Grow up!
Good Organic Gardening|September - October 2021
A SPACE-SAVING WAY TO GROW PUMPKIN AND POWER-CHARGE IT AT THE SAME TIME
Steve McGrane

Pumpkin label

Common name: Pumpkin, winter squash

Botanical name: Cucurbita maxima

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Aspect & soil: Sun; deep, moist, fertile soil

Best climate: All, but in cold areas wait for warmer weather

Habit: Annual vine

Propagation: Seed, seedling

Difficulty: Easy

Pumpkin patches are generally messy, sprawling areas where rats often find the fruit before you do. What’s more, the best ones always seem to pop up, inconveniently, in a compost heap with nightmare management issues such as rambling.

We have the solution!

Not only can you grow pumpkins vertically but you can power-charge them by using organic waste recycled in your compost bin to produce bountiful fruit in a tidy fashion.

STRUCTURES TO GROW ON

There are myriad structures to grow pumpkins on, from existing vertical arrangements like a pool fence or brick wall to your own pumpkin pyramid. I trained pumpkins onto existing pool-type fencing that divides my orchard from my dog’s play space.

An open structure like a pool fence provides premium sun exposure and airflow and has a generous length of training space and plenty of attachment points for tendrils. Look around your property, balcony or courtyard for opportunities. Position a domed compost bin or similar near the climbing structure, as shown in top right photo.

Tip: Wherever you position your pumpkin plant and compost bin, make sure they receive sun exposure for the longest part of the day and year.

WHY PLANT UNDER A COMPOST BIN?

When pumpkins appear naturally in the compost heap, it can be annoying. However, in this case we are deliberately planting our pumpkins under the compost bin to take advantage of abundant moisture and nutrients. My favoured compost vessel for this task is the common domed black bin.

The black domed bin with an open base is a good choice for planting pumpkins under because it attracts heat and therefore increases the rate at which compost breaks down and raises the soil temperature, increasing the pumpkins’ growth rate.

Position your compost bin (planting medium) near the vertical structure the pumpkin plant will climb.

Tip: It’s possible to adapt this method to an open compost heap, but it’s more difficult to manage.

NUTRIENTS FOR YOUR PUMPKIN

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