When to plant pumpkin seeds

Alan Titchmarsh speaks to expert about growing fruit in garden

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Pumpkins are fun to grow and are enjoyed by many around the world each year in the autumn as a way to celebrate Halloween. If you place them in a sunny place, give them plenty of water and shelter them from cold winds, they will likely grow and prosper.

When to plant pumpkin seeds

To sow your pumpkin seeds, you should begin the process between April and June.

You will need the following:

  • Compost
  • A three-inch pot
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • A heated propagator or plastic bag/lid.

Start by filling a three-inch pot with compost and placing a pumpkin seed on its side around one inch deep and cover it with soil.

Label your pot and then place it in your windowsill or in a heated propagator.

When roots begin to show through the bottom of your pot, you should transfer the pumpkin plant to a five-inch pot.

Once your seedlings have been fully established, you can take the step to plant them outside.

Plant them in the ground spaced around two or three metres apart.

If you wish to wait for later in the year, you can sow your seeds from late May to the early summer directly into the ground.

Expert gardeners however claim pumpkins are best grown from seed indoors.

When planting your pumpkin plant in the ground, make sure to choose a sunny and sheltered spot.

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Once your seedlings have fermented, you should remove the weakest one.

Try to protect your seedlings using mulch and feed with general fertiliser for tomato plant food.

Make sure to water your plant regularly throughout the growing season.

If you are growing larger varieties use wire as a guide to train shoots as they grow.

Next, remove some fruits before they develop, leaving two or three fruits on the plant which will encourage the plant to put its energy into producing larger fruit.

As the fruits grow, raise them up onto a piece of wood or brick to protect them from rotting and make sure to remove any leaves shading the fruit as it needs maximum light to ripen.

How to harvest pumpkins

You should let your pumpkin mature and colour before harvesting.

Leave your fruit for as long as possible to ensure it is in the best position to be harvested.

When the stem cracks and the skin is very tough, the fruit is ready to be picked.

You should cut off your fruit with a long stalk before the first frost.

How to store your pumpkin

Pumpkins can be kept and stored for around four to six months.

You should expose your pumpkin to sunlight outside for 10 days for it to harden.

However, if you can also keep your pumpkin inside in temperatures from 27C to 32C for four days to harden.

Pumpkins can be stored in a well-ventilated area at about 10C for up to several months.

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