A study stated that plant pumpkins with a little effort and care can be more profitable than row crops. A pumpkin is a round fruit from the variety of winter squash and has a smooth, ribbed skin with a yellow or deep orange colour. Planting pumpkins is extremely easy and inexpensive, as well as profitable.
Pumpkins have immense health benefits like low-calorie content that is rich in many nutrients and minerals, etc.
Pumpkins require a long planting period, i.e. around 75 to 100 frost-free days. In Northern locations, they should be planted by late May, whereas in Southern places, it is ideal for growing in early July.
Pumpkin seeds get damaged in frost, so always wait for the last frost to pass before sowing.
Pumpkins need a vast space to grow because of their sprawling vines and a site with full sunlight—pumpkins like a rich soil that is well-drained but should not be soggy. Mix lots of aged manure and compost into the soil before sowing.
It is better to plant pumpkins by seeds when the soil temperature is around 75 degrees or more. Pumpkin seeds are quite sensitive to the cold, and the optimum temperature to sow seeds is 95 degrees.
An ideal way to plant seeds is in rows or hills as it allows the soil to warm and seeds to germinate faster. It also proves beneficial in pest control. To prepare elevations in advance, work in aged manure or compost deep into the ground, around 12 to 15 inches. Seeds must be planted 1 inch deep with the hills at least 4 to 8 feet apart.
Under suitable conditions, seeds would germinate in less than a week and emerge in around 5 to 10 days. Once the plants are around 1 to 3 inches in height, thin them out, so there are only 2 to 3 plants on each hill and make sure to snip off any unwanted plants. Be mindful not to disturb the roots of the remaining plants.
- Cover rows in early stages to avoid insects and infestations but remember to uncover before flowering begins.
- Water consistently. Pumpkins need at least one inch of water per week, especially during fruiting time.
- The fruit and foliage should not be wet while watering as it promotes rot, so keep them dry.
- Mulch is useful for retaining moisture, suppressing weeds, and discouraging pests.
- Controlling weeds by mulch is essential as over cultivating can harm the tender plants and roots.
- Be patient if the first flowers do not form fruits.
- Avoid overuse of insecticides as it can kill bees that are otherwise very important in pollination and fruit forming.
- Be careful not to damage the pumpkin vines as the quality of fruit depends on the vines.
Pumpkins should only be harvested once they are fully mature. Their ripening stage is when they turn a deep and solid orange in colour. To check if the pumpkin is ripened or not, thump on it, and it will sound hollow, try to puncture the skin with your nail, but the hard skin would resist it, indicating that the fruit is ripened.
Cut the fruit off the vines with a sharp knife leaving around 3 to 4 inches of stem on the fruit. Pumpkins must be handled very gently.
Let the pumpkins dry under the sun for about a week; it will help toughen their skin, then you can store them in a cool, dry area.
- To supply and furnish the heavy feeding of pumpkins, regularly treat with manure or compost.
- Water well.
- Fertilization periodically is necessary. Use a high nitrogen formula in early stages and high phosphorus formula before the blooming period.
- Prune the vines to help with spacing.
- Keep heavy cardboard under the ripening fruits as it helps avoid decay or insect damage.
- Yellowish pumpkins can be fed to the cattle, like cows.
- If pumpkin fruit growth is limited, grow some flowers to attract bees, and promote pollinations.
Planting crops, fruits, vegetables etc. comes along with pests and diseases that are problematic to the farmers. Insect invasion and other kinds of diseases may damage pumpkins.
Best is to treat the diseases as early as possible as it will reduce the chances of much damage. For identifying the symptoms of diseases is essential. Following are some of the primary diseases found in pumpkins.
- Powdery mildew: A fungal disease, this looks exactly like what it sounds like. The symptoms are first seen on the lower surface of the leaf; powdery mildew is a white “powdery” covering of spores, which eventually disintegrates the pumpkin plants. Fortunately, we can quickly identify this disease by the appearance of its early symptoms.
- Anthracnose: This disease begins as brown as a coloured spot outlined with darker margins.
- Black rot: Caused by a fungus, this disease shows symptoms of grey blotches which ultimately turn into blackened areas on the fruits.
Types of Pumpkins
It is one of the smallest pumpkins which comes from the Hokkaido island in Japan. It is delightful, tasting like chestnuts or peanuts. It is considered healthy since it is rich in nutrients and minerals.
Turkish Turbans Pumpkin
As the name suggests, these pumpkins resemble Turkish turbans in looks. They weigh around 40kg and are found in a variety of colours.
Such pumpkins are non-edible and are used entirely for decoration purposes.
These pumpkins are hybrid and heirloom and are known for their unique witch-like appearances. They are mostly edible and have a sweet taste.
So-called because of their pale-yellow coloured appearance, cheese pumpkins are mostly edible and have a strong flavour. They are found in a variety of size and people often use them to decorate their porch or gardens.
- Pumpkins are delicious and nutritious fruits with immense health benefits. Few of them are shown in the list below:
- Pumpkins are low in calories, and 94% of a pumpkin is water.
- They are enriched in vitamins like vitamin A.
- Pumpkins contain carotenoids that promote healthy skin. They lower the risk of cancer because of the antioxidants.
- They contain vitamins that boost your immune system like vitamins C and A.
Pumpkins have many other benefits like they can be used in a diet easily because of their sweet flavour, for example in brownies, pie, cookies, etc. Pumpkins are also used in skin products like facial masks. However, pumpkins are the most famous for their use on Halloween for fun carvings which has become a yearly ritual.
Pumpkins have immense benefits and are famous as an edible fruit as well as for entertainment purposes like Halloween. Plant pumpkins are inexpensive, whereas the income is very profitable.
New recipes using pumpkins have been popping up in different countries, and as restaurants promote those dishes, the demand for pumpkins is expected to only go higher with time. If you plant pumpkins then you get profitable revenue back when sold in market.