As the most iconic of all winter squashes, pumpkin is instantly associable with October – both as a Halloween decorating idea – and a staple of fall recipes.
Therefore, at this point of the year, it is only natural to start wondering how to grow pumpkins – so you can enjoy this fall favorite straight from your garden.
And there is no better person to consult than gardening guru Monty Don whose gardening ideas have fuelled our patches around the year – and, of course – Monty Don’s tips for growing pumpkin are no exception.
Here, he reveals what you need to know this October – and how to make the most of the season in space-saving style.
Monty Don’s tips for growing pumpkin
Despite their tasty benefits, Monty admits that growing pumpkin can be ‘something of a luxury’ because of their size. Plus, they make ‘superb short-term ground cover –and will happily coexist with taller plants such as sweet corn as long as they have rich, deeply dug soil for their roots to get into.’
In his column (opens in new tab), he notes how you can also grow them in pots or up a wall or trellis. ‘I would recommend Little Gem or Jack be Little for a small garden – or for growing on a trellis – but do make sure that it is really secure because even the smallest pumpkins are rather heavy,’ he says.
How to grow a pumpkin vertically?
As an alternate small garden idea, Monty also suggests growing your pumpkins vertically – meaning pumpkins are accessible in patches of all sizes. To grow vertically, Monty suggests supporting them with a ‘tripod of stout posts, rather than horizontally’ – which is a method he has tried-and-tested in his own vegetable garden.
‘The support has to be really robust as the combination of masses of growth, and a few large pumpkins will bring a structure made of mere bamboo canes crashing down,’ Monty says in another article (opens in new tab).
Monty Don’s tips for growing pumpkin don’t end at growing vertically – as he also offers care tips that will ensure your crop is as beautiful – and tasty – as possible.
How to care for your pumpkin patch?
Firstly, he reinforces the importance of sunshine, adding that they need a large amount of light to ensure the skins ripen properly. ‘This is important if you wish to store your squash over winter as the thicker the skin, the longer they last,’ he says.
To accentuate its exposure to sunshine, Monty recommends removing all shrivelled foliage ‘so that the fruits have full access to the sun’ and laying your squash ‘on a flat roof or a tabletop outside in the sun – but also somewhere where you can cover them with fleece if it turns frosty.’
‘In a week or so, you should bring them all indoors and store them somewhere cool and dark,’ he adds.
There is perhaps no more appropriate time to experiment with Monty’s kitchen garden ideas than the month of the pumpkin – and everyone has room to grow a pumpkin thanks to his vertical growing tips.