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Pumpkin care: 6 tips for a rich harvest

18.04.2021  /  Reading time: 5 minutes

Pumpkin plants are uncomplicated and easy-care crops that are very popular in kitchens and hobby gardens. They are easy to grow and care for. With their high content of minerals and vitamins, combined with their long shelf life, they are a real goldmine for the winter, especially for self-caterers. Here you will find an overview of all the important care measures to keep your pumpkin plants growing healthy and strong.

This article contains:

  1. Cutting pumpkin
  2. Fertilize pumpkin
  3. Sprouting pumpkins: how to do it
  4. Watering the pumpkin correctly
  5. Mulching pumpkin
  6. Pumpkins defeated by rot
  7. Frequently asked questions about pumpkin care

Quick Overview

Proper pumpkin care

  • Water abundantly and evenly, as pumpkins consist of up to 90% water
  • Apply a layer of mulch to protect the plant from drying out
  • Fertilize every three to four weeks
  • Pinch out and shorten runners in July
  • Place pumpkins on a dry base to prevent rotting

Cutting pumpkin

The sprawling runners can take up a lot of space and should be shortened if necessary. However, remember that the pumpkin plant also needs enough leaves and roots to develop fruit. So if you have to shorten shoots, you should always be careful not to cut off too much. If space is tight, you can shorten larger pumpkin plants with three to five leaves per shoot to two leaves in June. If there is a lack of space, you can also directly attach a scaffold instead and direct the pumpkin upwards.

Fertilize pumpkin

Pumpkin plants grow very quickly and therefore need a lot of nutrients. If the garden soil is fertile, it is sufficient to fertilize the soil once a year with a layer of compost about 2.5 cm/ 9,8 in thick. For poor, humus-poor soil, you may need more compost (up to 15 cm/ 5,9 in thick layer). Alternatively, as mentioned above, you can grow your pumpkin directly at the bottom of a compost. Then no fertilization is necessary. If you notice a lack of nutrients during the season, you can fertilize with diluted nettle slurry.

Pumpkin in compost
Pumpkins can also be planted near compost. As a heavy feeder, the plant is happy to receive an extra portion of nutrients. Image by Albrecht Fietz on Pixabay

Sprouting pumpkins: how to do it

By pinching out , the plant's energy can be directed towards individual fruits and thus their growth and size. In doing so, you remove new shoots that grow from the leaf axils in order to branch out and expand further. Of course, you can also let the pumpkin plant grow. This will result in many small pumpkins, as their energy is distributed evenly across all the shoots. If you want fewer but larger pump kins, you can remove these new shoots. It is not necessary to pinch out pumpkins nearly as often as tomatoes. It is sufficient if you take one or two days in July to pinch out your pumpkin plants.

Watering the pumpkin correctly

Pumpkins need plenty of water evenly throughout the season in order to thrive and produce lots of fruit. The fruit of the pumpkin plant consists of up to 90 % water. It is therefore easy to see why the plant cannot produce fruit if there is a lack of water. Like most plants, it reacts sensitively to waterlogging and its roots begin to rot. As the leaves of the pumpkin plant are hairy, you should pay attention to them when watering and avoid hitting them with the water. Otherwise you risk burns from the sunlight.

Pumpkin plant
The fruits of the pumpkin plant consist of 90 % water and need a lot of water evenly for good development. Picture by Harry Fabel on Pixabay

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Mulching pumpkin

With their shallow but extensive root system, pumpkins are shallow-rooted plants. In combination with the high water requirement, a layer of mulch with some straw is particularly important at the beginning to protect the plant from drying out. Later, when the pumpkin plant is larger and covers the ground, its leaves themselves provide enough shade to protect the soil from drying out.

Pumpkins defeated by rot

When the pumpkins have reached their final size , the fruits are placed on a dry surface to ripen further. This is to prevent rotting and prolongs the storage life of the pumpkins. Place the fruit with the stem facing upwards on a base made of wood, straw or stone. This allows them to ripen well and give them an even shape.

Pumpkin plant
To prevent the fruit from rotting as it ripens, you should cover it with wood or straw. Picture by Gerhard on Pixabay

Good luck caring for your pumpkins!

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Cover picture by rauschenberger on Pixabay.

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Marie studied agricultural science at the University of Hohenheim. Her main focus is on ecological agriculture and permaculture. She writes articles for Fryd to educate people about ecological interrelationships and alternatives to current land use. Our current economic systems, especially in agriculture, have numerous negative effects on nature and destabilize our ecosystems. We need a great diversity in our gardens and beds again to counteract the extinction of species. Every gardener can contribute to creating and maintaining habitats and food for a wide variety of creatures. With her articles, she would like to pass on her experience in dealing with natural systems and give people the opportunity to contribute to a stable ecosystem and thus also to securing our livelihood.

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Pumpkins need regular and consistent amounts of water, as their fruit consists of up to 90 % water.

Pinching out can direct the plant's energy into individual fruits to promote their growth and size. It is recommended in July, but is not necessary as often as with tomatoes.

To prevent rotting, the pumpkins should be placed on a dry surface such as wood, straw or stone as soon as they have reached their final size.

Pumpkins are shallow-rooted and a layer of mulch protects the soil from drying out. Pumpkins benefit from this as they consist largely of water and a regular water supply is important.

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