Table of contents
- Introducing Pumpkin
- Tropical Varieties
- How to grow pumpkins in Australia
- Growing pumpkin at home from seed
- How to grow pumpkin at home – care
- Eating Pumpkin
Grow pumpkin at home today. In the tropics, plant your seeds late in the wet season, or early in the dry season, water regularly, cheer on the bees and in a few months you can harvest.
Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbitaceae or squash family. Pumpkin originated in Central America thousands of years ago. Hence, they are no stranger to the tropics.
There are over 150 separate species of pumpkin plants. Consequently pumpkin comes in every shape, colour, and size you can imagine.
We grow the Jap or Japanese Pumpkin which does quite well in the tropics. Other varieties of pumpkins you can grow well in tropical areas include the Queensland Blue, Butternut and Buttercup.
How to grow pumpkins in Australia
Location and Soil
Pumpkins grow over a large area, so make sure you have enough space. It is a really good idea to have a trellis for your pumpkin vines to grow up.
Because they grow so vigorously, a trellis will give them some direction and for the urban gardener, a trellis helps you to grow vertically, which allows you make the most out of your limited space.
Pumpkin does well in a good enriched soil. So add plenty of well-rotted compost and/or manure. In the tropics, it is a good idea to plant into raised mounds, so the soil will not remain too wet.
Growing pumpkin at home from seed
Time needed: 3 minutes
How to grow pumpkin from seed.
- Collect seed:
Use the pumpkin seeds you have collected previously. If you are a new grower, the simplest and cheapest way to grow pumpkin is from the seeds of a supermarket bought pumpkin.
- Confirm site:
When your seeds are ready to plant, you can start them out in potting mix using seed trays and transplant them later. However, we plant ours directly into prepared ground where we want them to grow.
Plant your pumpkin seeds 2cm (1in) deep. One vine will cover around 3 metres, but always over-sow. If more seedlings germinate than you need, simply thin them out.
- Sun and Water:
Make sure you have planted your seeds or seedlings in an area that gets full sun, where you can water regularly.
Pinch out the ends of rambling stems to help contain growth (unless you have heaps of space).
How to grow pumpkin at home – care
You can hand pollinate your pumpkin, but if you have natural pollinators in your garden they will do the work for you.
Provided you have plenty of bees around and a number of flowering pumpkin plants, pollination will occur naturally.
Watering regularly is important, as most of your pumpkin growing will take place during the ‘dry season’ in the tropics. However, pumpkins do not like sitting in a puddle, so take care to get the balance right.
Apply a rich compost and/or well composted manure to the soil before planting. Fertilise regularly after your pumpkin seedlings emerge, but do not use a fertiliser too high in nitrogen. If you use too much nitrogen your pumpkin vines will become large, but not produce fruit.
Pests and Diseases
Hot and humid conditions make downy mildew a problem in the tropics. However, you can combat this by not overcrowding your pumpkins and by crop rotation.
An additional control method is to cut off old leaves that are yellow and dying to prevent mildew spreading from them to new un-diseased leaves. Neem oil is one organic solution you can apply. It will help to combat certain insects and fungal diseases.
How to grow pumpkin at home: Pruning
You don’t prune pumpkin for the sake of it. Thus you prune pumpkin for a purpose. Indeed this purpose may be encouraging growth, redirecting the plant, or removing disease or damage. Work out your objective and prune accordingly.
Never prune off more than 30 per cent of your leaves at one time.
The reason we all grow pumpkin at home is to enjoy the harvest. In addition, consuming pumpkin has real health benefits.
A number of studies have indicated that eating more plant foods such as pumpkin reduces the risk of obesity and obesity related diseases.
Pumpkin are a wonderful source of fibre. Indeed, this is important as more fibre in the diet has been shown to help with weight loss, digestion and bowel function.
Pumpkin is full of nutrients that will boost your immune system. Indeed these nutrients include vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Furthermore, pumpkin contains beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that can help avoid some cancers and reduce the likelihood of some heart diseases.
Pumpkin contains prebiotic fibre which helps beneficial microbes to populate the gut and bowel.
So, in light of these health benefits, now you know how to grow pumpkin at home, why not get planting?
Other Tropical Vegetables
- Malabar Spinach
- Pak Choi
- Perpetual Spinach
- Snake Beans
- Sweet Potato