According to the National Garden Bureau, 2019 is the Year of the Pumpkin! If pumpkins are on your list for planting next year, there are lots to choose from. Check out these pumpkin varieties this fall in the stores and pumpkin patches!
Though we did not plant any pumpkins this spring, it would have been a good year to do it because all our plants in that family—the cucurbits, including squash, cucumbers, and melons—did extremely well this season.
Pumpkins range from tiny 8 ounce 'Wee-B-Little' to humongous 'Dill's Atlantic Giant' that can grow to weigh over 1,000 pounds!
We are not limited to shades of orange. There are white, green, gray, pink, yellow, and tan pumpkins.
Who knew, even blue!
Shapes can vary as well, from round, to flattened, to Cinderella's coach.
The flat ones are great for stacking.
Pumpkins are not just for decorating; the flesh on many varieties is delicious and the seeds can be roasted for a nutritious, nutty snack. The flesh is high in potassium, fiber, iron, and vitamins A,B, & C.
Some good eating and pie pumpkins are 'New England Pie', the classic pie pumpkin, it takes about 105 days to reach maturity. For a shorter season try 'Cinnamon Girl' which is ready 85 days from planting. Both weigh about 5 pounds.
For a good sized jack-o'-lantern try 'Howden'. It reaches 20-35 pounds in 115 days and is easy to carve.
If pumpkin seeds are your favorite fall treat try growing a hull-less variety like 'Naked Bear'. It has a small fruit with lots of seeds, makes a nice little jack-o'-lantern at 2-4 pounds and the tasty flesh will make one pie.
Planting Pumpkin Tips
To be ready for fall decorating, start seeds indoors a month before you want to set them out in the garden or plant the seeds directly in the ground once the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.
You'll need space to give pumpkins room to run. The vines will spread 8 feet or more depending on the variety.
To protect the young plants from insect attack, cover them with reemay until they start to flower. Then you need to remove the covers so the plants can get pollinated. By that time they should have a strong headstart.
Fertilize them regularly throughout the growing season. A foliar feeding of fish emulsion and seaweed will supply trace minerals and has been shown to reduce powdery mildew attacks.
Water is critical since 80% of a pumpkin's weight is water.
Harvest when the vines start to die back and the stems start to dry.
Cure them in a warm spot, 70-80 degrees to develop flavor and toughen the skin and then store any that you want to keep in a cool dry place.
Otherwise dig right in and start carving your jack-o'-lanterns and making your autumn displays.
If like me you missed the year of the pumpkin in 2019, as we Red Sox fans say, "There is always next year!"