How to Grow Pumpkins

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Curcurbita spp.

Talk about a triple threat: Toasted pumpkin seeds are a tasty toasted snack, the flesh makes for great pies and the rinds offer a canvas for Halloween artwork. Smaller varieties are now available, so carve out some space and let 'em grow.

If you grow pumpkins for cooking or baking, here's a rule of thumb: 1 pound of pumpkin flesh equals about 1 cup of cooked pumpkin.

Hardiness: Annual.

Planting advice: Plant four or five seeds 1 inch deep in an 18-inch-high mound of soil. Keep hills 5 feet apart for vining pumpkins and 3 to 4 feet for semi-vining types. After the seeds sprout, thin to the healthiest two or three seedlings.

Harvest tips: Ready to harvest in 100 to 110 days. Pick when they're a deep, solid orange color (for most varieties) and the rind is hard, usually late September or early October. Leave a 3- to 4-inch stem, which helps the fruit keep longer.

Recommendations: New England Pie (cooking), Sweetie Pie (small medium-orange fruit), Connecticut Field (large carving), Mammoth Gold (jumbo carving).

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Source: Birds & Blooms "Grow Veggies for Less"