Growing pumpkins and melons is a very easy thing to do as long
as you give the vines what they need. They grow amazing in our
climate even though the season can be short. Timing, sunlight
and where you plant are all very important in pumpkin and melon
Although pumpkins are a very tough crop (they will grow anywhere!),
if planted too soon seeds will rot. Pumpkins are typically planted in
late May and early June in the Midwest. We watch the weather as
much as we can and make sure it stays warm enough for seed
germination. If they are planted too late they will not have time to
ripen fruit. Pumpkins are vigorously growing vines that require at
least six hours of sunlight per day. Plant seeds in a sunny spot with
plenty of room to spread out because some pumpkin vines can stretch
as far as 30 feet.
When choosing pumpkin seeds, select seeds that have been air dried
rather than dried in an oven, which could remove too much moisture.
Seeds should be firm and evenly colored. We love to choose heirloom
varieties and rare pumpkins. Great sources for these are Baker Creek
Seed Company and Seed Savers.
Pumpkins require between 80 and 130 days before they are mature
enough to pick. We directly sow our seeds when daily temperatures
consistently reach into the low 70s. Although we find our vines do
better when they are directly sowed, you can start your seeds inside
and transplant. You will need to acclimate your plants outside prior
to planting though.
You can plant in rows or hills. For hill planting, you will need to create
a mound of soil with a shallow trench around it for collecting water.
Plant four to five seeds on each hill. Hills should be about 10 feet apart.
We prefer this method. For row planting, create an elevated row of dirt
with small trenches on either side to collect water. We plant two or three
seeds in rows every 18 inches. Rows should be three feet or more apart.
Plant seeds one to one and a half inches deep in loosely packed soil.
Larger pumpkin varieties will need greater space between rows or hill.
Once the pumpkin seeds sprout -- usually in one or two weeks -- great
care should be taken with the seedlings to ensure healthy, vigorous plants
that will yield a good crop of pumpkins. Water young plants regularly but
only at the base of the plant; avoid watering the foliage to minimize mildew.
We have been very lucky in the last few years and have only relied on rainfall.
Thin hills or rows once permanent leaves are established to give each plant
adequate room to grow. You can add fertilizers or compost if desired
although it is not required unless you plan on growing the Blue Ribbon winner!
Melon planting can be a bit harder, but grown same as pumpkin/squash.
Choose the right melon seeds with short growing seasons to ensure a
|Two of my favorite squash recipes:
Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms with
Shaved Baby Squash and Toasted Pumpkin Seed
Squash and Goat Cheese Ravioli
Melon wonderful grilled and tossed with your
favorite veggies/herbs and cheese to make a
cool summer dinner.
Melon with Port and Mint
Melon is wonderful on a hot day on its own,
but can be fun to work with as a great
centerpiece for your next summer party.
-Roses are simple and easy and can be
decorated with lime leaves and herbs.
-Use other fruits/vegetables to add depth and
pizzazz to your centerpiece.