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Growing pumpkins for fun7 April 2011
I’ve grown the better tasting butternut squash several times, but not being keen on the flavour, I’ve never bothered with pumpkins. But I’m jumping in at the deep end this year by setting my sights on growing a giant.
I’ve never really had the urge to grow them for size either, but I’ve had my arm twisted. Last October I got chatting to the fitter while he re-glazed my conservatory. When I told him about my job, we got chatting about how much his two boys enjoyed growing pumpkins on his allotment plot. I’ve since met his sons, and between us we’ve hatched a plan to grow some giants this year – I just hope their dad can live with the amount of space we’ll be taking up to do it. According to giant veg grower Bernard Lavery (holder of a long list of world record breakers) a single pumpkin plant needs an area of 16x8ft (4.8x2.4m) to grow a giant. We’re still a while off of being able to plant these frost tender plants outdoors, but to get a giant you need to give them as long a growing season as possible. So last weekend I sowed half a dozen ‘Atlantic Giant’ (T&M) alongside six ‘Hundredweight’ (Suttons). We won’t be growingi on all the resulting plants but sowing more than you need allows you to cherry pick the strongest seedlings. Over the next few weeks I’ll join the boys on their dad’s allotment to get the ground ready. This calls digging a hole 3ftx3ft (90cm) and 2ft (60cm) wide. And filling rotted manure and compost
Growing pumpkins the American way
Giant pumpkin growing gets very competitive in the US. A common growing method for outdoor growing across the pond sees growers mound up the soil to a height of around 4ft (1.2m) to form hillocks. A young plant is then set on top of the hillock. Growing stems then trail down the sides. Sap then rushes downhill to feed the developing pumpkins at the bottom of the mound.
Sowing pumpkin seeds
Set individual seeds into 3in (7.5cm) pots, or larger, of multipurpose compost. Set the seeds on their edge to prevent water sitting on them and rot setting in before they can germinate. Set in a heated propagator aiming for a temperature of 24C (75F). Pumpkins don’t like root disturbance so I’m using biodegradable pots. As soon as roots are seen I’ll either pot them up with minimal disturbance, or if the weather has turned, plant them straight out.
Article supplied by Amatuer Gardening Magazine - available every Tuesday