Pumpkins are native to Central and South America
Today’s blog is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant for SafeSourcing.
Pumpkins are native to Central and South America, pumpkins are a key ingredient for traditional Thanksgiving dishes such as pies, soups, and breads. They are also widely used to carve jack-o’lanterns for Halloween, a tradition that originated in Ireland, where locals carved jack-o’lanterns out of turnips and potatoes. Pumpkin patches are typically planted in early summer, as they require warm soils to germinate. Before you plant your seeds, make sure you know what kind of pumpkins you want to harvest. Do you want to use them to carve or decorate, eat, or both?
Pumpkins are members of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, melons, cantaloupe, watermelons, and zucchini. They grow on vines and need plenty of space! Pumpkins can easily take over your entire garden patch before you know it. Generally, you will need 10 ft. by 20 ft. for several pumpkin plants, but you can also plant these to grow around the base of other crops, such as corn. Pumpkins require at least eight hours of direct sun each day. Plant your pumpkin seeds in mounds and place four to five seeds in each hole, one to one and a half inches deep, spacing the mounds about four to six feet apart. Add a thin layer of compost to the top of the soil. Once the seeds germinate – usually in a week – wait seven to ten days and then carefully thin the seedlings with scissors, leaving only the strongest two plants. Do not pull the seedlings out by hand so as not to damage the roots of the remaining plants! After thinning the plants, add a layer of organic mulch to conserve water and suppress weeds. Although pumpkins are fairly hardy and drought tolerant, water them deeply a few times a week. Manage your pumpkin patch by looking out for any pests and diseases.
Generally, pumpkins take 90-120 days to mature after seeds are planted, depending on the variety. Pumpkins are ripe when they are fully colored and have a hard rind and woody stem. Carefully cut off the stem with a knife, leaving several inches of stem on the pumpkin. Pumpkins can be stored for a long time in a cool, dark storage area and can be used for all your fun fall activities and delicious recipes long into the winter.
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