If there were a Guinness Book of Vegetables - the pumpkin would undoubtedly play an important role in it. Not only that some crazy fans grow mighty pumpkins that weigh more than a ton. Hardly any other type of vegetable inspires with such a variety of shapes and colors. About 800 varieties are known, more than 100 of which are suitable for consumption. And there is probably no vegetable in this world that, hollowed out and adorned with a grimace, delights and scares millions of children in equal measure. Now Halloween, Hokkaido, Butternut and Co. are lying around at every weekly market at the appropriate time of year. Allotment gardeners and homeowners can easily plant, care for and harvest the tasty giants themselves.
Read here what is important when planting pumpkins, which varieties are best suited for the garden and how best to store pumpkins.
Compared to many other types of vegetables, pumpkins, which are strictly botanically fruit vegetables, are quite undemanding and relatively easy to care for. This starts with pulling and planting out. After just one week, the cotyledons stick their little heads out of the ground. Important: If you want to prefer the plants on your windowsill at home, you can do so from March. Depending on the weather, you should wait until May before direct sowing outdoors. Pre-grown young plants can go outside from mid-May. The week before, give them a few hours of fresh air during the day. This hardens and makes it easier to move from the window to the outdoor bed.
When it comes to soil, too, most squash plants will not settle for much. They develop just as reliably on loamy soil as on sandy soil rich in humus. Basically, pumpkins only need sufficient water (as nutrient-rich as possible) to grow. Which brings us to another special feature: pumpkins feel extremely comfortable on or even in the compost. Planting them at the bottom of the pile will make use of both the moist soil and the nutrient-rich water that seeps down through the compost. If this is also in a more or less sunny and not completely open place, you can look up the recipe for the pumpkin soup. (For example from this pumpkin guide) If you want to create compost first, put the pumpkin plant or seed in a bed in the first year.
Important: Pumpkins are heavy feeders and should therefore only be planted in the same location every five years.
Important: The young plants should not form more than three true leaves before planting out. Growth can be controlled via room temperature after germination.
Planting outdoors is often the moment that decides whether a plant will develop as desired, languish puny or even die completely. You should therefore also work with the pumpkin with extreme caution. Its roots are very brittle and must not be damaged when stuffing. With growing pots made of cellulose you avoid this danger. Here the plant is placed in the ground together with the pot. In such a way that the surface of the root ball or the upper edge of the pot is about two finger widths below the ground level. Irrespective of whether the plants are planted out in the compost or in an ordinary vegetable bed, they should be watered extensively afterwards.
A handful of edible pumpkin varieties have established themselves in German gardens. There are also dozens of types of ornamental gourds that look great in a bowl on the living room table - but are not suitable for consumption because of their bitter substances (cucurbitacins).
Popular squash are:
The best way to tell when pumpkins are ready to harvest is by looking at their stalks. In late summer and throughout autumn they become dry and woody. If you want to be on the safe side, tap the peel a few times in the middle of the fruit. If that sounds hollow, the pumpkin is ripe and can be harvested. If the pumpkin is not to be eaten immediately, it feels most comfortable in a dark, cool and, above all, dry place. An open shelf, for example, in the pantry is an option. Winter squashes like the Hokkaido can be stored for several months in this way. Summer squash, which have a much thinner and more delicate skin, only last about two weeks.
Sources: "meine-ernte.de"; "mein-schoener-garten.de"; "utopia.de"; "brigitte.de"
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