It was a long time ago that I wrote about the new plot, in fact an entire season has come and gone. The pumpkins that were the main reason for the acquisition are now harvested and slowly being eaten, there is however only a certain amount of pumpkin that can be consumed before the family start to reject the evening meal. We’ve looked at pumpkin pie, pumpkin wine, pumpkin soup, maybe pumpkin ice cream? Anyway, from 3 plants we had 10 very sizeable and healthy Crown Prince squashes, these are lovely as they aren’t the usual orange but rather a dusty pale blue, but still a fabulous golden amber inside. Some of these were given away, and some exchanged at the Squash swap that was organised on apple day at the allotment. This was a simple idea that you bring a squash of one variety and take away a different, if like me you had lots of one variety, you could walk away with something a little different. Now I still have more pumpkin than I can eat, it just looks a little more varied.
It was interesting as on the new plot I had an resounding success with all of the pumpkins and courgettes that I grew, where as others on the site has a total failure. Where I had 12 kilo monsters others had little more that an baseball to show. I’m not sure of the reason that this was but I do know that I spent a while making sure that the plants had the best start and the best conditions to grow. I say the best start, but in reality, like most years, I had untold trouble with slugs thinking that they’d have a go. Both beds that were planted up were inundated and I had a job keeping the seedlings, even the small plants alive. With a total avoidance on slug pellets it was made all the harder, but despite what some people say, still possible. That was a brief hiccup though as there is a simple rule with organic gardening and that is that you plant twice what you need, and be happy when half of it get’s eaten, seeds are abundant and most are really easy to germinate.
Pumpkins are hungry plants, so make sure that wherever you’re wanting to plant them is well fertilised with manure in the seasons before you plant. I prefer to germinate them in pots prior to hardening them off and ultimately planting out, this is again because of the threat of slugs. If you don’t want to do that then create a small mound and plant them several 1 inch deep in the middle of it and 18 to 36 inches apart, this will increase the warmth for germination and aid drainage. When the seedlings are established clip off the unwanted ones to leave just the healthiest.
They also take over quite a bit of space, this was of course the reason that I took over the new plot. If you haven’t the space, there are a few ways that you can still grow them though. You can grow them in a 5 – 10 gallon bucket if ground space is not abundant abut either way grow them vertically. This was a new idea to me, something that I didn’t do, partly because I didn’t think that it was possible but mostly because I was well under way before I was presented with the idea. I have been proved wrong. I’m not sure this would work with all varieties, I can’t see a 30 kilo giant hanging from a plant, but something like the Crown Prince would be fine. A trellis will work better as the plant will need up to 10 feet of vine to provide enough energy to grow the fruit but I’ve also seen it done on a 8 foot frame where the vine was wound round as it grew.
The rest is easy, keep them watered but avoid keeping the plant of fruit wet and thin the fruit as it appears. Ideally you’l leave just 1 or two fruit per plant, that way you’ll get the best pumpkins and more than you will be able to eat.