hardening off (acclimatising) before doing so. Do this by moving them into a coldframe for a week or, if you don’t have a coldframe, move plants outdoors during the day, then bring in at night for a week. The following week, leave them out in a sheltered spot all day and night.  Create a moat so water stays where it is needed.

You can also grow pumpkins in growbags or containers (at least 45cm/18in wide). Plant one or two per growbag, or one per container.

Planting out pumpkin

3. Keep the soil constantly moist by watering around the plants not over them. As they need plenty of water, sink a 15cm (6in) pot alongside the plants when planting out. Water into this and it will help ensure the water goes right down to the roots and does not sit around the neck of the plant, which can lead to rotting.

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4. Feed every 10-14 days with a high potash liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to swell.

Examples: Any of the quality Tomato Liquid Feeds,

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5. The fruit of pumpkins should be supported off the soil on a piece of tile or glass.

 

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Harvesting Pumpkins & Winter Squash

Pumpkin HarvestingPumpkin Harvesting

Tips for Harvesting

  • Let the fruits mature on the plant, till October at least.
  • After cutting let them ripen in the sun to make their skins harder, this will allow them to store longer.
  • Harvest before first frosts.
Pumpkins Varieties

Pumpkin Varieties to try

  • Big Max Pumpkin
    • Bright orange skin and firm sweet tasting flesh. Sow early March to mid-May at 15°C and plant out from end of May in rich, well prepared ground. Will grow to a giant size.
  • Dills Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
    • Probably the largest growing pumpkin that can reach over 400kg in weight. Trailing habit. Fruits store for a long time.
  • Hundredweight Pumpkin
    • The traditional Halowe'en pumpkin. Can attain huge weights if grown singly. Oval to round with deep orange flesh. Allow 200cm between plants.
  • Jack Be Little Pumpkin
    • Beautiful small round orange fruits. Make the perfect serving dish for pumpkin soup once the flesh has been used. Late summer and autumn crop. Plant at 60cm spacing's.
  • Jack O' Lantern Pumpkin
    • Perfect size for Halowe'en lights. Skin is golden orange and flesh is fine flavoured and deep orange. Stores through the winter. Plant at 90cm spacing's. Ready in about four months from sowing.
  • Tom Fox Pumpkin
    • A well ribbed, medium to large deep orange colour Halloween type with great handles. They grow on long vines in a variety of shapes, very thick walled and heavy for their size. Size 12-24 lbs.
Winter Squash Varieties

 

Winter Squash Varieties to try

  • Autumn Crown F1 Squash
    • Bred specifically for the UK climate, including the North of England. It combines the best characteristics of colour of a butternut type along with the familiar shape of Crown Prince.
  • Bon Bon F1 Squash
    • Increasing in popularity every year. Buttercup type of flattened globe with dark green striped fruit and yellow flesh of outstanding flavour. Beautiful cut into slices and steamed gently until tender.
  • Buttercup Winter Squash
    • A winter squash with delicious dense firm flesh and superb sweet flavour. Use for roasting with the joint, soups and pumpkin pie. Unusual shape with grey-green skin.  Weight 1.5kg.
  • Butternut Winter Squash
    • Beautiful small round orange fruits. Make the perfect serving dish for pumpkin soup once the flesh has been used. Late summer and autumn crop. Plant at 60cm spacing's.
  • Cha Cha F1 Winter Squash
    • Kabocha type with dark green, slightly flat-round fruits. Bright orange flesh cooks up dry, flaky and sweet with a delicious taste. Average weight 2kg (4lbs) with a yield of 3/4 fruits per plant.
  • Connells Bush Delicata Winter Squash
    • Narrow, elongated fruits with cream coloured skin and dark green thin stripes.  Very sweet, orange flesh that can be eaten as soon as mature.
  • Crown Prince F1 Squash
    • Renowned for its eating qualities this steel grey skinned with deep orange flesh will grow to about 4kg(9lbs) in size. Its is also excellent for long term storage.
  • Gold Nugget Winter Squash
    • Early to mature these globe shaped fruit are lovely golden orange weighing up to 1kg each. Bush habit so plant at 80-90cm spacings.
  • Golden Hubbard Winter Squash
    • Vigorous trailing habit producing large, slightly ridged fruits weighing up to 3kg. Orange-yellow flesh of excellent flavour. Fruits are very good for winter storage.
  • Honey Bear F1 Squash
    • The small fruits are just the right size halved for single servings. This acorn type is deliciously starchy and sweet. Compact bush plant, with an average 3-4 fruits each. Resistant to powdery mildew. Aprox 85 days to mature from sowing.
  • Marina di Chioggia (Kabocha Squash) Winter Squash
    • Medium sized, flattened globe fruits with knobbly grey-green skin.  The fruits will store for a long time.  The delightful yellow-orange flesh improves in flavour after a few weeks.
  • Metro F1 PMR Winter Squash
    • An attractive butternut type. Slightly smaller then most. Average weight 1.5kg (3lbs) with a yield of 4/5 fruits per plant. Powdery mildew resistance helps support the improved sugar taste.
  • Musquee de Provence Winter Squash
    • Large round, semi-flat scalloped fruits weighing up to 10kg. Skin turns from green to golden brown on maturity and the flesh is a dense orange colour and of excellent flavour. Very long storage ability and plants have trailing habits.
  • Pink Banana Squash
    • An American heritage variety which has a firm, sweet, yellow-orange flesh ideal for baking.  Its skin turns pinkish-orange when mature.  Trailing up to 10ft
  • Sunshine F1 Winter Squash
  • A bright red / orange skinned Kasbocha type squash, with a sweet nutty flavour.  Stringless when baked or steamed.  The flesh can be sliced like carrot sticks for a tasty raw snack.
  • Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash
    • Unusual skin colouring of stripes of light and dark green and flesh of creamy orange. Perfect for cooking whole or stuffing.
  • Turks Turban Winter Squash
    • Shaped rather like a cottage loaf, unusual and attractive fruits are very good to eat. Perfect for stuffing and cooking whole. Space plants 100cm apart
  • Uchiki Kuri Winter Squash
  • Also called the onion squash because of its shape. Bright orange skin and flesh with a lovely nutty flavour. Late summer maturity. Plants need 100cm.
    • Waltham Butternut Squash
  • Elongated fruit with small bulbous end. Skin is pale golden orange with deep orange flesh of sweet flavour that improves after storage. Produces about 4 fruits per plant, weighing up to 2 kg.
Problems Pumkins & Winter Squash

Powdery MildewPowdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew:

This is a common fungal disease for squashes, especially in dry conditions when plants are under stress. You will see white, powdery patches of fungus on leaves, stems and in severe case, the fruits.

Remedy:

  • Mulching and watering reduces water stress and helps make plants less prone to infection.
  • Promptly removing any infected shoots will reduce subsequent infection.
  • There are no chemicals to treat powdery mildew, but you can use plant and fish oils as a preventative.
  • A study in 1999 using Milk Sprays at 40% milk and 60% water have been proven to prevent Powdery Mildew, this is best sprayed every 10 days on a sunny afternoon for best results.

No Fruit:

No fruit, or fruit rotting when very small: This is a physiological problem, caused by the growing conditions, not a pest or disease. It is a problem when the weather in early summer is cool and this causes inadequate pollination.

Remedy:

This is usually a temporary problem and once the weather starts to improve, so will pollination. You can try to hand-pollinate plants yourself by removing a male flower (they don’t have a swelling at their base) and brushing the central parts against the centre of a female flower (female flowers have a swelling at the base – this is the beginning of the fruit). But this is a bit of a hassle, and normally the plant will correct this problem itself.

Grey Mould:

This is a problem normally in wet conditions and is usually worse on weak or damaged plants. The mould usually enters through a wound, but under the right conditions even healthy plants will be infected. You will see fuzzy grey mould on affected buds, leaves, flowers or fruit. Infected plant parts eventually shrivel and die..

Remedy:

Hygiene is very important in preventing the spread of grey mould. If you see grey mould, remove the infected material and destroy. Grey mould is encouraged by overcrowding, so make sure you plant your pumpkins at the appropriate distance apart. No fungicides are approved for use by amateur gardeners against grey mould. Products containing plant and fish oil blends may be used but are unlikely to have much impact.