20 October 2022
Horticulture Hacks

Growing Pumpkins for Cooking

Dried and Pressed Edible Flower for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, and we all know what the best part of Halloween is.. Pumpkins! Whether you use them for a family pumpkin carving activity or an ingredient in a spooktacular Halloween pie – you can’t beat the seasonal festivities of a pumpkin.

However, if you’ve had enough of your annual trip to the supermarket to purchase a trolley full of rather heavy pumpkins, Martyn is here to help. Martyn, our head grower has lots of insights into tips and tricks when it comes to growing your own plants. So, if you want to grow the BIGGEST and BEST pumpkins, keep reading!

We recently received a query from someone who lives very local to us, Emma Wilson. Emma would love to grow her own pumpkins at home, in preparation for Autumn 2023. We received this question from her, and Martyn was more than happy to help.

Hi Martyn,

Could you please advise me on the best way to grow pumpkins at home? I am new to gardening and would like to grow pumpkins to harvest next year. I’ve seen some pumpkin seeds in the supermarket that I would really like to buy. They look amazing in the pictures on the packet! I want to buy them, but I don’t really know where to start. I’m scared that they won’t grow, and it’ll be a waste of time and money. Is it too early to sew seeds now? And can I plant them outside or do they need to be kept inside? I’ve never really grown anything at home before, so I’m very unsure of where to start!

Hi Emma,

Firstly, there is no need to be scared! Pumpkins are really easy to grow and look great in the autumn time. Pumpkins need to be left in a sunny position, preferably where the sunlight catches them for the majority of the day. They also need plenty of water and shelter from harsh weather conditions.

I preferably think that growing the pumpkins from seed is best. Using fresh seeds will ensure good germination and give you the best possible chance of success. The seeds should be sewn between April and early May and be 1cm below the surface of some good quality multi-purpose compost. Using 7.5cm pots is best and they should be kept indoors in a warm place at around 18-21°C. This is the perfect temperature, and the seeds should be watered well to ensure that they don’t dry out.

You can also sow the pumpkin seeds directly outside where you want your plants to grow. Sow two or three seeds per planting hole, at around 3cm deep. This should be done in late May or early June. Whilst planting the seeds ensure that you plant them on their edge and not flat. This will ensure the best possible growth. After this, cover the seeds with cloches, jars, or plastic sheeting. Leave this in place for two weeks, or as long as possible. After germination, thin the seedlings, leaving only the strongest ones to grow on.

In late May, start hardening off the indoor-raised plants, in order to acclimatise the to the harsher outdoor conditions. This can be done by placing them into a cold frame for around one week. These can be purchased from most gardening shops, places like homebase, B&Q or even amazon. If you don’t have a cold frame, you can move the plants outside during the day and bring them back indoors during the night. This will gradually acclimatise the plants. The following week, the plants can be left in a sheltered spot for 24 hours a day – ensure that they are left in a nice and sunny area. The pumpkin plants can be planted outside in early June when the risk of frost has passed.

Before you plant or sow the seeds outdoors, ensure that you prepare the planting site. This can be done by making holes that are about a spade’s depth and width. Backfill these with a mixture of garden compost or well-rotted manure and soil. Sprinkle a general-purpose fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4 over the soil at a rate of two handfuls per square metre. The pumpkins should be spaced around 2 metres apart to allow for lots of growth.

One thing that pumpkins need plenty of is water. Hydration is key for a healthy growth with any living plant. So, to make your life much easier, sink a 15cm pot alongside each plant. Put water into this pot to ensure that the water goes down into the roots and doesn’t sit around the neck of the plant, this can lead to rotting.

Try to ensure that you feed the plants every 10-14 days with a high potassium liquid fertiliser, such as tomato feed. Once the pumpkins start to swell, you can support developing fruits on a piece of tile or glass to keep them off of the damp soil. If you follow all these instructions, then your pumpkins will be the perfect size to harvest when autumn arrives.

Cream of Basil & Pumpkin soup Cream of Basil & Pumpkin soup

The harvested pumpkins will be great for carving or decorating for any Halloween celebration. If you enjoy incorporating pumpkin into recipes, then we’ve got lots of ideas to share with you. Firstly, pumpkins are known to compliment Basil. Basil possesses notes of citrus, clove, anise and even cinnamon. There is lots of ways that pumpkin flavours can be used alongside fresh Basil, and they’re super easy ways too. They can be used together in pasta dishes, stir-fries, soups and even curries. All of these dishes can be made completely vegetarian or even vegan. If you wanted to add even more flavour, try using our Basil herb oil which would be a great way to infuse flavour. This infused herb oil is often used to uplift pasta dishes with its powerful flavours. Doesn’t pumpkin pasta infused with basil sound absolutely delicious?! It’s an unusual combination but once you give it a try, you’ll be sure to love it! Head over to vegan heaven to find out exactly how to make this mouth-watering dish.

Pumpkin Pie with Dried Orange Slices Pumpkin Pie with Dried Orange Slices

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then a pumpkin pie is sure to satisfy those sweet cravings. Pumpkin pie is one of those desserts that has to be eaten once a year as it’s full of those delicious spices that remind you that autumn has arrived, things like nutmeg, cinnamon ginger, cloves and many more. Not to mention the yummy foods it can be served with, double cream, whipped cream, clotted cream, custard, nuts and even maple syrup. This year if you fancy impressing your family with a spectacular pumpkin pie, then why not add some delightful decorations too. Our Halloween Edible Flowers can enhance an array of different dishes with their beauty and flavours too.

If you’re making a pumpkin pie for any Halloween event, then our Halloween Edible Flowers and Dried Fruit are here to help you. We have created a fresh Edible Halloween Flower & Leaf wheel, that contains 7 different variations of orange and black Edible Leaves and Flowers. This could be used to elevate any Halloween dish, especially pumpkin pie. This would definitely impress everyone at dinner time. We’ve also created some limited edition Dried Edible Halloween mixes. These Dried Flower Petals are perfect for decorating party food, with their confetti-like appearance. They are also available in an array of different colours too and are great for adding unique texture to your pumpkin pie. Dried Flowers have a very subtle flavour but have quite a crunchy texture, so are awesome for adding a unique consistency to any culinary creation.

Did you know that pumpkins are considered a superfood? They are full of nutrients and very low in calories too! This makes them great for incorporating into lots of your Autumnus dishes. Head over to Health Essentials to find out more about the amazing benefits that pumpkins can have on your body.

We hope that we have helped to answer your queries on pumpkin growing and we think that growing your own pumpkins in definitely worth giving a go, if you have the space to do so. There are lots of recipes available online that incorporate pumpkins and they’re really easy to follow, you don’t need to be a skilled chef to create delicious and nutritious meals for you and your family at home.

If you have any more questions or even concerns about growing your own pumpkins or even vegetable at home, please give me an email at martyn@nurturedinnorfolk.co.uk

I love to help people in any way that I can and share my gardening tips with you all. If you do decide to create any yummy recipes using your home-grown pumpkins, we’d love to see them! Tag us on Instagram or pop us an email at info@nurturedinnorfolk.co.uk