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Are you craving for pumpkins in Florida? Do you long to grow this smooth, delicious fruit in your own private garden? If your answer is yes, then you have definitely come to the right place. We are here to help you out with our complete guide to growing pumpkins in Florida.
If you are planting pumpkins in Florida, you can follow the same steps that you would use to grow them anywhere else, with the exception of the timing. In Florida, plant your pumpkins in late March and early April in Florida. While the larger pumpkins can take up to 4 months to grow, the smaller ones can be harvested in 120-150 days. If you plant your pumpkin seeds after late April and before July, you’ll get smaller fruits that will most likely be prone to viruses, and fungal diseases.
Learning how to grow pumpkins in your native state might seem like an intimidating task at first, but it is as easy as growing this fruit anywhere else. With the necessary space and the required care, this delicate crop can flourish.
Grow pumpkins in Florida with the following simple step-by-step procedure:
Growing a Pumpkin (Step by Step Procedure)
Here is a step by step procedure to the successful harvest of your delicious pumpkins:
Select the Planting Area
This step is one of the most crucial ones when you decide to plant your pumpkins. The fruitful results you desire can only be achieved with the appropriate amount of space and conditions. Select an area big enough for the vines to establish to their full potential, preferably about 50-100 sq ft per hill.
Full exposure to sunlight and rich soil is essential as well. Remember, the soil needs to be rich but not too damp. You can adjust the consistency of garden soil by using soil amendments like compost, leaf mold, or old manure. Select the site you think will work best for your pumpkins to grow and thrive.
Sow Your Seeds
Planting the pumpkin seeds directly in the ground works the best. You need to make sure about the temperatures of your soil before going ahead with the sowing. The perfect soil temperature is believed to be 95ºF. All you need to do is ensure that your soil’s temperature is at least 70ºF approximately. Usually, the warmer the soil, the faster the pumpkin growth is.
Prepare your soil with the amendments mentioned in the last step and plant about 4-5 seeds about one inch deep into the hills while keeping a distance of about four to 7 feet between each hill. If you are sowing your seeds in a row, sow the seeds about 6-12 inches apart and keep a space of about 6-19 feet between each row. If you’ve done everything right, you should see the vines appear in about a week.
Maintenance is the Key
Provide the necessary care to your plant. Use row covers to prevent the negative impacts of wind and insects. Make sure you remove them before flowering. Water your plants 1 inch a week and make sure you keep the moist away from leaves and fruit to avoid rotting and other infections. Lock the dampness by adding mulch and do not over-cultivate. Chop off unwanted vines without damaging without disturbing its roots to contribute positively to the quality level of the fruit. For the production of fruit, successful pollination is a must; try to attract more bees towards your plant. You can add a bee house in your garden to do so.
Pollination of Pumpkins
Pollination is a process that is essential for plants to produce fruits. You need extra bees near your them to boost this process. Although the female flowers appear about eight to nine weeks after the planting of the pumpkin seeds, the male blossoms are the ones to show up first. Female flowers appear about a week later from the male ones. To identify the females, you can simply see the swollen base just below their petals.
The male blossoms are responsible for producing the pollen to pollinate the female ones. At the time, female blossoms have an enlarged ovary that transforms into a fruit after successful pollination. You can also perform hand pollination by using a cotton ball to shift the pollen from the males to the females. After the female blossoms emerge, it takes about a week for the fruit to start taking form.
Harvesting the Fruit
There are a few things to check to see if your pumpkins are ready to harvest. Check if they have reached the perfect color and if the rind of the fruit is hard enough. Jab your fingernail in the pumpkin rind and see if it leaves an imprint. If it does not, then it’s time to harvest. You can also make sure of it by thumping on it and checking if you hear a hollow sound.
You’d want to cut and store them before the first frost when the temperature falls down. Cut the stem about 2 inches from the pumpkin and store it in a warm place for about 14 days to make it last a little longer. Remove it and then store it in a cool, dry place where the temperate is about 50-55ºF.
Preserving Your Pumpkins
Although you can preserve your pumpkins with the method mentioned above as well as freezing and canning, Florida’s climate is not suitable to preserve a carved pumpkin for a long period of time.
Freeing is the easiest method to store the fruit you worked so hard to grow. Start by washing your fruit thoroughly with water. Cut the pumpkin into moderate-sized pieces and cook them through whichever technique you find feasible. You can boil it, steam it, or even bake it. Cook the cut pieces until the pulp softens. Remove the softened pulp from the thick rind and mash it. Once it cools down, fill the mashed pulp in an air-tight jar leaving a little room and freeze.
For safety purposes, it is suggested that pumpkin only be canned cubed using pressure canning methods. On an average:
- Per canner load of 7 quarts: 16 pounds is required.
- Per canner load of 9 pints: 10 pounds is required.
That basically equals it to approximately 2.25 pounds per quart.
Still have pumpkins on your hands? Check out these 23 things you can do with pumpkins (hint: more than just cooking them or decorating them).
Pumpkin Varieties To Plan in Florida
Here are a few species of pumpkins that can be grown in Florida:
Big Max Pumpkins
The size of the Big Max can exceed 45kgs and 20inches in diameter. It is a large variety of squash and grows under ideal conditions. They are known as squash-type pumpkins. They usually come in bright orange color and their flesh is yellowish-orange in color.
Blue Moon Pumpkins
These pumpkins have come in a rich orange color. They have a somewhat rough ring. The size of Big Moon Pumpkins can be up to 115kgs. One to two fruits grow on a single vine.
Jack-O’-Lantern pumpkins aren’t as sweet as your sugar or pie pumpkins but they are surely edible. They grow up to 10-20 pounds and grow amazingly in full sun making it ideal to be grown in Florida. They have a bright orange exterior making them perfect for Halloween.
Spirit Pumpkins often come in an orange-gold color. They grow up to 10 to 12 pounds and 10-12 inches in diameter. Their flesh is suitable for pies and their shape is ideal for jack-o’-lanterns.
Howden pumpkins typically come in a bright orange color. The size of these pumpkins goes up to 20 to 30 pounds. About 4 to 5 pumpkin fruits are expected to appear for harvest from each plant.
Jackpot pumpkins are known to be the first true hybrid pumpkins. The fruit is smooth, glossy and comes in a medium orange color. The size of these pumpkins ranges from 20-30 pounds and 12-14 inches in diameter.
The size of mature Seminole pumpkins usually varies from 6-12 pounds. They come in various shapes and colors. For Florida’s humid climate, they are known to be good for storage for a few months.
Enjoying Your Pumpkins to the Fullest
There are multiple ways to enjoy pumpkins. It can be prepared in different ways to add to the deliciousness of salsas, purees, chutneys soups, and gravies. You can also use a pumpkin as a decoration piece for Octobers.
Although large pumpkins are not great to cook with, they are bred particularly for the reason of carving. If you think carving is not for you, you can use other crafting materials to add to its charm. Get creative by using different buttons, paints, or weird jewels on your pumpkin to bring out scary Halloween vibes.
The pumpkins that are used to make meals need to be sweet, flavorful and they should have a smooth-textured flesh. The pulp of smaller fruit like the sugar or pie pumpkin is ideal for cooking purposes. You can cook it or bake it according to your preference.
Now that you know all about growing pumpkins in Florida, go ahead and enjoy the fruity outcomes!
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