Halloween is many children’s favorite holiday. It’s a time for little ones to revel in such joys as dressing up as whoever they want to be and enjoying delicious candy! Another extremely fun part of Halloween is carving and decorating a pumpkin. That pumpkin allows kids to express themselves and create their own holiday centerpiece. Help kids get even more out of the time-honored jack-o’-lantern when you help them grow their own pumpkins! Here are some tips to help you get started on growing pretty pumpkins that will make Halloween even more fun for the entire family!
Planning for Pumpkins
Although growing pumpkins is fun and offers the promise of a great return for the time you put into it, it is a lot of work. Patience is a must. Pumpkins will need plenty of compost and mulch, and it takes between around 80 to 100 frost-free days to grow them. In order to get them ready in time for fall, plant them with your kids before June in the north and before July in the south.
Select Your Pumpkin Growing Site
When deciding where to grow your pumpkin, look for a location in your yard, garden, or field that has full exposure to the sun and plenty of space for the vines. (Think of Cinderella, and how the vines were used to form her whole coach! You may not see them on jack-o’-lanterns at stores, but pumpkins have sprawling vines when they are growing.)
Planting the Pumpkins
Get pumpkin seeds and prepare to plant them in well-drained, rich soil. The soil should be at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, with a preferred temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit since pumpkins do not do well with cold temperatures. Also mix compost into the soil before you sow the pumpkin seeds. Kids will enjoy this part. Getting into the mud with a parent’s approval can be oh-so-fun!
Plant the pumpkins seeds directly into the ground at the site where you planned to grow them. Try to plant the pumpkin seeds at least one inch deep. If you are growing multiple pumpkins together, be sure to space them in rows that are at least four feet apart. You can enlist the help of children by having them hold the measuring tape or reading the measurements.
Keep in mind that your pumpkin plants should germinate in a few days as long as you were careful to ensure that the soil temperature was suitable. Don’t expect to see them emerge for up to 10 days, but you may see signs in as few as five days.
Caring for the Pumpkins
Once you plant the pumpkin seeds, your work is not done yet. Pumpkins will need lots of water, so help your children water the pumpkin plants with one inch of water each week. Also add mulch around the pumpkins as needed, and watch out for weeds that can be controlled with the application of mulch.
Finally, keep in mind that it is work, but the focus should be on how fun it all can be, too. With a little hard work and commitment, you and your children can enjoy some bonding time while growing your own pumpkins in time for Halloween.