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So .... you want to try and grow your own ...

Is it hard to do? Well, it does take some work and unless you own and operate a farm, it may take  a few tries but why not try to grow a few of your own to add to the ones you'll pick up at local growers?

Any good, well drained soil will grow pumpkins. A soil of medium texture is best but good results can be produced on heavy or light soils if they are properly tilled and well fertilized. Pumpkins are moderately tolerant of acid soils and the preferred pH range is 6.0 - 6.8. Direct seeding should not be attempted until the soil has warmed up and is in good condition for germination (usually after May 15).

You can buy seeds of many varieties at any lawn and garden store. But start out with only one or two kinds until you get the and of it. If you live in a drier, more arid area, seed can be planted up to 1.75 inches deep to keep them in a moisture zone. Normally, shallow cultivation just enough to control weeds is sufficient for this crop. Rows should be about 4 feet apart, with hills containing two or three seeds. Each hill should be about 3 feet apart.

Although pumpkin plants produce a profusion of flowers throughout the life of the plant, however, as a rule of thumb, about 2 pumpkins per vine can be expected.  All pumpkins produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant for natural pollination.

While pumpkin size is generally controlled by genetics, any factor that limits plant growth will adversely affect it's size. This includes water, temperature, insects , diseases, pollination, fertility, soil type, plant population, weeds, etc.

It is not uncommon for some pumpkins to wither or rot and die soon after flowering. This condition may be due to either to poor pollination or the natural tendency for a plant to let some pumpkins die so that the good ones will live, natural selection. Other factors that can contribute to the dying off of some pumpkins include overcrowding of plants, prolonged periods of cool and cloudy or rainy weather or drought.

Some Pumpkin Problems:

You might run into a couple of problems while trying to grow your pumpkins, disease and bugs. Bugs are  a problem because the cucumber beetle is a carrier of plant disease, which leads to..... Powdery Mildew, a white powder-like bacteria. Powdery mildew thrives in hot, humid weather, in the middle to late summer, just as your pumpkin is really getting big. It spreads rapidly and will quickly destroy the plant.

Another problem disease is Bacterial Wilt. This disease is evident by a wilting and browning of the leaves. Sometimes the leaves will firm up at the end of the day, only to repeat itself the next morning, and get worse each time. This can sometimes be confused early on with wilting due to lack of water. Wilting from lack of water results from either a literal lack of water in the soil or the vine ends not getting enough water as the fruit is sucking up all the nutrients. The best test for bacterial wilt is to take one leaf and cut it an inch or so from the vine. If the sap that drains out is yellow and stringy, your pumpkins have this disease. There is no known cure and the plant will certainly die. The best course of action is to remove the diseased plant.

Some ways to keep either of these from happening are as follows:
Water only in the morning or during the day. Avoid late afternoon and evening, Powdery Mildew and other diseases thrive in humid weather and watering at night can add extra humidity.

Water only to the roots and vines. Using a soaker hose is perfect because it allows the roots and vies water but doesn't get the leaves wet. Wet leaves can lead to mildew if they don't get a chance to dry out. Make sure that the soaker hose is face down.

If any plants do become infected, remove them immediately. Throw them away and don't add them to a compost pile or to anything that would come in contact with another crop. The bacteria can survive and infect the next patch.

With a little common sense and by following the instructions on the seed package, you might be able to show off your home grown Jack-O-Lantern. Or you could take the easy way out, buy some and tell everyone that you grew them *grin*.........

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