Pumpkin growing, although better suited to more temperate climates, is perfectly possible in Canada. In fact the Canada's largest recorded home grown pumpkin weighed-in at a monstrous 821.5 kilograms! You may not have set your sights quite as high as that but with a little care and the right timing you can grow pumpkins in your own vegetable patch, or even in a pot, for adding to an array of recipes and for carving into Halloween lanterns. Many varieties are available and depending on what you have planned for your pumpkin post harvest (and once ripe) pumpkins can be stored for as long as six months.
Pumpkins thrive best when they are warm and need a day-time temperature of over 17C and a night-time temperature of at least 15C, (at least until they are planted out) so in Canada it would be wise to start your pumpkins off inside in April, to be moved outside when your seedlings are stronger and the temperature has risen (approx. June).
You should leave your pumpkin on the plant for as long as possible to mature. You will know it is ripening when the skin is very tough and turns a deep, solid color (orange for the most common varieties). To test for maturity press the pumpkin with your thumb; if it’s ripe the rind will feel hard and sound hollow. The skin should also be able to withstand pressure from your fingernail. As a rough guide it should take around 100 days from planting your pumpkin outside to it reaching full maturity.
To harvest the pumpkin cut it carefully off the vine using pruners or a sharp knife. Take care not to cut too close to the pumpkin however, as leaving a long stem (of around 10cms) will increase its shelf life. Store your pumpkins somewhere dry, cool and dark where they will keep for up to six months.
If you don’t have garden space, but still want to give pumpkin growing a try, you can actually use a growbag or a pot/container, as long as it is large enough: at least 45cms wide and able to hold around 70 litres. Use high quality potting soil and make sure the pot has good drainage (lots of holes to let water out); pumpkins like a lot of water, but hate to sit in wet soil (this can cause them to go mouldy). Only one seed should be planted per pot. Place the pot in the sunniest spot you can find, and remember, even the smaller varieties need a lot of light to develop. Your plant should be getting at least six hours of sunlight a day. Water your plant regularly, and feed it with diluted liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks whilst it is developing and until the fruit appears. Within three months you should be the proud owner of a healthy and delicious pumpkin!
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