How to Grow Your Own Pumpkin from Scratch
Pumpkins are an enduring symbol of fall, whether they end up as scary jack-o'-lanterns or stacked next to the front door with cornstalks. Growing your own pumpkin plant is not as hard as it may seem. Following are step-by-step guidelines that can provide you with your own homegrown pumpkin just in time for Halloween.
Choosing the Seeds
People who grow pumpkins year after year usually store seeds from the pumpkins after the harvest. If you know someone who has done this, ask if he or she has a few seeds to spare. If not, buy your seeds from a local feed and seed store. Be sure to ask about various pumpkin variety options before you make your purchase, as pumpkins vary in size and some are more challenging to grow than others.
Planting the Seeds
Choose a sunny spot to plant your pumpkin seeds. If you have a small box garden, plant your pumpkins near the edge so the vines can hang down but be sure to provide support for growing pumpkins on the vine. Planting radishes, mint, catnip or petunias with the pumpkin plants will prevent pests from getting to your pumpkins before you do. These plants also act as a "cover crop," protecting the soil from excessive sunlight.
Harvesting the Pumpkins
If you press your fingernail against the pumpkin's skin and there is no sign of an indentation, your pumpkin is ripe and ready to harvest. Cut off plenty of stem with the pumpkin and leave it in the sun for about a week before storing it in a cool, dry place. Pumpkins are not just great for carving. They are also rich in folates, niacin, Vitamin A, calcium, copper, Vitamin B6, Thiamin and antioxidants. Once your pumpkin is ripe and ready to eat, check out various pumpkin recipes online and enjoy this healthy, low-fat vegetable as you see fit.
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