Native to North America, pumpkins have been a significant fall harvest crop for over 5,000 years. The thick walls of some pumpkins are wonderful for cooking and store well all winter. Pumpkins for carving are thinner walled so kids can decorate them easily.
These big plants need lots of food. Choose a sunny spot with fertile, well-draining soil. Dig in a generous quantity of finished compost and/or composted manure. Dig in 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer under each plant. All pumpkins grow male flowers first, then the female flowers are produced. The female flowers have tiny fruits at the base of the petals and require pollination by bees, mostly. Incomplete pollination is common at the beginning of the season, and results in small fruits that are misshapen at the flower end. Discard these damaged fruits before they rot.
Like other winter squash, pumpkins are mature when they have coloured up well and their stems are crisp. For the best sugar content, cut the stem about 4cm (2″) or so from the body of the fruit. If the weather is dry, allow the pumpkins to cure in the field for 10 days, or in a warm room for 4-5 days. Bring pumpkins in under cover before rain.