Growing Pumpkins for Jack-o-Lanterns

     I know it's too late to grow pumpkins for Halloween this year, but now is the time of year we think about them, so here are a few tips on growing good pumpkins for Jack-o-lanterns. Keep them in mind for your garden next year.

1.  Pick the right seed
     Some varieties of pumpkins are better for cooking. They tend to be smaller with thicker flesh. Other varieties are better for carving. They tend to be larger with thinner flesh. Not that you can't cook a carving pumpkin or carve a cooking pumpkin, it's just that choosing the right variety makes what you intend to do with the pumpkin easier. Read the seed packages to determine what kind of pumpkin it is.

2.  Plant in the right spot
     Pumpkins like a lot of sun and plenty of room. I plant mine next to the corn. The pumpkin vines are able to spread through the corn. An added benefit is that critters like raccoons and skunks don't like walking on the prickly stems of pumpkins, so they stay out of my corn.

3.  Limit the number of pumpkins per vine
     Once pumpkins begin to form, pinch off all but two or three per vine. The plant will put all of its energy into those few pumpkins rather than spreading it out over more. The result will be larger pumpkins.

4.  Stand the pumpkins up
     Whatever side of the pumpkin is on the ground will grow flat. Think about Jack-o-lanterns. Which side do you want to be flat? The bottom, of course. So when the pumpkins are small, stand them up so the bottom will be flat and the sides nice and round.

Happy carving!


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