How to grow a pumpkin patch
Pumpkins are very easy and rewarding to grow and will look after themselves in a sunny corner of the garden. The plants form long runners that will rapidly fill several square meters.

Dig some compost or well-rotted manure into the soil and form it up into a small mound (or several mounds if you have space) and plant several seeds a centimeter or two deep in each mound. Pumpkin growing is a particularly good project to do with your kids, as they can harvest seed from the kitchen and watch it grow right through its life cycle in the back garden. Once the plants are away there is very little to do apart from pollinating the flowers to ensure fruit set and harvesting them as they reach full size in the autumn.

To pollinate the flowers, you first have to know that pumpkins have male and female flowers on the same plant. Female flowers have small pumpkins behind the flower. Take a male flower and strip off the petals leaving just the centre stamen laden with pollen. Use this like a paintbrush to dust the pollen onto the central large yellow stigma in the female flower. Done!

Knowing the right time to harvest pumpkins is a matter of observation. An under ripe pumpkin will have green streaks on the stem and the flesh will be a bit green and sticky when you cut it open. So leave the pumpkin as long as possible until the green streaks fade and the stem turns dried looking and brown. If the ground is damp for long periods the underside of the pumpkin can begin to rot, to avoid this prop the pumpkin fruit onto a flat rock, brick or paver, being careful not to break the stem as you do. Once harvested, pumpkins can keep for a couple of months if needed, provided they are kept in a dry and airy place.