A plant with a cheerful appearance, which crosses the garden all summer to delight us in September with its colorful and sweet fruits: this is the pumpkin, a beneficial vegetable that is preserved for a long time after harvest and allows us many different culinary uses .
Although demanding due to the space it requires, it is not a particularly delicate or difficult crop, as long as you give it the right attention all the time. Fertilization plays an important role and can be managed organically, thinking about it in time, i.e. before planting or at the latest in the immediately following periods.
The size of their pumpkins is often the pride of the grower, often also the subject of competitions and competitions for heavier or larger vegetables. Obviously the pumpkin varieties they develop huge fruits they particularly need nourishment, but in general, this generous plant is also demanding in terms of nutrients.
Basic fertilization for pumpkins
Fertilization has general aspects and others that depend on the nature of the soil, so it is always recommended, at least when starting a vegetable garden, to have a sample of soil analyzed to understand if it is balanced in its composition or if there are particular excesses or shortcomings. In this way it is possible to think about corrective interventions and specific contributions useful to one's soil. In addition to this, each species of vegetable has some particular needs to be taken into account, and in particular we discover here precisely the needs of pumpkin plants.
In the approach to the cultivation of organic farming, fertilization is a nourishment for the soil, not so much directly of cultivated plants. The fertile soil, in which care is taken to maintain and raise the level of organic matter, and therefore of microbial life, is a soil that offers the best growing conditions to most of the plants we are interested in cultivating. In soils rich in life, the roots grow luxuriant and healthy, and good organisms prevail which contain the proliferation of potentially harmful ones. Therefore before worrying about the vegetable we have thought of planting, let's think about the general health of the garden.
Consequently it is important to bring mature compost or manure every year, preferably in autumn, in doses of 3-4 kg for each square meter of cultivation, to be spread during clod breaking and surface raking operations.
We always remember that the soil improver must not be deeply buried with the spade: in this way it would be partially unused. This is because most of the root system of vegetables, including pumpkins, is found in more superficial layers, and below 30 cm deep there are not many aerobic organisms capable of mineralizing these substances and making them available for root absorption. QTherefore the best thing is to keep the organic matter in the first layers of soil, and this mineralizing yields the nutrients, which can then go down even further thanks to rain or irrigation water.
This plant fertilization is called basic fertilization, and it is useful for all horticultural crops, in the case of pumpkin it is particularly important, since we are talking about one of the most voracious vegetable plants in terms of nutrition.
The importance of crop rotations and green manure
Speaking of soil fertility, we cannot limit ourselves to explaining the actual fertilization, therefore the external contribution of substances. It is necessary to approach the design of the garden in order to alternate crops, following a rotation. The ideal is to remember what was grown the previous year on the plot or flowerbed in which we intend to plant the pumpkins, and if there were plants of the cucurbit family, it is preferable to focus on another parcel, because these have similar needs in terms of absorption of substances and root exploration of the soil.
It is always better to diversify, so as not to incur the phenomenon of "soil fatigue", that is, that decline in production that is generated by producing the same plants, or similar plants, on the same plot.
A very valid form of fertilization, which replaces or supports the use of compost or manure, is green manure with autumn sowing, with burial about a month before the pumpkins are transplanted. For this purpose, the ideal is to choose mixtures of legumes, grasses and brassicas.
What the pumpkin plant requires
The pumpkin plant requires the three macro elements in a balanced way, namely nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in addition to all the other elements such as magnesium, sulfur, calcium, manganese etc. Usually natural, organic or natural mineral fertilizers, together with the basic soil improver, as a whole contain them sufficiently to ensure the satisfaction of the plants' requests. Manure and compost, which are the two most commonly used materials to fertilize the organic garden, they are excellent examples of complete fertilizers, that is, which presents all the useful elements.
In addition to a good basic fertilization let's go and see what needs the pumpkin plant has in its growth stages, from sowing to harvesting, and how by cultivating we can intervene in a positive way.
Generally, pumpkins are sown in seedbeds in jars and then choose the most uniform, robust and healthy ones for transplanting into the garden. For sowing one uses a light soil especially for sowing and usually no fertilizer is added, also considering that the seedlings carry out only the first stages of their life in containers.
The initial push for the plant is already contained in the seed and you can therefore be satisfied with simple soil.
At the transplant
At the time of transplanting the soil must be in good soft conditions and well amended, but it is also useful to add manure in pellets (300-400 grams per square meter), natural potassium and magnesium sulfate, very useful elements for fruiting, e a few handfuls of rock flours to provide micronutrients.
Potassium and calcium can also be supplied through wood ash, which must be distributed in a thin veil on the ground or better still added previously to the compost pile.
However, gods can also be found organic pelleted fertilizers with a fairly high content of various elements including potassium, so these, while more expensive, are great for many vegetables including pumpkins.
The stages of growth
As the plants grow and the summer progresses, it will not be necessary to intervene with real fertilizers, but from time to time the irrigations can be performed with diluted macerates of plants such as nettle and comfrey and this is a very useful way to give the seedlings a natural but effective reinforcement.
Fertilization and water
The nutrients that the roots absorb are conveyed with the water, and for this reason it is correct to irrigate regularly, even if always avoiding excesses.
The ideal is to set up a dripline system along the row in which the seedlings are planted, so as to only wet the soil, not cause burns to the leaves and minimize the risk of fungal diseases.
Fertilization and mulching
There mulch of straw or other organic material, when decomposing, it releases nutritional elements and contributes to a good soil structure, as well as offering the pumpkins good protection from contact with the earth below, which, if wet, could damage them.
Straw, being rich in carbon, could determine the nitrogen reduction effect, for this reason it is excellent for the plant to spread good handfuls of pelleted manure.