Pumpkin Jack O'Lantern is a great all rounder, because as its name suggests, it is great for making traditional Halloween lanterns but it is also great for cooking.
The orange - yellow sweet flavoured flesh is great roasted or baked or made into soups and pies. The fruit weigh between 4-7kg each and the rind is ribbed and bright orange with a thick flesh allowing easy carving.
|When to Sow||April to Mid May indoors, late May to June outdoors|
|Where to Sow||All pumpkins need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Work at least 3 inches (more for larger pumpkin types) of compost or other organic matter into soil prior to planting. Create a raised bed or planting mound if soil tends to be heavy and poorly draining. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.8.|
|If sowing indoors fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with compost, firm down and sow 1 seed per pot 2cm (3/4 in) deep. When sowing place the seed on its side ( to help prevent dampening off). Keep soil moist at all times but do not over water.|
|If sowing outdoors, sow direct into final growing position, either in a seed bed or in a large pot or container, ensuring that each plant is 1m, in each direction, from its nearest neighbour. Again sow seeds on their sides 2cm (3/4 in) deep, placing 2 seeds at each station, which will be thinned out later ensuring that the strongest seedling survives. If there is still a risk of frost in your area cover seed with a cloche. Keep soil moist at all times but do not over water.|
|What to do Next||For seeds which have been sown indoors or in a greenhouse, once the seedling has its first pair of leaves and a third leaf is just appearing transplant into a larger pot. Harden them of for 7 to 10 days before planting them outside in their final growing position, 1m apart in each direction, once the risk of frost has passed.|
|For seeds which were planted outside , thin seedlings to one plant per station.|
|Protect succulent young growth from slugs and snails.|
|Continue to water regularly, particularly once the plants are in flower and then when the fruits have started to swell.|
|Cushion the growing fruit from sitting directly on the soil by either placing an old tile or flat stone underneath the fruit or by encouraging the trailing stems to form a sling underneath the fruit.|
|Harvest||September to October, 4 months from sowing|
|Handy Tips||For earlier yields and larger fruits the plants should be stopped once there are 2 to 3 fruits per plant. This is done by pinching out the growing tip and removing any additional fruit, so that the energy is targeted on growing the fruits rather than the plant itself.|
|Remove any leaves which are putting the fruits in shade as this will ensure the fruits receive the maximum sunshine hours to ripen.|
|Harvest the pumpkin when mature by cutting the stem with a sharp knife before the first frosts arrive. Allow a long stem 8cm (3in) to be left on the fruit. This will reduce the risk of rotting and can be used as a handle for transportation to avoid bruising the fruit.|
|To cure the fruit (harden the skin) leave in the sun for about 10 days, if there is a chance of frost bring indoors and leave on a sunny windowsill. Once cured your pumpkins should last for up to 2 months as long as it is stored in a cool and dry environment.|
|Companion Planting||Calendula (Pot Marigold), Nasturtiums, Radishes, Garlic, Beans and Peas,|
|Nutritional Information||A good source of vitamins A, C and E.|
|Serving Suggestion||Pumpkins are very versatile for cooking as they can be baked, roasted, boiled, casseroled or stir fried. They make lovely creamy soups and pies, or are delicious roasted and served with spinach and ricotta in a lasagne.|
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