October 31, 2014
Did you know that the heirloom pumpkins and gourds you picked out for festive decorating this fall can be used to grow your own pumpkin patch for next year’s crop? After Halloween, take your pumpkins outdoors and stow them in an out-of-sight location until they break down completely. Then, simply bury them no more than six inches deep in your garden before the first frost and cover with mulch. Throughout the winter, the fermented squash will spread their seeds in the soil, then begin to grow in the spring. Make sure you plant your pumpkins in an area with ample space, about 3-6 feet apart – they will need lots of room to spread their vines, which can grow up to 30 feet! Compost, ample fertilizer, lots of sunlight, and well-draining soil will ensure that your squash thrive. If you notice the soil getting dry, water immediately, as pumpkins are largely made up of water. However, note that overwatering can make them sickly; deep, infrequent watering yields the best result.
Our Product and Community Coordinator, Kelly S., put this method of pumpkin-growing to the test in her yard and harvested her crop from early August until late October. She says, “When the shell of your pumpkin has hardened and changed color, you’ll know it’s ready to harvest. Unfortunately, many of our pumpkins got stolen by hungry critters, so next year we plan to put up fencing and use other measures to keep pests at bay. Our favorite discovery was that the yellow flowers produced by pumpkin vines are edible – simply remove the inner parts and they’re a delicious top note on a frittata or a garnish for salads!”Comment