How to grow the perfect pumpkin

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lots of people like to head to their local farmers market to pick up a few pumpkins each fall, either to display or carve. But what if you could plant and create a pumpkin patch in the comfort of your backyard?

At first thought, this may sound hard, but it’s actually not. It just requires a little bit of effort several months leading up to October.

Pumpkin planting season

Pumpkin planting season actually starts in summer and takes about 4 months. You’ll have to also replant the seeds each year. So if you want the pumpkins to arrive by October just in time for the spooky season, you’ll need to do the planting by June.

Failure to have good drainage could result in root rot. This would obviously be bad for the crop. If the area that you live in prevents you from having the best soil and drainage don’t worry. There is an easy fix.

Adding organic matter such as peat moss and compost can help with this. They not only provide great food to your soil but they prevent compaction. This allows for more aeration, which helps maintain sufficient oxygen levels and helps retain water. Pumpkins require a whole lot of water. Specifically 30 inches or so of rain to thrive.

Pumpkins and temperature

So with Texas’ hot and dry summers, you want to make sure you plan on being very attentive to your growing pumpkins and perhaps shading them on the harshest of summer days. Prolonged periods of hot and dry weather could cause you to yield too many male blossoms, and too few female resulting in a smaller crop.

Frost and early season freeze harms pumpkins and shortens storage life so always prepare to harvest ahead of a freeze or you can cover them to keep them warm.

Avoiding pumpkin disease

It is also a good reminder to never water the pumpkin as a whole. Only water the roots without moving around the soil too much. Stagnant water on the pumpkin can cause disease.

To grow the perfect pumpkin, you want to make sure to constantly turn your pumpkin to encourage it to grow in an even shape. Place cardboard underneath the growing pumpkin as well to avoid decay or insect damage.

A pumpkin is ready to be picked when it has changed into a deep solid color, orange for most varieties. When harvesting, never just pull and tear. Cut the stem with a sharp knife at least three inches from the fruit.

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