Perfect Pumpkins

It's time to plant pumpkin seeds if you want to grow your own spooky jack o'lanterns in time for Hal

It's time to plant pumpkin seeds if you want to grow your own spooky jack o'lanterns in time for Halloween - Credit: PA Photo/thinkstockphoto

As in most ventures, good preparation and timing are everything. Ensure your fright night is a glowing success by following these practical tips.

With Halloween a few months away, there’s still time to plant pumpkin seeds in preparation for harvesting by October 31.

Growing your own is a big trend in the UK and to get you even more inspired, Homebase seed buyer David Gillespie has offered seven top tips to make sure you have a plump pumpkin to carve this year.

Pick a sunny, spacious spot

Choose a suitable location with lots of space and direct sunlight. If you’re short on space then not to worry; you can grow pumpkins in a 40-litre bucket.

Sow seeds in warm soil

Prepare your patch, ensuring you have rich, well-drained soil, and mix in lots of compost. Pumpkin seeds are sensitive to the cold, so make sure the soil is as close to 30C as possible before planting. To help the soil warm quickly in the sun, create a small mound a few inches in height and plant three to five pumpkin seeds around the sides of it. Seeds are better sown on their side, direct into the compost.

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Train the plants to grow up trellis

Once the pumpkins germinate and grow to about two or three inches tall, you can train them to grow in the direction you want. If you don’t have a lot of space, train your vines to grow up a trellis.

Keep them moist

Water your pumpkins regularly; they need about an inch of water per week and this will need to increase during flowering season. Just make sure you avoid getting the fruit and flowers too wet, or it will increase the chance of rot. Pumpkins love food, so feed them regularly with a water/compost mixture, or use manure if it’s available.

At later stages, prune unruly vines

Pinch off the fuzzy ends of each vine after a few pumpkins have formed to stop the vines growing. You should also prune unruly vines to preserve the energy for fruit growth. As the fruit develops, they should be turned - make sure the vines aren’t damaged when doing this - to encourage an even shape.

Get your timing right

Most pumpkin varieties take 85 to 125 days to mature. So time your sowing to ensure your pumpkin is ready for your Halloween celebrations.

Harvest in time for Halloween

Finally, harvest your pumpkin just before Halloween and carve it into a suitably scary face.

So there you have it! Grow your own spooktacular pumpkins in time for Halloween with the seeds Grow My Own - Pumpkin Halloween Heads available from Homebase.