POWER OF THE Pumpkin
Kitchen Garden|October 2021
Pumpkins are soon ready to harvest and with October 26 being National Pumpkin Day, Annabelle Padwick decided to focus on this autumnal beauty
Annabelle Padwick

Rather typical you might think, talking about pumpkins in October but hopefully, you might learn something new still, or at least have a giggle with me over my pumpkin mishaps and adventures.

I will never forget carving into my first allotment-grown pumpkin! Knowing I had grown it from seed with no experience of a huge beautiful rich orange delight, it gave me so much excitement and a really proud feeling. Such self-pride kept me growing them every year and even secured me a third place in 2016 and a first-place award in 2017 at my local autumn show for the heaviest pumpkin. I was so chuffed (and not competitive about it in the slightest!) as I walked into the hall, struggling to carry it with the help of another person.

Although the joy didn’t last long on the first place occasion as on departure, when trying to carry it back out through the car park and into the car, it met the grubby concrete ground with a sudden accidental bang, cracking on impact and needing emergency cleaning, cutting, freezing and cooking! It all got very stressful very quickly, but I was still so pleased and couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away after so much hard work and many months of nurturing, watering, feeding and hoping for sun.

HOW TO GROW THEM

It’s too late now to be sowing your own pumpkin seeds but I still wanted to share with you a small guide, my best tips and lessons learnt, so that you can hopefully keep the pages safe and be ready to go next spring.

You can start sowing your seeds inside from April, sowing one seed per 7.5cm (3in) pot. Place them on their sides 1cm (½in) deep in peat-free compost. They need a consistent temperature of 18-21C (65-70F) to germinate so a sunny windowsill may do the job, although to make sure their bottoms keep cosy 24/7 I like to use a heated propagator. You don’t need a fancy one with temperature controls and lighting, just a basic one which you can plug in and usually pick up for around £20. If you don’t want to or can’t invest that amount of money, we have germinated pumpkin seeds successfully outside under the cover of a polytunnel with no additional heat. So, my best advice is just give it a go and try to keep them as warm as possible.

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