Beautiful, tasty and healthy pumpkins (Cucurbita) are one of the symbols of autumn. They belong to the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). There are about 800 varieties of them. Over 200 are edible and many more are decorative to use as colorful fall decorations.
Species cultivated all over the world: fig, giant, musk and garden gourds. The most widespread are giant, musky and garden.
It is a vigorous plant with broad shrub-like leaves. The branched climbing gourd vines are thick but very fragile. Care must be taken not to damage them, as this can reduce the quality of the fruit.
Pumpkin requires a lot of space for its cultivation, it produces food or fodder rather large fruits of various shapes and colors: yellow, orange, red, green-white. The pumpkin fruit is round and oblong in shape, of various sizes.
Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers (large yellow bell flower). Male flowers usually open first and fall off.
Pollination of flowers occurs by pollinating insects, mainly bees, which carry the pollen inside the male flowers to the ovary inside the female flowers.
In cool weather, fruits may not develop or fall from the plant at a young age because the flowers have not been pollinated. You can help with manual pollination using a brush to transfer pollen from a male flower to a female one.
Recognizing male and female flowers is very easy. The female flowers are attached to the main stem of the plant, while the male flowers develop from a thin stem about 10 cm long that connects them to the main stem. Seeds are large, oval, white or yellowish. They are dried or oil is pressed out of them.
They are grown for the sweet pulp of the fruit, which is used in many culinary recipes.
Pumpkin fruits have great nutritional value, as they contain vitamins, fatty acids and carotenoids.
Gourds in the open ground care
Pumpkin is a heat-loving, drought-resistant plant. It should be grown in the lightest area. In the shade, the harvest will be limited or no fruit will be tied at all. Grows well in fertile, well-drained soil. In general, pumpkin grows well in any soil, except for strongly acidic and alkaline soils.
- Choose a site with full sun.
- It is better when the seeds are planted directly in the ground.
- Delicate plants are very sensitive to cold.
- Pumpkins need a lot of space for spreading vines.
- Requires rich, well-drained and not too wet soil.
- Need a lot of water.
Pumpkin is propagated by both seedlings and seeds. The optimal time for planting is when the soil is completely warm, and the average daily air temperature exceeds + 10 ° C. Seeds germinate at a temperature of +13 °C, and at a lower temperature they do not develop and rot in the soil.
Preparing a place for growing pumpkins
Pumpkins grow well next to sunflowers or sweet corn as they get shade. Potatoes are less suitable as a vegetable neighbor. Legumes are good predecessors.
To plant a sweet pumpkin in early April, young seedlings are prepared earlier. It takes about a month to prepare seedlings. It is sown in paper cups in a greenhouse or at home.
The seedling is transplanted into the ground when it has three perfect leaves. At the end of May or June, plants can be movedplant in a sunny, sheltered spot in an open bed. The right time to plant seeds will depend on the climate of the area. Even in areas where summers are long and hot, pumpkins should be planted early in the summer.
You can sow pumpkin seeds directly into the ground. They need high temperatures and relative humidity to germinate. They germinate in about 10-12 days at the right temperature. Before planting pumpkin seeds, they need to be soaked overnight in warm water.
How far apart should pumpkins be planted? With a sharp end down, the seeds are pressed into the soil by about two to four centimeters. The planting distance is up to 150×150 cm, as the plants are very long shoots and take up a lot of space.
3 seeds are sown in each hole, and when shoots appear, one of the strongest plants is left. You can’t leave everything – they will interfere with each other and the harvest will be very small.
If the variety is rare and there are few seeds, then one seed can be sown, but they must first be soaked in hot water (about 50 ° C) for 3-4 hours. This will protect them from pathogens and help them germinate faster.
Pumpkin care for her. They take a long time to grow and it is important that they are well watered and fed as they grow. The soil must be kept evenly moist. The large leaves evaporate a lot of water, and the fruits also have a high water requirement.
During the flowering period, reduce the frequency of watering to obtain a satisfactory fruit set. Pumpkin roots are so long that they easily extract water from the lower layers of the soil. Too much water on the soil surface can cause diseases.
Important! When watering, avoid wetting the leaves, as this encourages powdery mildew. Straw is placed under each emerging pumpkin to protect against fungal diseases that begin to develop on fruits from soil dampness. Mulch the soil around the pumpkin to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and repel pests.
As for fertilizers, it responds well to top dressing with organic fertilizers in order to develop its huge fruits. Compost, well-rotted manure and organic fertilizers are introduced during planting. If the pumpkin grows in fertile soil, additional fertilizers are not needed. If the land is poor, then over the summer it should be fed 3 times.
When the first fruits appear, the plants are fed every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer containing potassium. Repeat application of full organic fertilizer every month. Mineral nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided.
The formation of lashes allows them not to waste their strength on extra ovaries and shoots. Due to this, larger fruits with better taste characteristics grow.
Pay attention! It is not necessary to prune the vines, but if they have a lot of stem growth and do not produce fruit, prune the side shoots of the top to set fruit. When the main stem reaches a length of 1.5 m, it is pinched, leaving only 2 lateral shoots up to 70 cm long. A fruit ripens on each of them.
Pests and diseases
What diseases and insects affect pumpkin cultivation? To protect plants, dense plantings are avoided, thus reducing the possibility of developing fungal diseases.
The culture is susceptible to powdery mildew. This fungal disease leaves a white coating on the leaves. Extended periods of dryness in the summer favor the disease, and regular watering may help.
It is only important to water the soil and not let the leaves get wet. If the leaves are affected by powdery mildew, they are immediately removed and discarded.
Pay attention! Around the root and on the leaves, at temperatures below 30°C, sprinkle with sulfur. Spray pumpkin plants every 2 weeks with an environmental solution made from one tablespoon of green soap and one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol per liter of water.
Pumpkin plants are quite susceptible to pests such as fleas, beetles and some other insects. Pests can be controlled by removing them manually or by spraying with a strong jet of water.
When a pumpkin is removed from the garden
Do not rush into cleaning – the longer the pumpkins are in the garden, the tastier and healthier they will be. By the time of harvest, the fruits must be fully ripe.
When is the pumpkin harvest? It is harvested in autumn, 4-5 months after planting. They reach maturity when the skin hardens and acquires the desired shade. The ripened fruit is very easy to recognize: the stalk is already stiff, the color is bright. In addition, a ripe gourd will make a dull sound when tapped lightly.
It is important to harvest them before frost. To store pumpkins in winter, you need to pick them in sunny weather. In the case of harvesting in the rain, the fruits must be dried for 2 weeks in a ventilated room at a temperature of about 25 ° C before storage. Cut the fruit so that the stalk remains. Without it, the fruit quickly rots.