Do you enjoy pumpkin pie? Most of the delicious pumpkin pies that you eat are made with sugar pumpkins. As the name implies, sugar pumpkins are among the sweetest varieties of pumpkins.
Sugar pumpkins are easy to grow and if you want to enjoy more pumpkin pies, you should consider growing sugar pumpkins.
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Sugar Pumpkins: Useful Information, Cultivation, and Care Guides
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about sugar pumpkins. Get ready for the next growing season so that you will be harvesting your pumpkins like a pro.
What Are Sugar Pumpkins?
Sugar pumpkins are heirloom varieties of pumpkins used for pie making and other cuisines that require the delicious taste of pumpkins. Like other pumpkin varieties, sugar pumpkins are vines and have large ribbed fruits. A vine can produce 2-5 fruits according to the variety.
Most sugar pumpkin varieties can spread over 20 feet wide (or tall if you are growing them vertically). There are a few dwarf sugar pumpkin varieties, but the most popular varieties are:
- ‘Orange Smoothie’
- ‘Winter Luxury’
Let’s consider the nutritional value of sugar pumpkins.
Sugar Pumpkin Nutrition
Sugar pumpkins are delicious and rich in various nutrients. The table below shows the nutritional composition in a cup of sugar pumpkins:
As you can see, sugar pumpkins are not just delicious, they are nutritious for you. Here are reasons you should eat more sugar pumpkins:
- Rich in Antioxidants: The vitamins available in sugar pumpkins can help boost your immune system and also prevent rapid aging.
- Bone Health: The presence of calcium and phosphorus help with the health of your bones.
- Eye health: Eating sugar pumpkins can boost your body with Vitamin A which is very beneficial for your eyes.
- Great with a lot of Meals: Whether you are baking a pie, canning your pumpkins, or many a special cuisine, sugar pumpkins can give your meal an awesome taste.
- Good Treats: Sugar Pumpkin fruit and seeds and delicious and nutritious for adults and kids.
Just about everyone loves to eat sugar pumpkins. Since the demand for sugar pumpkins is ever-increasing, you should consider growing some for yourself if you have space and time.
How to Grow Sugar Pumpkins
Here are important tips you should follow when growing sugar pumpkins:
1. Get the Seeds or Seedlings
You can easily purchase sugar pumpkin seeds from a gardening shop or seedlings from a garden nursery. Should you start with seeds or seedlings? Consider the following:
- Buying Seeds: Buying seeds gives you a detailed guide containing the needs of the variety that you are buying. You can even start your seeds earlier indoors. Also, you get to enjoy the sight of germinating plants.
- Buying Seedlings: If you opt for sugar pumpkin seedlings, you are sure of a 100% germination rate as all your plants are already growing. Also, you get the chance of asking the expert gardener who germinated the seedlings for a lot of advice.
It is completely up to you to start your sugar pumpkins from seeds or seedlings. Remember that you can purchase them from garden shops and nurseries.
2. Prepare the Soil or Potting Mix
Like most garden crops, sugar pumpkins require well-drained soil. Sugar pumpkins are hardy and can withstand several soil conditions. For optimum growth, however, you should give them the best soil.
Sugar pumpkins will appreciate garden beds because beds are aerated and permit quick drainage of water. Make sure that the soil is slightly acidic (pH 6-6.8).
You can easily get good potting mixes for your sugar pumpkins from gardening shops if you want to grow them in containers. Note that you’ll need large containers to grow sugar pumpkins (unless you are growing dwarf varieties) as they need a lot of space and nutrients.
3. Plant/Transplant the Seeds or Seedlings
You should plant your sugar pumpkins in rows. There should be 4-6 inches of space between rows. Within rows, your plants should be spaced 2-2.5 inches apart from others. Spacing is very important for sugar pumpkins (reason to be discussed later).
Now that you have planted your sugar pumpkins, what are the needs of the plants? How do you care for the plants?
Caring for Sugar Pumpkins
Like every other plant, sugar pumpkins have their requirements. Let’s consider the following:
1. Water Requirements
During the growing season, you should always water your sugar pumpkins. Water your sugar pumpkins 1-2 times daily in spring and summer. Sugar pumpkins should be watered in the morning and evening.
Give them less water in the evening. During autumn, you don’t need to water your sugar pumpkins unless you are growing them in a greenhouse.
Remember that the soil should be well-drained. Clogged soil can cause several problems for your sugar pumpkins, so you want to prevent that.
Do sugar pumpkins need sugar in their water? No, they don’t need this additive. Your fruits will be sweet whether you enrich their water with sugar or not.
2. Light and Temperature Requirements
These plants need as much light as they can get. Give your sugar pumpkins at least 6 hours of direct sunlight so that they can spread out and grow healthily. To grow your sugar pumpkins under your lights, make sure that every leaf is receiving light for 12 or more hours daily.
To get green and healthy leaves, give your sugar pumpkins access to full sun.
Regarding temperature, sugar pumpkins require 60-90°f (15-32°c). Any higher or lower temperature range can reduce the growth rate of your plants or even halt the growth.
3. Nutrient Requirements
This pumpkin variety is a hungry feeder. They need a lot of nutrients. In the growing season, you should fertilize the crops during planting. Insert granular fertilizer 2-3 inches around the root of your sugar pumpkins. You can also use liquid fertilizer to quickly correct some nutrient deficiencies.
To help correct the nutrition of the soil, consider mixing the soil with soil amendment such as compost. Compost is perfect for sugar pumpkins.
Mulching is essential for sugar pumpkins. Some uses of mulching are:
- Weed Control: Mulch helps to prevent the growth of weeds that can compete with your sugar pumpkins for nutrients.
- Moisture Regulation: When you properly mulch the soil, you can prevent moisture from escaping from the soil by evaporation during the heat of summer.
- Slow-Release Fertilizer: Most organic mulch such as wood shavings can feed your plants with nutrients as they slowly break down.
Make sure that you mulch the soil of your sugar pumpkins.
5. Pest Control
Do you love sugar pumpkins? So do pests. Pests such as beetles, squirrels, rabbits, caterpillars, and aphids can wreak havoc on your sugar pumpkins. You should prevent pests from reaching your sugar pumpkins.
You can use a mesh to prevent large pests such as rabbits and squirrels from reaching your sugar pumpkins while you use pesticides for smaller pests such as insects.
How do you harvest your sugar pumpkins? Continue reading.
Harvesting Your Sugar Pumpkins
When is the right time to harvest your sugar pumpkins? According to the variety, you should see a region of the green fruit becoming orange or white. Cut the fruit off the vine and let it ripe indoors. If you like, however, you can leave it in the vine, but consider pests and frost.
It usually takes 80-118 days for your sugar pumpkins to be ready for harvest from the day you planted them.
More Tips to Growing Sugar Pumpkins
Here are even more tips for you to enjoy your sugar pumpkin growing season.
1. Plant Corn Between Pumpkin Rows
Since sugar pumpkins require a lot of space, it’ll be a waste if you can’t harness the extra space. You can plant sweet corn between sugar pumpkin rows. At the end of the growing season, you get to enjoy both pumpkins and corn.
2. Watering or Fertilizing the Leaves of Your Sugar Pumpkins
Foliar fertilizing is the technique of spraying liquid fertilizer on the leaves of your plants. If you notice dehydration or deficiency of nutrients in your sugar pumpkins, you should spray water or nutrients on the leaves of your plants.
Note that foliar fertilizing is best done with inorganic fertilizer as organic fertilizer can burn your plant.
3. Weeding Your Pumpkins
You should weed out unplanted vegetation from your garden especially when your pumpkins are young. Older pumpkins will prevent weeds from growing by blocking sunlight. This is usually possible when you don’t grow your pumpkins with trellises.
Related Questions and Answers
Need more information regarding sugar pumpkins? Here you go:
1. When Is the Best Time to Grow Sugar Pumpkins?
The best time is usually between March and April when the soil is no longer cold. You can, however, start your plants 2 weeks earlier indoors.
2. Why Should You Space Your Pumpkins?
Here are important reasons you should spread your sugar pumpkins:
- Disease: A diseased plant can easily transmit the disease to other plants that are close to it. Spreading your sugar pumpkins apart can reduce the spread of diseases.
- Nutrients: When sugar pumpkins are too close, they can compete for nutrients in the soil. Spreading them and providing enough nutrients can eliminate competition.
- Light: Remember that sugar Pumpkins need full sun and they spread very wide. To give them enough light, they should not be too close to other plants.
3. Do Sugar Pumpkins Need Trellises?
It is your choice to grow your pumpkins with a trellis or not. Consider the following:
- Leaf Health: When you don’t use trellises, the leaves of your sugar pumpkins will be on the soil. If your soil is healthy and free from harmful microbes, this isn’t a problem.
- Weeds: Crawling sugar pumpkins can cover the soil and prevent the growth of weeds.
- Appearance: Growing your sugar pumpkins using a trellis adds to the beauty of your garden.
It’s your personal preference of if you’ll use a trellis or not.
Sugar pumpkins are delicious and nutritious. Why not grow some yourself to test your gardening skills?