A joyful-looking plant that crosses the garden all summer to delight us in September with its colorful and sweet fruits: it is the pumpkin, a beneficial vegetable that can be kept for a long time after harvest and allows us many culinary uses. different.
Although it is demanding for the space it requires, it is not a particularly delicate or difficult culture, provided it receives adequate attention at all times. Fertilization plays an important role and can be managed biologically thinking about it in time, that is to say before planting or at most in the immediately subsequent periods.
The size of his pumpkins is often the pride of the grower, often also the subject of contests and contests for the heaviest or largest vegetable. Obviously, the varieties of pumpkin that grow huge fruit particularly need nutrients, but in general this generous plant at harvest is also demanding in nutrients .
Fertilization has general aspects and others that depend on the nature of the soil, so it is always advisable, at least when starting a garden, to have a soil sample analyzed to see if it is balanced in its composition or if there are excesses or deficiencies. In this way, corrective actions and specific contributions useful for your soil can be thought out. In addition, each plant species has specific needs to take into account, and in particular we discover here precisely pumpkin needs .
In the organic farming approach, fertilization is a nutrient for the soil , not so directly for cultivated plants. A 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 for most of the plants that we are interested in. cultivate. In soils rich in life, roots grow lush and healthy, and good organisms prevail, containing the proliferation of potentially harmful ones. So Before we worry about which vegetable we’ve thought of planting, let’s think about the general health of the garden.
So it is important to add annually, preferably in autumn, fertilizer or mature manure in doses of 3-4 kg per square meter of crop to be spread during brush cutting and surface raking.
Let us always remember that the amendment must not be buried deeply with the shovel: it would thus remain partially unused. This is because most of the root system of vegetables, including pumpkins, is found in the shallower layers; moreover, below 30 cm depth, there are not many aerobic organisms capable of mineralizing these substances and making them available for radical absorption. Q it is therefore preferable to keep the organic matter in the first layers of the soil and this mineralization releases the nutrients, which can then fall even further through rainwater or irrigation.
This fertilization of plants is called bottom fertilization and it is useful for all horticultural crops, in the case of the pumpkin it is particularly important, as it is one of the most voracious garden plants in terms of nutrition.
The importance of crop rotation and green manures
When we speak of soil fertility, we cannot limit ourselves to explaining the fertilization itself, that is to say the external supply of substances. It is necessary to approach the design of the garden to alternate crops, following a rotation. The ideal is to remember what was grown the previous year in the plot or the bed where you intend to plant the pumpkins. and if there are plants of the Cucurbitaceae family, it is better to move to another plot, since they 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 come up against the phenomenon of “soil fatigue” that is, the decrease in production generated by the production of identical or similar plants on the same plot.
A very valid form of fertilization, which replaces or accompanies the use of fertilizer or manure, is green manure planted in the fall, with incorporation about a month before transplanting the pumpkins. To do this, the ideal is to choose mixtures of legumes, herbs and brassicas.
What the Pumpkin Plant Needs
the pumpkin plant you need all three macro elements in a balanced manner, namely nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), as well as all other elements such as magnesium, sulfur, calcium, manganese, etc. Natural fertilizers, organic or mineral, as well as the basic soil amendment, generally contain enough to ensure that the needs of the plants are met. manure and compost which are the two materials most used to fertilize organic gardens, are great examples of full credits that is, they contain all the useful elements.
In addition to good background fertilization, let’s see what needs does the pumpkin plant have in its growth phases from sowing to harvest, and how we can intervene in a positive way.
Pumpkins are usually planted in potted seedlings and then the most uniform, hardy and healthy ones are chosen for transplanting into the garden. For sowing, light soil is used. specially for planting and normally no manure is added, further considering that the seedlings carry out only the first stages of their life in the containers.
The initial growth of the plant is already contained in the seed and can therefore be satisfied with simple potting soil.
At the time of transplanting, the soil should be in good condition and well soaked. but it is also useful to add manure pellets (300-400 grams per square meter), natural potassium magnesium sulphate very useful elements for fruiting, and a few handfuls of rock flour provide micronutrients.
Potassium and calcium can also be added via wood ash. which is spread in a thin film on the ground or better yet added before composting.
However, you can also find granulated organic fertilizers with a fairly high content of various elements, including potassium so these, although more expensive, are great for many vegetables, including squash.
As the plants grow and the summer progresses, it will not be necessary to intervene with real fertilizers. but from time to time irrigation can be carried out with dilute macerations of plants such as nettle and nettle consolida and it is a very useful way to give seedlings a natural yet effective boost.
Food and water
With the water, the nutrients absorbed by the roots are transported it is therefore correct to water regularly, while always avoiding excesses.
Ideally, a drip wing system should be established along the row in which the seedlings are planted, so that only the soil is wetted, does not cause leaf scorch, and the risk of fungal disease is minimized. .
Feeding and stuffing
the straw mulch or other organic material As it breaks down, it provides nutrients and contributes to good soil structure, while providing pumpkins with good protection against contact with the soil below, which could damage them if it gets wet.
Straw, being rich in carbon, could determine the effect of nitrogen reduction which makes it excellent for spreading good handfuls of granulated manure on the plant.