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Have You Planted Your Pumpkin Yet?

Even though pumpkins are commonly associated with autumn, they are really warm-season plants. Pumpkin seeds cannot germinate in cold soil, and seedlings are easily injured by frost. So, the best time to plant your pumpkin, at least in the United States, is from late May to early July depending on your location. If you want to use them for Halloween, don’t plant them too early — otherwise the fruit may soften and rot before you are ready to use them.

Bees are necessary for pollinating pumpkins, so be careful with insecticides. If you use them, apply only in late afternoon or early evening when the blossoms have closed for the day and bees are no longer visiting the blossoms. Since new blossoms open each day and bees only alight upon open blossoms, they should be safe from contact with any potentially deadly sprays.

Don’t be worried if your plant’s first blossoms don’t develop into fruit. It is common in cucurbits (the family to which pumpkins belong) to have first blossoms that are male. These flowers attract the bees and help establish their route to the blooming vine. Then, once the female flowers bloom, the bees will already be regular visitors to the vine and will pollinate them.

For more information on growing your own pumpkins, check out:

www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/veggies/pumpkin1.html
www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s-2-28-274,00.html
www.sadako.com/pumpkin/growing.html
www.pumpkinnook.com/growing.htm

Or use “grow pumpkins” as key words in your favorite search engine.


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