Pumpkin (Small Sugar)
A vigorous variety for high yields of small but beautifully formed pumpkins. Because they are smaller, many more fruit can be produced by a single plant. This is the ideal pumpkin if space is limited or lots of pumpkins are needed for Halloween decorations. As the name suggests they have deliciously sweet tasting flesh with a high sugar content. Perfect for tasty pumpkin pies, warming winter soups and roasting.
Sow outdoors in May. Pumpkins can be sown outdoors for ease. Choose a sunny, sheltered location for best results and wait until the soil has warmed up, ideally to around 10°C or more. If the soil is very heavy, cold or waterlogged an indoor sowing is preferable.
Pumpkins like good fertile soil so it’s worth digging in a slow release fertiliser or some organic matter before you start. Sow edge downwards directly where the plants are to grow, 5cm deep and spaced 90cm apart. Gently firm the soil and keep moist. Remove any weeds as they appear. Early sowings will benefit from cloche protection.
Top Tips About Seeds
Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings. Pumpkin seeds will maintain their vigour for a good number of years.
Pumpkins are not recommended for growing in patio pots.
Aphids can affect weak young plants and in the worst cases spread disease to the plant. With care aphids can be washed off and removed. To make it difficult for aphids keep the plants well watered and strong. Late in the season mildew often begins to affect the leaves, by this stage the fruit should be well developed and ripening so it is unlikely to affect the quality of the pumpkins.
Harvest from September from November. It is best to collect them as late as possible but before the first frosts set in. The fruits are ready when the stem hardens and turns woody and the fruit should sound hollow when tapped. They should also turn a rich orange colour as they ripen.
Ideas on how to use your Pumpkin
When plants begin to flower and produce fruit, a regular watering with a liquid feed will help to maximise the crop. It is import to water plants regularly as irregular ‘boom and bust’ watering will result in poor quality fruit and can even split the skins. It may also weaken the plants enough to succumb to mildew. Placing the developing fruit on a mulch such as straw or even old roof tiles will keep them up off the ground and prevent rotting in damp conditions or discolouration of the skin.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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