The Joy of Homegrown Pie Pumpkins
Growing your pie pumpkins can be a rewarding experience, providing you with a delicious, homegrown ingredient for all of your autumn recipes. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about planting, growing, harvesting, and storing pie pumpkins to ensure a successful harvest.
|Days to Grow||90-100 days|
|Square Foot Garden Spacing||2-4 square feet per plant|
|When to Plant||3-4 weeks after last frost date|
|Yield||1-5 pumpkins per plant|
|Frost Tolerance||Tender (damaged by frost)|
|Hours of Light Needed||Minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight|
|Soil Conditions||Well-draining, fertile, pH 6.0-6.5|
Section 1: Selecting the Right Pie Pumpkin Variety
When selecting the best pie pumpkin variety for your garden, consider factors such as size, flavour, and ease of growing. Some popular pie pumpkin varieties include:
- Sugar Pie: A small, sweet pumpkin ideal for pies and baking
- Baby Pam: Known for its smooth texture and excellent flavour
- Autumn Gold: Offers early maturity and a vibrant golden-orange colour
- Cinderella: A French heirloom with deep orange, flavorful flesh
Section 2: Planting Pie Pumpkins
To ensure a bountiful harvest, follow these steps for planting pie pumpkins:
- Choose the right time: Plant your pumpkin seeds after the last frost when the soil temperature is at least 65°F (18°C). This is typically in late spring or early summer.
- Select the ideal location: Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Pumpkins need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
- Prepare the soil: Enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted manure. This will help improve drainage and provide essential nutrients.
- Plant the seeds: Sow seeds about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep, spacing them 3-5 feet (0.9-1.5 meters) apart. Plant seeds in groups of 2-3 to ensure proper pollination.
- Water consistently: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy, throughout the growing season. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to disease.
Section 3: Caring for Your Pie Pumpkins
To promote healthy growth and a successful harvest, follow these pumpkin care tips:
- Fertilize regularly: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season.
- Mulch: Use organic mulch, such as straw or leaves, to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Control pests and diseases: Regularly inspect your pumpkins for signs of pests or diseases. Use organic or chemical controls as needed.
- Prune as necessary: Remove any dead or diseased leaves and vines. Prune pumpkin vines to improve air circulation and prevent overcrowding.
Section 4: Harvesting Your Pie Pumpkins
Follow these steps to harvest your pie pumpkins at the perfect time:
- Check for ripeness: A ripe pie pumpkin will have a deep, even colour, a hard shell, and a dull thump when tapped.
- Watch the vine: Harvest your pumpkins when the vine begins to wither, and the stem turns brown.
- Cut, don’t pull: Use a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears to cut the stem about 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm) above the pumpkin.
- Cure the pumpkins: Allow your pumpkins to cure in a warm, well-ventilated area for 7-10 days. This helps harden the shell and enhance the flavour.
Section 5: Storing Your Pie Pumpkins
Proper storage ensures that your pie pumpkins will last throughout the winter months:
Choose a cool, dark location: Store your pumpkins in a cool, dark area with a temperature between 50-55°F (10-13°C) and relative humidity around 50-70%.
- Provide proper ventilation: Ensure your pumpkins have adequate airflow to prevent moisture buildup and mold growth. Store them on a wire rack or shelf to allow for air circulation.
- Keep pumpkins separate: Avoid stacking pumpkins on top of each other, as this can cause bruising and promote rot. Instead, store them with a few inches of space between each pumpkin.
- Inspect regularly: Check your stored pumpkins regularly for signs of decay or mold. Remove any affected pumpkins immediately to prevent the spread of disease.
- Rotate your stock: Use your oldest pumpkins first and rotate your stock to ensure freshness and prevent waste.
Section 6: Utilizing Your Homegrown Pie Pumpkins
Once you have successfully harvested and stored your pumpkins, there are countless ways to enjoy them in your favourite autumn dishes:
- Pumpkin pie: The classic dessert, made even better with your homegrown pie pumpkins. Roast, puree, and sweeten the pumpkin flesh for a delicious filling.
- Pumpkin soup: Combine your pumpkin puree with broth, cream, and your favourite seasonings for a hearty, warming soup.
- Pumpkin bread: Fold your pumpkin puree into a quick bread batter for a moist, flavorful treat.
- Pumpkin seeds: Remember to save the seeds! Roast them with a bit of oil and your choice of seasonings for a tasty, nutritious snack.
Conclusion: Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor
By following this comprehensive guide on planting, growing, harvesting, and storing pie pumpkins, you can enjoy the delicious taste of homegrown pumpkins in all your favourite autumn recipes. The satisfaction of a successful harvest, combined with the rich, complex flavours of your pie pumpkins, makes an effort well worth it.
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
Individual seed and plant information is available in the "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.