Growing Pumpkin in Tasmania
This warm season crop needs plenty of space, but grows vigorously with few problems. Plant pumpkins in a sunny spot with rich soil and they’ll reward you with an abundant harvest. Pumpkins come in a wide range of shapes, colours and sizes. Tasmania has a short warm- growing-season, so the miniature varieties are often a better choice. They take up less space and are ready to harvest sooner than the larger traditional pumpkins.
Make sure your pumpkins get enough sun and enough space to grow. Powdery mildew is usually a problem with pumpkins, so take care to keep the leaves as dry as possible when watering.
Pumpkins like a rich soil. Work in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure.
Sow indoors or under glass from September and straight into the garden once its consistently warm, usually around October.
Pumpkin seeds and plants are big, so remember to choose larger containers than you would for the small seeds. Keep the soil damp until your plants are up and established.
Pumpkins are best planted from seed, because they don’t like to have their roots disturbed, but in Tasmania, the growing season is so short that it’s usually a good idea to give them a head start by starting them indoors.
If you are planting directly into the garden or in a green house, then, sow your seeds into mounds about one meter apart. Once the plants are up and established, choose the strongest two plants and remove the rest.
Pumpkins don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so they’re best planted from seed, directly into the spot where they will grow. In Tasmania, it’s usually a good idea to give them a headstart on the season and start them indoors. Remember to take extra care with them so as not to disturb their roots when you plant them out. Add a small amount of bonemeal to each hole before planting to help the roots establish and grow strong to support a healthy plant. Keep the seedlings well-watered for the first few days while the plants are settling in.
Once your vines reach the desired length, pinch out the growing tips to prevent them from growing longer. This will encourage them to branch out. Once you have a good number of fruit on your vine, you can start to also pinch out any new side shoots. This will encourage the plant to put more energy into growing the fruit and less into expanding.
Pumpkins like moist soil. They’ll need extra watering during particularly warm or dry spells. It’s best to try not to get their leaves wet, as they are prone to fungal diseases. If you must wet the leaves, water them in the morning so that the leaves can dry off quickly during the warmth of the day.
Pumpkins are heavy feeders and benefit from regular feeding. Feed with a balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks through the growing season. A top dressing of compost or some worm tea are great options for a well-balanced feed. If the rains are particularly heavy, they may need feeding more often.
Mulching helps to keep the soil moist and cool. Apply a generous layer of organic mulch such as lucerne, sugarcane or peastraw. Since pumpkins are such heavy feeders, a compost mulch is also a good option.
Pumpkins can be harvested once their skins have hardened and thickened. Pick mature fruit as you need them. Use a sharp knife to cut them away from the vine. Be sure to leave a piece of stem attached to each pumpkin. If you want to store your pumpkins, only harvest them at the end of summer so that their skins can become hard and thick. Pumpkins need to be cured before storing, but remember to get them indoors before the first frosts!