Personal advice and tips from Farmer Chris
I have loved growing and picking pumpkins since I was a child, and in 2017 we decided to open up a field on our farm for customers to come along and enjoy the experience for themselves!
Every October our pumpkin patch will be open for you to pick your own pumpkin in time for halloween! Please keep a check on our website and Facebook page for more details nearer the time; meanwhile, I shot this little video in our inaugural year to show you what I have to do to ensure you have thousands of pumpkins to choose from when you visit!
“I hope I can inspire you to grow your own pumpkins. They really are easy to cultivate and manage – children particularly love to watch them mature from tiny seeds into large, warming Halloween lanterns. Good luck!”
Seeds can be sown in pots from April and planted out May/June for harvest in October.
Fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with compost. Place a seed on its side at 2.5cm (1in) deep and cover. Water and place on a windowsill or in a propagator. When roots begin to show though the bottom of the pot transfer into a 12.5cm (5in) pot.
Once seedlings have established, plant them outside spacing them 2-3m (6-10ft) apart. Choose a sunny and sheltered spot from the wind. As they need plenty of water, sink a 15cm (6in) pot alongside the plants, and water into this to help ensure the water goes right down to the roots and does not sit around the neck of the plant which can lead to rotting. Improve the soil before planting by digging in well-rotted manure or compost.
You can also grow pumpkins in growbags or containers (at least 45cm/18in wide). Plant one or two per growbag, or one per container.
Feed every 10-14 days with a high potash liquid fertiliser once the first fruits start to swell. As they grow, the fruit of pumpkins should be supported off the soil on a piece of tile or glass.
Leave the fruit on the plant for as long as possible to mature and ripen. When the stem cracks and the skin is very tough, the fruit is ready to be picked. Cut fruit off with a long stalk before the first frost. Pumpkins can be stored between four to six months.
Go for pumpkins that feel heavy for their size with a smooth, firm skin. Smaller pumpkins tend to have more flesh.
As pumpkins have very tough skins, a little hard work is needed to get into them! Put the pumpkin on a thick tea towel to keep it steady, then using a large strong knife cut it in half first – it can be hard going, so work in sections until you reach the bottom. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts then cut into chunks or wedges as required.
Kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place, it will keep for several weeks. Once cut, it should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge, where it will keep for around a week.
Cut into chunks and bake or roast (30-40 minutes) or boil (15-20 minutes). Use to make soups, add to stews or mash as a side dish.