Usually, in the southern and central regions, there is no particular need to grow pumpkin through seedlings. Its seeds germinate well when planted in open ground, grow well and give good yields. If you are a resident of a colder region or want to get a pumpkin crop ahead of the deadline declared by the producer (as a rule, this period is 120-140 days from sowing to harvesting), it is advisable to first grow pumpkin seedlings and plant it in open ground. Today we’ll talk about the proper cultivation of pumpkin seedlings.
The Right Choice of Pumpkin Seeds
First of all, you need to select the “right” seeds for sowing pumpkin seedlings. If you collect the seeds yourself, which most often happens, then you must be sure that you are growing a variety, not a hybrid. Among such seedlings, eventually, plants will grow that are radically different from those that grew on your site last year.
If you are sure that it is a variety that grows and not an F1 hybrid, then you can collect seeds and you need, as a rule, there are a lot of seeds inside the pumpkin and there is plenty to choose from. Try to choose whole seeds, without damage, without signs of rot, fully ripened. You can simply check them by slightly pressing a finger on the sides: the seeds that have been made (ripened) are not for sale, the seeds of the “dummy” are being sold, and you will feel that this is not a seed, but actually only a shell from it.
Further, after choosing healthy, whole, made seeds, and you can do this in advance, specify how many of these seeds you have already stored. Typically, the germination of pumpkin seeds lasts quite a long time, from six to eight years; in large retail chains, old seeds are usually discarded, but at home, you can forget about the “bag” with seeds, and since the years fly quickly, they will also quickly lose germination and seeds. To prevent this from happening, always write the date on the packaging with the seeds when you isolate them and put them in storage.
When buying seeds in a store, try to choose varieties of well-known manufacturers, they sell reliable and proven seeds, and on the packaging with their seeds, the date of packing them in a bag is always written or stamped with a seal, not a typographic drawing.
Preparation of Pumpkin Seeds for Sowing Seedlings
After you have selected the seeds, you need to sort them into fractions. Fractions can simply be made based on the size of the seeds – large, medium and small – purely by eye, and thus put them in piles.
Each seed fraction, regardless of their size, initially you need to “wake up”, for this, it is desirable to place the seeds in water (preferably thawed or rain), heated to 40-43 degrees above zero for about an hour. After this time, the seeds must be removed and, not rinsing with cold water, wrapped in a damp rag or gauze and placed in an ordinary room in a shaded place for a couple of days before the seeds hatch. All this time you need to monitor the humidity of the rag or gauze, keeping it slightly moist (periodically spraying with water). If a large number of seeds is planned for planting, then you should not put all of them in one large rag or gauze, but it is better to divide into several small, say, ten pieces.
By the way, gardeners note that when grown through seedlings, pumpkin is less sick and affected by pests, apparently, it better maintains immunity, without wasting it on the fight against adverse external environmental factors at the initial stage of growth when sown in open ground.
If you are a resident of a region where night frosts, the temperature drops, and return cold are frequent, then besides soaking the seeds and dividing them into fractions, it is worthwhile to harden the pumpkin seeds. Such a simple process will increase or strengthen the immunity of seedlings, increase the cold resistance of plants and slightly increase their resistance to pests and diseases.
In order to harden pumpkin seeds, it is necessary to carefully hatched seeds so as not to damage the sprouts, without removing them from a rag or gauze, simply unfold it and put the seeds directly on it on the lowest shelves of an ordinary household refrigerator and hold there for a day.
Also, to increase growth activity, seeds are often sprayed with Epin, Heteroauxin, or the like.
For the purpose of additional hardening, seeds that have already bent over are placed on the lower shelves of the domestic refrigerator for two days. As an additional top dressing, it is permissible to cover them in a wet rag with wood soot – a teaspoon for 25-30 seeds.