With 134 days until Halloween, it is the perfect time to plant your pumpkin seeds in preparation for harvesting and carving by October 31.
Growing your own is still a big trend in the UK and to mark the occasion, Homebase seed buyer David Gillespie has created his top 10 tips on making sure you have a plump pumpkin ready to carve this Halloween:
- Pick a suitable location with lots of space and direct sunlight. If you’re slightly short on space then not to worry, you can grow pumpkins in a 40-litre bucket.
- Prepare your patch, ensuring you have rich, well-drained soil and mix in lots of compost.
- Pumpkin seeds are very sensitive to the cold so make sure the soil is as close to 30oc as possible before planting. To help the soil warm quickly in the sun create a small mound a few inches in height and plant three – five pumpkin seeds around the sides of it. Seeds are better sown on their side, direct into the compost.
- Once the pumpkins germinate and grow to about two or three inches tall, you can train your pumpkins to grow in the direction you want them to. If you don’t have a lot of space, train your vines to grow up a trellis.
- Water your pumpkins regularly – they need about an inch of water per week and this will need to increase during the flowering season – just make sure you avoid getting the fruit and flowers too wet, or it’ll increase the chance of rot.
- Pumpkins love food so make sure you regularly feed them with a water/compost mixture – or use manure if you have it available.
- Pinch off the fuzzy ends of each vine after a few pumpkins have formed to stop the vines growing anymore. You should also prune unruly vines to preserve the energy for fruit growth.
- As the fruit develops, they should be turned, making sure the vines aren’t damaged, to encourage an even shape.
- Most pumpkin varieties take between 85 – 125 days to mature. So time your sowing to ensure your pumpkin is ready for your Halloween celebrations.
- Finally, harvest your pumpkin just before Halloween and carve it into a suitably scary face.