Pumpkins are easy to grow from seed or seedling and are a fast and vigorous plant. With their spreading habit they can take up a lot of room in the garden, so give them plenty of space or grow up over a sturdy support. They will need to be tied up and pointed in the right direction but are highly ornamental when grown in this way.
Plant your pumpkin in an open sunny spot with rich, moist and well-composted soil with plenty of well-rotted manure added. They require plenty of water and mulching well with straw mulch will help maintain cool, moist soil. Fertilise fortnightly with a liquid fertiliser.
You can even grow them on the lawn. This can be done easily by placing a mound of soil directly on the grass and planting in the centre, or creating a space in a bale of pea straw, filling it with soil and planting your pumpkin into it.
Pumpkins are bee pollinated, so a lack of fruit may be caused by windy or extreme weather conditions that are unfavourable to bees. Hand pollination can be easily done using a fine paintbrush to move pollen between partially opened flowers.
Powdery mildew can occur in late summer and autumn. Prevention includes good air circulation, consistent watering (avoid watering the foliage) and regular spraying with home made milk or chamomile spray.
Harvesting and Storage
They are a long maturing crop that you won’t harvest pumpkins until autumn, but with careful storage they will last a long time. Allow your pumpkins to ripen fully on the vine as they do not ripen once harvested. The plant will begin to wither and die off as autumn approaches and this sun exposure helps to toughen the skin and prolong storage. Once the stem that attaches the pumpkin to the vine turns brown and woody then it can be cut and placed in an airy and protected spot to keep.
Recommended home garden varieties include Jap, Golden Nugget, Jarrahdale, Baby Blue, Queensland Blue and Turks Turban, but there are many more to choose from. Look out for some of the really interesting Heirloom Pumpkin varieties. Pumpkins are a great vegetable to experiment with, you can try different varieties every year.