As in most ventures, good preparation and timing are everything. Ensure your fright night is a glowing success by following these practical tips.
With Halloween still a good few months away, there’s still time to plant pumpkin seeds in preparation for harvesting by October 31.
Grow your own is a big trend in the UK and to get you, even more inspired, here are seven top tips to make sure you have a plump pumpkin to carve this year. Our guide includes answers to questions such as when is the best time to plant pumpkins seeds, how to train pumpkins and when to harvest them
How to grow pumpkins
Time needed: 85 days.
Deciding when the best time to plant pumpkin seeds and how to grow and train pumpkins can be a challenge if you want the perfect pumpkin in time for Halloween. Here’s our expert how-to guide to choosing the right spot, planting pumpkin seeds, pruning and when the best time to plant is.
- Where to plant pumpkin seeds
Choose a suitable location with lots of space and direct sunlight. If you’re short on space then not to worry; you can grow pumpkins in a 40-litre bucket.
- Sow seeds in warm soil
Prepare your patch, ensuring you have rich, well-drained soil, and mix in lots of compost. Pumpkin seeds are sensitive to the cold, so make sure the soil is as close to 30 degrees celsius as possible before planting.
To help the soil warm quickly in the sun, create a small mound a few inches in height and plant three to five pumpkin seeds around the sides of it. Seeds are better sown on their side, direct into the compost.
- Train the plants to grow up trellis
Once the pumpkins germinate and grow to about two or three inches tall, you can train them to grow in the direction you want. If you don’t have a lot of space, train your vines to grow up a trellis.
- Keep pumpkins moist as they grow
Water your pumpkins regularly; they need about an inch of water per week and this will need to increase during flowering season. Just make sure you avoid getting the fruit and flowers too wet, or it will increase the chance of rot. Pumpkins love food, so feed them regularly with a water/compost mixture, or use manure if it’s available.
- Prune unruly vines
Pinch off the fuzzy ends of each vine after a few pumpkins have formed to stop the vines growing. You should also prune unruly vines to preserve the energy for fruit growth. As the fruit develops, they should be turned – make sure the vines aren’t damaged when doing this – to encourage an even shape.
- When to plant pumpkin seeds – count down the days
There isn’t a set time, so you’ll need to work backwards when working out when to plant pumpkin seeds. Most pumpkin varieties take 85 to 125 days to mature, so you’ll need to look at planting from late June (125 days before Halloween) to end of July/early August at the latest. Time your sowing to ensure your pumpkin is ready for your Halloween celebrations.
- Harvest in time for Halloween
Finally, harvest your pumpkin just before Halloween and carve it into a suitably scary face!