Getting pumpkins ready for the garden

Dear Kitty,

I want you to know we love reading your articles. We are a new gardening family and any help is appreciated. Here is our question: my children want to grow pumpkins and wondered if we need to start them now?

Thank you,

Hoping for scary pumpkins


Dear scary pumpkin hopefuls,

I am happy to hear you are a family of gardeners! Involving everyone in the family is an important part of being food sustainable as well as creating a great family activity.

I am sad to report to the children that it is a little early to plant pumpkins if you want them for trick or treat time. I suggest planting your pumpkins directly in your garden in the last week of May. Boo I know — but to keep your mature pumpkins from rotting it is best to wait.

If you want to grow them indoors first, around the third week of May prepare your small containers and plant your seeds. When the plants have four leaves put them in the ground outside, about the beginning of the second week of June. You can start pie pumpkins indoors at the middle of May and plant them at the end of May. They don’t get as big but can be cooked, pureed and frozen until you’re ready to make a pie.

I know planting is exciting but perhaps you could start a container of salad greens to grow now, to make your green thumbs happy.

Here a few tips to get nice pumpkins for trick or treat.

Give your pumpkins lots of room to grow. Pumpkin vines can be 20 to 30 feet long and they love to stretch out. Be sure to plant your pumpkins where they will get lots of sunshine. Pumpkins love a good drink of water, if it doesn’t rain much they will need you to give them two-three inches of water a week. Protect your pumpkins from bugs. Plant radishes, marigolds, catnip or mint in with your pumpkins to keep the bugs away.

When you pick your pumpkins be sure and leave a long stem, this will help your pumpkins to rot more slowly. I hope you have fun growing your garden this year and get a large harvest of SCARY pumpkins!

Happy growing, Kitty

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