Steps in Growing Pumpkins in Containers
Have you ever thought of growing pumpkin but were frustrated because you have limited space for it? While pumpkin fruits balloon in size, it is one of those plants that you can grow in containers. There are some techniques to do this. If you are interested to know the steps in growing pumpkins in containers, just read on.
Pumpkins are autumn icons and they are popular for the many dishes that you can cook with it. And of course, many use them for Halloween decorations. It does not matter if you don’t have a huge garden, you can still grow pumpkins, in pots.
Some of the popular varieties that you can grow in containers are:
These pumpkins yield about 2- to 5-pound fruits that measure roughly 6 to 10 inches across. Their vines are also strong enough to support the fruits. Other varieties produce bigger fruits that the vines cannot support so they are not suitable for container gardening.
Steps in Growing Pumpkins in Containers
Pumpkins have a long growing season which could last up to 100 days. That means that you have to plant them starting late May if you are in the northern location, to early July for areas in the extremely south states. Do not start to plant until the soil has warmed and until the danger of frost has passed to prevent rotting. The right time to plant pumpkins is when the temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius or higher.
Step 1 Choose the variety that you want to plant
Do a thorough research on these varieties so that you can easily decide which one to plant. All About Pumpkins has a detailed list of pumpkin varieties together with some important facts about each. Pumpkin seeds for planting as well as pumpkin seedlings are widely available online or at your local plant store.
Step 2 Find a big container
Containers with 20 to 25-gallon capacity work best for growing pumpkins. Many growers use plastic kiddie pool as they are typically the ideal size and they are also inexpensive. Make sure that the container has drainage holes so that water can freely flow through them. This will help avoid creating soggy soil. If using a kiddie pool, you can add several small holes at the bottom.
Tip: The rule of thumb in choosing the right container is that it should be at least 20 inches deep and wide.
Step 3 Fill the container with potting mix and compost
Buy a potting mix that is recommended for container gardening. When you fill the container, combine equal parts of potting mix and compost. The compost can give your plant extra boost and it will also help improve the ability of the soil to hold water.
If your climate is naturally cool, choose a mix that is quick to heat and drains well. Also note that pumpkins don’t like acidic soil so that pH level of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.2.
Keep the mix about two inches below the container rim so that you can still add a layer of mulch on top. Mulching helps keep the soil moist.
Step 4 Plant the seeds
Position the container in an area with full sunlight. Shady corners, under a balcony, or under a tree shade is not a good spot for planting sun-loving pumpkins. Pumpkins need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
Plant three seeds about 1-inch deep in a mound. The number of mounds you can have depends on the size of your container. The distance between mounds should be 4 feet.
Step 5 Prepare the trellis
When seeds are showing up, build a sturdy trellis to encourage the vines to grow up. In a very limited space where the vines cannot sprawl out in the ground, a trellis helps in supporting the vine. You can place the trellis behind the container or you may also push it inside the pool through its bottom.
When the fruits start to develop, you can make some kind of sling for holding the fruits. Many growers use pieces of panty hose for this purpose.
Step 6 Maintaining the pumpkin plants
Step 7 Harvesting and storage
One way to know if the pumpkin fruit is ready to be harvested is when its rind is hard to touch and sounds hollow. In most varieties, mature pumpkins have solid and deep orange color when they mature. To harvest, cut the fruit from the vine using pruning shears. Don’t cut too close to the fruit, but instead leave a 3- to 4-inch stem still attached to it. This will increase the storage time.
Once gathered, handle the pumpkins gently to avoid bruising. Curing the fruits in the sun for a week is a good technique to toughen the skin before storing them in a cool and dry place.
If you like to plant the same variety, save your seeds and they could last for up to 6 years.
Common problems in Growing Pumpkins in Containers
Growing pumpkins in containers is possible and is not as difficult as some people might think. However, you need to follow the right steps to ensure a healthy plant and a good harvest. There are also common problems that you may encounter in the process and our guide above should help you solve them.
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