Whether it is for carving, for cooking, for eating, for entering competitions, pumpkins are a joy to grow and harvest. Did you know that pumpkins have been grown for almost 9000 years now? This certainly makes you a part of the legacy of this magnanimous fruit don’t you think? So I guess it is only fair that if you are or are planning to harvest pumpkins, you do it right. But this is a lot easier said than done for every second person has their own methodology of growing them and so naturally the question arises that which of the methods adopted is the best.
To be very honest, there is no selective method that can be deemed as the best. The whole procedure is subjective in itself and thus it all depends on your needs and criteria for the pumpkins. If your purpose is to harvest them for your own consumption, then the procedure is different, if the purpose is to harvest them for selling, then the procedure becomes different, if the purpose is to enter them in a competition then the methodology shifts completely.
The method to grow your desired type of pumpkins may differ but what does remain constant are the ingredients (if you can call them that) and the other miscellaneous stuff that offer nutrition and protection to your pumpkins. It is just the dosage that differs for a different kind and variety of yield. Let us look at some of the imperative things needed for quality and plentiful harvest.
- High-quality seeds
- 100 frost-free days
- Warm soil
- Manure and compost
- Row covers
- Lots and lots of water
- Pure NPK fertilizers
- Before sowing the seeds, make sure that the temperature of the soil is more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimum temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure that the soil is maintained at near about this temperature for the whole season.
- Plant the seeds in mound / hill shaped structures of soil for they allow the seeds to germinate faster as compared to planting them straight away in the soil. Using mounds instead of normal burial also aids in better drainage of water and minerals.
- For best yield, bury the seeds at least 2 inches deep in the hills and depending on the size of the pumpkins you wish to grow, separate consecutive hills accordingly.
- Pumpkins need a lot of sunlight to showcase the best results. So choose a duration during which at least a hundred frost-free days are guaranteed.
2. CARING AND PRESERVATION
- Harvesting pumpkins is a water-intensive job. So be prepared to water the fruit weekly (almost 2-3 inches water weekly).
- The most imperative thing while harvesting not just pumpkins but any fruit is to ensure maximum pollination and bees and insects are the best means for the same and so you have to be extremely mindful of the amount of insecticides that you use. Either refrain from using insecticides completely or if it is necessary, do so late in the evenings.
- The vines of the fruit may be the most intervening and disturbing elements for you to handle, but at the same time, they are a detrimental factor in determining the quality of the fruit. So take care to not damage them.
3. HEALTHY GROWTH
- Pumpkins are not just water-hungry fruits, but nutrient hungry as well. So make sure that they are provided with the right amounts of compost and fertilizers with high nitrogen content.
- Clip off the ends of vines for it allows the plant to focus the development more on the fruit rather than on unnecessary parts.
- Make sure that you break off all the female flowers.
4. HARVESTING AND STORING
Thump the pumpkin fruit and pay attention to the sound. If it sounds like the fruit is hollow from the inside, just harvest it without any second thoughts.
SOME PRO TIPS
- Plant the seeds directly into the ground/hills for best results.
- Insects are always a problem with any sort of harvesting/cultivation. Instead of using insecticides, simply use row covers to protect the plants. However, make sure that you remove them before flowering to allow pollination to take place.
- While watering the fruits, add mulch around them to absorb the extra moisture (if any). Adding mulch also aids in weed control.
- While the pumpkins are ripening, place a platform made out of wood/cardboard to prevent rotting and decay from the damp soil.
- Use fertilizers that amongst NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) have the highest content of Nitrogen followed by Phosphorous followed by Potassium.
I hope the article was informative enough for you as a budding pumpkin harvester and covered enough topics to give you a basic idea at least of the do’s and don’ts to follow while aiming for top-quality produce. Pumpkin as a fruit has found itself to be used for a lot of occasions in a lot of countries which means it is only important that you have the finest quality pumpkins with the best taste to offer and subsequently ask the highest price for the same.
For more question and details, comment your queries in the section below or you can also look for viable solutions online such as the Seed Needs guide - a really premium and good guide that covers a lot of topics in detail.