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How To Grow Your Own

‘Great Pumpkin’ Essay, Research Paper

How To Grow Your Own Great PumpkinAre you stressed out every year when you have to go with your children to pick out the perfect pumpkin for Halloween? Maybe your little ones have their eye on the behemoth in the corner with the eighty-dollar price tag. It seems so innocuous sitting there, all orange and round, but it knows the power it holds with [over]the under-eight set. Other pumpkins pale in comparison, and if you were a good parent, that pumpkin would be coming home with you. As your kids plead and cajole, you realize that getting it home is only the first of many problems that you might encounter. Dealing with Dad and the issue of cost is also important. Dutifully, you steer your children toward the lesser pumpkin siblings. After many threats and tears, another, smaller squash is chosen. When you leave, with a demoralized pumpkin on one arm and your tearstained children in tow, you hate that big pumpkin for causing you all this hassle. The truth is, this little scene could have been avoided.You don’t have to spend megabucks to keep your kids happy at Halloween. Here is the perfect, easy way to grow massive pumpkins in your yard with little time and effort.Before you plant, be certain the area gets eight to ten hours of strong sunlight a day. Pumpkins grown in the shade will often refuse to set fruit. If they manage to produce, shade raised pumpkins are small, distorted and anemic. Remember, great pumpkins are the ones with the bright orange “tan”.Choosing the type of pumpkin you will grow is as important as choosing the site. You will not be able to grow large pumpkins unless you pick a seed that comes from a large variety. Big Max and Atlantic Giant are two of the most popular giant pumpkins. If you can’t find these varieties at your local nursery, many seed catalogs carry them.Plant the seeds when nightly temperatures do not drop below 50f. People who want to get a jump on the season need to start the seed indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost of the season.Carefully nick the hard seed coat with your fingernail or a sharp knife but do not cut completely into the seed. Place the seeds into a glass of water to soak overnight. Breaching the shells and soaking the seeds will make pumpkins sprout faster. Any seeds that are still floating after twenty-four hours should be discarded because they will not sprout.

Viable seeds should be planted about three inches deep in well amended soil. Soil augmented with lots of organic material will bring out the best in your pumpkin. Organic material can be any one of the following: sawdust, decayed leaves, lawn clippings, animal manures, shredded newspaper and composted table scraps. Make sure these items are in a fairly advanced state of decomposition before you use them. I have had the greatest success by liberally applying barnyard manure to the soil before planting. Plant the seeds in groups of three in small mounds. After the seeds are planted, sprinkle a quarter cup of blood and bone meal, available at most garden centers, over the mound and water. This organic mixture will provide a long-lasting meal for your plants. Remember, great pumpkins are well-fed pumpkins.As the seedlings emerge, they will not look much like pumpkins. If you see two round, opposite leaves, they probably belong to a pumpkin and not some noxious weed. Always protect your seedlings! Nothing looks more tasty to a hungry bird than tender young pumpkin plants. Netting can be used to cover the plants until they are a little more mature and a little less tempting. Remember, great pumpkins are protected pumpkins.This next step is the most important. If you don’t follow my advice, you will have pumpkins coming out of your ears. You must cut all but one pumpkin off each vine. [The plants will be less stressed . . .] There will be less stress on the plants and the pumpkins will be larger if they don’t have to compete with each other. Remember, great pumpkins are lonely pumpkins.During the warm summer months, your pumpkins will grow and grow. Mound soil over the vines every two feet. Mounding will encourage advantageous roots to form and will add vigor to your plants. Give your plants lots of water but make sure the ground isn’t soggy. Put a board under your pumpkins to prevent rot. When the fruits are large enough, position their bottoms so they sit flat on the board. Remember, great pumpkins are flat-bottomed pumpkins.If you want pumpkins for Halloween, you should have them in the ground by June first. If they ripen sooner, don’t worry. Pumpkins will keep for several months if kept in a cool, dry place. Your pumpkins will be ready to harvest when the stalks start to shrivel. Harvesting pumpkins is as easy as “pumpkin pie”! Cut the dried stems with sharp scissors or shears. Your pumpkins can be carved right away or stored for later use, perhaps a Thanksgiving pie.

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