Growing Butternut Pumpkin

Latest update 3rd August 2018.

Butternut Pumpkin. (Squash)
  • We love butternut pumpkin, its easy to grow, and is delicious in soups, roasted and even steamed with other veggies.
  • Grown organically its rich in vitamins, micro-nutrients and dietary fibre.
  • In an urban environment, where its sometimes hard to attract enough bees for pollination, you can hand pollinate them.  They carry both male and female flowers, but its best to grow 2 plants to increase the chance of both male and female flowers maturing at the same time.
  • They occupy a lot of space and I have been having problems finding the right spot for them.  This year I plan to try them in one of my small 900mm x 900mm x 600mm high Ecobeds .
  • Pumpkins will store for a few months, but are best used soon after harvest.   
Details.
  • Binomial Name:                                        Cucurbita Moschata.
  • Family:                                                    Cucrbitaceae.
  • Variety:                                                    Waltham.
  • Crop rotation group:                                  Legumes.
  • Garden bed type:                                      Small Ecobed.
  • Minimum sun per day:                              6 hours.
  • Plant spacing:                                          450mm
  • Weeks to harvest:                                    15 - 20 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                   Sweetcorn, citrus and sunflower.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere.
Nutrition. 
  • This food is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium.
  • It is also a good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
  • More from nutrition data.self.com.

Maintaining Ecobed Productivity.

  • Check out my blogpage which explains how I maintain productivity in my Ecobeds.  It describes how soil is prepared prior to planting, the importance of rainwater in Ecobeds, how to regulate the sun's intensity and how to feed plants through their leaves.
Propagating Seedlings.

  • Check out my blogpage which explains how I propagate seeds.
Propagation Plan.

  • Check out my blogpage which tells you when to sow seeds.
Growing Instructions.
  • In August, soak finely sieved compost in 6 cells in a seed tray.  After it has settled down a little, sow a single pumpkin seed in each cell.  Place the tray in an EcoPropagator.
  • Once the seeds germinate and become established, transplant the strongest 4 of them into the Mini Ecobed. 
  • Carefully remove the plugs of compost containing the seedlings so the plug is not disturbed.  Use a large dibber to make the planting holes and water the plants in.
  • Allow the growing plants to trail over the edges of the mini Ecobeds, but select a few vines to climb the supporting frame.
  • Control growth by snipping unwanted leaders and side shoots.  Aim to grow 4 or 5 mature pumpkins per plant.
Pollination.
  • Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers on the same plant.  They are dependent on bees to pollinate them, and will not set fruit if bees are not regular visitors to your garden.  Herbs and other plants flowering at the same time as your pumpkin and grown nearby will encourage bees to visit and pollinate your crop.
  • In warm climates you should grow Pumpkin as early as possible in the season because pollination is affected by high temperatures, and the balance of male to female flowers swings towards all male flowers when temperatures rise above 30 deg C.
  • To compensate for poor pollination by bees, you can hand pollinate your Pumpkin using the same method used for cucumbers see video.  Pollen is taken from the male flower using a small paintbrush and deposited on the stamen of the female flower. 
Harvesting and storage.
  • Harvest Pumpkins as they start to die back.  Their stalks should be dry when removing them from the vine with a short piece left on the pumpkin.  This helps protect it from disease in storage.
  • You can store the Pumpkin for months in this state in a cool dry place like your shed provided there is plenty of air circulating.
Organic Pest Control.
  • Butternut Pumpkins, like most vegetables, are vulnerable to attack from certain pests in my garden.  My blog "Controlling Garden Pests" explains a little about these pests and what to do to protect plants from them.  For details click on the appropriate link below.
  • Slugs and snails.
  • Greenhouse whitefly.
  • Caterpillars.
  • Powdery mildew.