The Vegetable Garden


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Pumpkin

pumpkinPumpkin is a warm-season vegetable and can be grown in most of the United States.  It is considered a squash but is not always used for consumption as it has a stringier texture than other squash varieties.  However, pumpkin can certainly be enjoyed in many dishes including pies, breads, and soups.

 

Some Varieties


  • Small Sugar or New England Pie (the standard pie type)
  • Spooktacular (hybrid; bright orange; ribbed; strong stem)
  • Winter Luxury (old variety, good for cooking; unique netted skin)
  • Autumn Gold (hybrid, yellow when immature)
  • Bushkin (hybrid, bush type)
  • Frosty (hybrid; smooth-textured skin)
  • Harvest Moon (hybrid)
  • Jack-o-Lantern
  • Spirit (hybrid, semi-bush)
  • Standard Orange (Small, Intermediate, or Large)
  • Aspen (hybrid, deep orange, uniformly large)
  • Big Autumn (hybrid, yellow when mature)
  • Connecticut Field (the old standard, continually reselected)
  • Ghost Rider (dark orange; very dark green handle)
  • Happy Jack (uniform, dark orange; good handle)
  • Howden Field (the industry standard for the last 20 years)
  • Jumpin' Jack (large, dark orange, heavy, tall fruit)
  • Jumbo (All C. maxima, 50 to 100 pounds, or much more; 120 days to harvest)
  • Atlantic Giant (most true giants come from selections of this variety)
  • Trick or Treat (hybrid, semi-bush, 10 to 12 pounds, good for carving)
  • Triple Treat (thick flesh; 6 to 8 pounds; cooks, carves well)
  • Jack-Be-Little (standard orange miniature)
  • Jack-Be-Quick (taller, darker orange)

When to plant

Pumpkins need to be started when the soil is very warm.  Seedlings can be severely damaged by frost.  Better to be safe than sorry.  For a Halloween harvest, plant around the end of May in northern locations and those of you in the south should plan on early July.

Spacing and Depth

Be sure to pay close attention to the many different varieties when considering the space you have allocated to planting your pumpkins.

  • Vining pumpkins will need about of 50 to 100 square feet with 4 or 5 seeds planted in a small hill.  Each hill should be 5 to 6 feet apart in each row and each row should be 10 to 15 feet apart.
  • Semi-Bush pumpkin seeds should be planted one inch deep and 2 or 3 feet apart in each row.  Rows should be 6 to 8 feet apart.
  • Bush pumpkin seeds will also be planted one inch deep every couple of feet in each row.  Rows should be 4 to6 feet apart.

Care and Harvesting

Keep your pumpkins weed free and be sure to water only if you have extended periods of dry weather.  Harvest your pumpkins when they are a deep color and the rind is hard.  Cut them from the vine leaving about 3 inches. Pumpkins do not last as long without some stem.  Store harvested pumpkins in a dry place with a constant temperature in the low 50’s.

 

Common Problems

Powdery mildew can damage the leaves on the vines and interfere with overall ripening.  Be on the lookout for Cucumber Beetles and Squash Bugs.  They attack both seedlings and mature vines and are more of a threat in late summer.  When applying insecticide to control these pests, be sure to apply in the evening when the flowers have closed so as not to harm the bees you want to pollinate the crop for you.

pumpkin