Cultivating pumpkins

Garden Life
Whether pumpkin soup or pumpkin cake; with this classic autumn vegetable, you can cook many delicious recipes. And of course the huge, orange pumpkins should be ready for the high season of witches and ghosts at Halloween! There is lots of time until then, but to have the delicious pumpkins ready to harvest in time for autumn, you should start to cultivate them in the middle of April.
Prior to planting them, pumpkin seeds should be left to swell in warm water overnight. For cultivation, a pot with a diameter from 10 cm to 12 cm is required. Two pumpkin seeds are planted per pot. To do this, the pot is filled with earth to a finger’s width below the edge. This provides a watering clearance so that water does not spill over when watering. 

With the pointed tip down, the seeds are then pressed approximately two centimetres deep into the earth. Then the pot is placed onto the windowsill, where the first shoots will begin to show after only a few days. The optimum germination temperature for the pumpkin plant is 20 °C to 25 °C. For the plants to grow and do well, it is important that the young plants are located in surroundings with a constant warmth and sufficient light. Once the first true leaves appear after the germination leaves, and these have grown up to the edge of the pot, the weaker of the two seedlings is generally cut off. Only the stronger plant is allowed to grow on, so that it can be put out into the garden later. But of course, both seedlings can remain in the pot to be planted out later. 

When the Frost Saints is over in the middle of May, there is little risk of frost outside. Now the pumpkins can be planted in a sunny location in the garden. A sufficiently large planter (approx. 30 litres soil volume) is sufficient for the pumpkins to grow well – as long as they are sufficiently supplied with fertiliser and water. A nutrient-rich and permeable garden soil promises good growth of the plant in the bed. To achieve this, the garden bed must first be well worked over and the location must be fertilised with approx. five to ten litres of compost. When planting the pumpkins, a distance of at least one metre must be maintained between the plants in order to provide each plant with sufficient space to grow. Because pumpkins require a lot of water, they must be regularly watered. So that the plant receives sufficient nutrients, the ground should repeatedly be fertilised with a little mineral fertiliser, in total approx. 30 to 50 grammes/square metre. 

At the end of September, the pumpkins can then be harvested punctually at the beginning of autumn. The ripeness of the fruits is easy to determine. Simply rap your knuckles against the strong, hard shell. If the pumpkin sounds hollow, it is ready to harvest. All fruits must be harvested at the latest prior to the first frost.

Photo: © Witold Krasowski - Fotolia.com