“Pumpkins need a lot of water, however do not plant them in wet or dense soil."
By Jovia Nakawuki
Most pumpkin growers have their own methods and secrets of producing the types of pumpkins that win crop contests every year.
Daniel Katamba, who owns four acres of pumpkins in Mityana, says it is necessary to start with the right kind of pumpkin seed - one that is selectively bred to produce big pumpkins.
According to him, pumpkins strive with minimal sunlight and a farmer has to remember that pumpkins are sensitive and will need shelter from wind and the scorching sun.
It is important to protect pumpkins by covering them during heavy rains as well as on sunny days. You can put up a barrier to protect vines from heavy sunrays.
“Pumpkins need a lot of water. However, do not plant them in wet or dense soil. Pumpkins need well-drained soil. Fertilise the patch with four inches of cow dung to act as manure”, advises Katamba.
Pumpkins do best in soil that is slightly acidic or nearly neutral. Sow one seed for every four inches. Keep the pit watered, never let them dry out.
Ways of spacing them
Spacing of 10x10ft measurement from hill to hill is recommended. This gives a total of a 400 plant population on an acre.
Remember that there are 100 or more leaves to each vine. Each leaf is responsible for up to four grams of weight in your pumpkin.
Every leaf, every stem, every hair root is now receiving sunlight, absorbing water, and blending nutrients.
Since vines put out roots at every leaf, remove the roots of the vine where it is close to the pumpkin. This will give it free room to grow without damage to the vine.
Gently pull vines away from the pumpkin to prevent it from crushing them. Try giving them a nudge in the right direction every day.
When two or three fruits on each plant reach the size of softballs, remove all but the most promising one and start to prune the pumpkin plants.
After the primary vine has reached 20ft, break off the tips and the side shoots so the vine will not divert resources from the fruit. Break off all the other female flowers.
A potential prize winner is forming. The work of the plant now must go entirely toward nurturing this fruit alone.
It is important to remember that the only thing that will increase the size of the fruit comes out of the vines and the vines must get support from the natural root. To big pumpkins, the most important thing to remember is seeds, soil, sunshine and water.
How will I grow pumpkins?
Katamba says 400 seeds of pumpkin in a season will produce 6,000 pieces in population by each plant producing 15 pieces. In the market each pumpkin costs sh1, 500.
When calculating 1,500x 6,000 pumpkins seeds in an acre you will harvest sh9m.