Pumpkins have to be one of my most satisfying crops to grow.
You plant a small seed (in the scheme of things) and, all going well, end up with a crop of big round, meaty pumpkins.
And they’re reasonably easy plants to grow. Apart from nurturing your seedlings, then watering and feeding, the only other effort you need to make with your Pumpkin patch is some strategic pruning during the growing period.
A lot of people don’t both with this part of growing Pumpkins. They just plant their Pumpkin seeds, then leave the plants vines to wander happily all over the garden and hope for lots of big fat Pumpkins.
Which is fine, chances are they will definitely get a good few Pumpkins to enjoy in the process and it can be fun to see just how big your plant will grow.
But if you want to encourage a healthier plant, control your growing space, and guarantee yourself a good number of larger Pumpkins then it’s worth taking the time to prune your Pumpkin patch.
Pruning your Pumpkin patch allows you to focus your plants growth on a smaller number of fruit (yes, you read right, fruit – pumpkins are in fact a fruit, not a vegetable), it aerates the plant, helping to prevent disease, and stops your garden from being taken over by the many long training vines.
As your Pumpkin plant grows it sends off long trailing vines from the center of the plant. It will send out primary vines, secondary vines and tertiary vines.
The primary vines come directly off the main part of the plant, the secondary vines come off the primary vines and, as you’ve probably guessed, the tertiary vines come off the secondary vines.
Each vine can blossom a good number of flowers and then, if pollination is good, set a good number of Pumpkins. It might seem that more is better but, in fact, what you really want to do is limit the number of Pumpkins on each vine and as a result, on the plant as whole, so that the growth can be concentrated on those fewer Pumpkins, rather than diluted down over too many smaller Pumpkins.
As your Pumpkin plant grows, train the primary vines out away from the center of the plant. Then trail the secondary vines away from the primary vines, taking care not to cross them over each other so they don’t hamper the growth of the fruit.
Once your plant has blossomed and then set it’s fruit it’s time to take your secateurs and start pruning.
First of all, primary and secondary vines should be kept and trimmed to approximately 10 feet from the center of the plant and 10 feet from the primary vine respectively.
Then the tertiary vines (those running off the secondary vines) should be pruned away completely.
Finally, trim away any diseased or damaged vines from the plant.
Once you’ve finished trimming your Pumpkin patch it should be a lot smaller and tidier and you should have also reduced the number of Pumpkins your plant has to sustain.
These remaining Pumpkins will now get a chance to receive all the water, energy and food that the plant is taking in, and will grow bigger and better for it.
In fact, if you want to try your hand at growing even bigger Pumpkins you can prune your plant even further to leave just a few fruit on each vine and see just how big they can get.
And by all means, if you have plenty of space and are happy to provide a lot of water and nutrition, then you can leave your Pumpkin plant to ramble it’s way around your garden. You probably won’t get too many oversize prize winning Pumpkins but you’re still likely to end up with a good crop of smaller Pumpkins to eat your way through.