Gardening

How to plant pumpkin and strawberry

Pumpkin, strawberry, jerimum and mogango are popular names given to fruits of some species of the genus Cucurbita . These plants are quite similar to each other and their fruits vary widely in size and shape, making it not very easy to distinguish the species. The four cultivated species of pumpkin are:

Cucurbita maxima – a cultivated species originating in southern South America, it is the species that best supports low temperatures, preferring slightly milder conditions than other pumpkin species. It is the species that can present the largest and heaviest fruits, with cultivars that can produce pumpkins weighing hundreds of kilograms. In this species, the peduncle (the stem of the fruit) is rounded, with the consistency of soft cork when dry, and does not widen at the apex (part of the stem that connects to the fruit). Its leaves are more rounded, showing no lobes (cutouts), have no white spots at the intersections of the ribs, and may or may not have soft pimples (spines). The stems are rounded and smooth.

Cucurbita moschata – a species probably originating in Mexico and Central America, is the most cultivated species in tropical regions, as it prefers warmer and wetter growing conditions. It is the species most sensitive to low temperatures. In this species, the peduncle (the stem of the fruit) is angular and hard, widening at the apex (part of the stem that connects to the fruit). The leaves of well-developed plants have whitish spots at the intersections of the ribs, usually have smooth cutouts, with angular edges and are pubescent (have hairs). The stems are moderately angular.

Cucurbita pepo– another species originating in Mexico, may be the oldest of the domesticated pumpkin species and is the species that has the greatest morphological variation. It presents cultivars with fruits that are harvested ripe and cultivars with fruits that are harvested and consumed while still immature. The latter cultivars are popularly called zucchinis (see the article on zucchini). There are also several ornamental cultivars, whose fruits are not suitable for consumption. In this species, the peduncle is prominently angular and hard, widening slightly at the apex. Its leaves have a more coarse texture than those of other species, usually presenting many acúleos (spines), and can present whitish spots at the intersection of the veins. As for the border, the leaves may or may not have cutouts, which can be quite accentuated.

Cucurbita argyrosperma (formerly Cucurbita mixta ) – originally from southern Mexico, is far less cultivated in the world than the other three species above. Its characteristics are very similar to those of the C. moschata species , but the peduncle is not so angular, becoming more rounded when the fruit is ripe. The pulp of the fruit has a more coarse texture.

Climate

Pumpkins are plants that grow best in moderately warm weather, with average temperatures above 18 ° C and below 27 ° C being ideal. Plants can be damaged by temperatures below 10 ° C and cannot withstand frosts. The species C. maxima and C. pepo are more tolerant to temperatures lower than the species C. moschata and C. argyrosperma that support better high temperatures.

Brightness

Pumpkins and strawberries grow best in sunny locations, but can be grown in partial shade, as long as there is a high light.

Ground

Cultivate in well-drained, fertile soil, rich in organic matter and with good nitrogen availability. The ideal soil pH varies between 5.5 and 6.8.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. Adult plants can be resistant to short periods of drought.

The pumpkin tree usually grows a lot, so a stick can be planted vertically in the place where the seeds are sown to mark the center of the future plant, allowing to direct irrigation and avoid wasting water.

Planting

Sow the pumpkin or strawberry seeds in the final location, making pits 45 cm deep and 60 cm in diameter for cultivars whose plants are large, and 30 cm deep and 50 cm in diameter for smaller cultivars. The soil removed from each pit must be fertilized with well-cured manure, earthworm humus or organic compost. After closing the pit with the soil already fertilized, irrigate and place 2 or 3 seeds in a small hole about 2 cm deep.

The seeds can also be sown in small pots, plastic bags or cups 10 cm high and 5 cm in diameter made with newsprint. The transplant of the pumpkin seedlings to the final location can be done when the seedlings have three real leaves.

Cultivation

At the beginning of cultivation, remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.

Like other cucurbits, the pumpkins are monoeceae, that is, they present male flowers and female flowers, although each plant produces both types of flowers. Male flowers produce pollen and do not form fruit. Female flowers have a lower ovary that resembles a tiny pumpkin and it grows on the fruit when the flower is pollinated.

The presence of pollinating insects, mainly bees, is necessary for the pollination of flowers and the formation of fruits. If there are no bees and there is no fruit formation, pollinate the flowers manually with the help of a small brush with soft bristles, transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers. Another alternative is to pick some male flowers and lightly rub the pollen-laden anthers of these flowers on the stigma of female flowers.

When flowering begins, only male flowers appear. The female flowers begin to appear well afterwards (from two weeks to a month or more). High temperatures and long days increase the proportion of male flowers, which are always more numerous than female flowers. The flowers open only for a few hours in the early morning.

Some hybrid pumpkin cultivars may produce few male flowers and no pollen, so other pumpkin cultivars of the same species must be grown in the same location for hybrid pollination to be possible (ask the hybrid seed supplier about which cultivars are suitable for pollination).

Harvest

Harvesting of pumpkin or pumpkin can start 85 to 150 days after planting, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Pick the pumpkin when the stem of the fruit turns yellow or brown, and may even crack in some cultivars. If the pumpkin is not consumed soon, harvest the fruit as long as possible. Stemless fruits can spoil faster and are less valued when used for decoration purposes.

The leaves and flowers can also be used as food, and the seeds of some cultivars are used as an appetizer, after toast and salty.

Oil can be obtained from the seeds, and there are cultivars specially adapted for this purpose.

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