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How to Grow Pumpkins on Your Fence

Pumpkin climbing the fence in front of the chook houseA fence is a fence is a fence. Except when it’s also a nursery. Trellising vegetables along a fence is a wonderful way to add verticality to any garden – not to mention a tasty selection of produce. Few vegetables are as enjoyable to grow as pumpkins; with the passing of each crisp autumn day, you can watch your pumpkins swell in size.

However, because pumpkins can be quite heavy, they require a little extra planning in order to be grown on fence materials. Portland fence owners can grow pumpkins on their chain link or cedar fence materials by following the tips listed below.

Pumpkin Varieties to Grow on Fence Materials

Portland’s rich soil can produce extremely large pumpkins that are heavy enough to pull down your whole fence! Therefore, it’s best to avoid the granddaddy pumpkin varieties and instead opt for munchkin “Jack Be Little” pumpkins. Sugar pumpkins will also do well along a fence – they are lighter than their jack-o-lantern cousins.

Pumpkin Planting Tips

Pumpkins require a long maturation period of 90-110 days, so many gardeners prefer to start pumpkins indoors about three weeks before the last frost. Otherwise, you can plant pumpkin seeds directly in the soil, in an area along your Portland fencing materials that gets full sun during the day. Most seed providers recommend growing pumpkins in mounds, with five seeds in each mound. (Later, you’ll thin the seedlings to two or three strong, well-spaced plants per mound.)

When thinking about where to plant your pumpkins, take a good look at your chain link or cedar fence materials. Your pumpkins will probably weigh 3-5 pounds, and each vine can produce up to a dozen. Therefore, you will need to choose strong fence materials, Portland pumpkin lovers. If your Portland fencing materials are looking rather haphazard, it’s best to grow your pumpkins in pots or along the ground instead.

Train Tendrils and Create Slings

As your pumpkin plants sprout and grow vines, you will need to train them to run along the fence materials. Portland residents with solid wood fences may choose to erect a strong trellis to support pumpkin vines. Chain link fences generally have plenty of places for pumpkin vines to grow.

As the pumpkins begin to grow in size, you’ll want to create slings to hold them in place along the chain link or cedar fence materials. To create slings, tie old rags or towels to the fence materials. (Portland has plenty of secondhand stores that sell clothing by the pound, so you should have no trouble finding an inexpensive selection of sling material.) The sling should fit snugly underneath the pumpkin so that the fence supports so that most of the fruit’s weight. If you don’t support the pumpkins in some way, their stems will break and they will not be able to mature fully.

Reduce Water Once Pumpkins Appear

Like tomatoes, pumpkins grow best with reduced water levels. This sends the plant the signal that it should put all of its energy into the fruit (i.e., its seeds) instead of growing more leaves.

Store and Enjoy!

Pumpkins may be stored in a cool, dry place for more than a year, assuming they are harvested correctly. Basically, you don’t want to cut the vine too close to the fruit. Instead, leave 4 or more inches of vine. Alternatively, you can let the vine wither around the fruit; this will make the pumpkin less susceptible to rot.

The variety of pumpkin recipes is incredible – from soups to pies to scones to casseroles, there is nearly no dish that can’t be enriched by these cucurbit family veggies. As the winter rains pound your Portland fencing materials, you can be cozy indoors, enjoying a warming pumpkin soup or pastry.

[ photo by: PermaCultured ]

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