What To Put Under Pumpkins To Protect Them?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 05/06/22 •  5 min read

What To Put Under Pumpkins To Protect Them? Pumpkins are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the garden and you can create masses of fruit which you can eat year-round. However, one of the most common questions that is asked is what to put under the pumpkins to keep them off the ground and is this even necessary?

Pumpkins that are grown on the ground can be protected by placing a thick layer of cardboard underneath the fruit which will prevent contact with the soil. This is usually only necessary if the ground around where the pumpkins are being grown is extremely wet which can lead to rotting, however, in most cases this is usually not a problem.

Other alternative materials that can be used to create a dry layer below the pumpkins are things like dry straw or pea mulch which can also help with drainage. Irrespective of what you use if there is a huge downpour then you need to replace the material to ensure that it remains relatively dry and does not become sodden like the rest of the surrounding area.

The other way to keep the pumpkins off the ground is to grow them on a trellis which will also save space in your garden and maximize your production as a whole. However, in some cases, if the pumpkin variety produces extremely large fruit it may be necessary to provide additional support to the pumpkins to ensure that they do not tear away from the vine. This can be done by placing a sling underneath the pumpkin and tying it to the support structure. 

Is It Normal For The Bottom Of The Pumpkin To Be White?

When the pumpkin is developing you will often notice that the area at the bottom is either white or extremely pale compared to the rest of the pumpkin in many cases which is normal. The reason this happens is that this area of the fruit is not exposed to direct sunlight and therefore becomes blanched.

This is generally not a concern as even though that part of the fruit is not getting a great deal of sunlight it will still progressively get a little bit of colour which is often an indication that the fruit itself is approaching the point at which it is ripe. However, that should not be used as the only indication that the pumpkin is close to being ripe.

How Can You Tell That The Pumpkin Is Ready To Harvest?

For a beginner gardener telling when your pumpkin is ready to harvest can be a little bit challenging as pumpkins can vary in colour quite significantly depending upon the nature of the particular variety.  However, there are a few things that can give you an indication that the pumpkin is ready to be picked.

The first and most obvious indication is when the pumpkin changes colour from being green to whatever its final colour is. The second indication is that if you tap on the side of the pumpkin you will begin to get a bit of a hollow sound. However, I find that the easiest way to make 100% sure that the pumpkin is finished growing is to look at the vine that it is growing on.

If the vine has completely died back that is an indication that the Pumpkin has completely finished its growth cycle and will definitely be ripe and ready to harvest and eat immediately.

How To Store Pumpkins

The size of the harvest that you will produce from pumpkin plants will generally be quite large. I personally produce around about 160 to 200 pounds of pumpkin most years which is more than I can possibly eat in the short term which means that you need to store the pumpkins.

The single most important thing to do to ensure that your pumpkins do last is to remove the fruit from the plants leaving approximately 2 to 3 inches of stem still attached to the fruit. This is absolutely vital because it will protect the fruit from being invaded by bacteria which will destroy it relatively quickly.

The pumpkins are quite resistant to attack from bacteria because of their relatively thick skin however the one entry point that is relatively easy for bacteria to get in is the point at which the stem goes into the fruit. However, from time to time the removal of the stem will happen by accident and you’ll have a few pumpkins that will deteriorate quicker than the rest of the crop.

This is not the end of the world because you can simply eat these Pumpkins first because while they are more susceptible to bacterial infection they will not go off immediately.

In terms of storing the pumpkins themselves the best possible way to store them is in a cool dark location that gets very limited light but does not freeze. In these conditions, pumpkins will last the full 12 months of the year until your next crop comes in. However, if you do not have an area like this, which I personally do not, you can simply leave them undercover somewhere around the house and they will still last for months and months and months.

I personally put them on my back deck in a position that is undercover and they do last for many months. However, the one thing I do recommend is that you store them on their side just in case they get wet and water starts to pull around the stem as this can lead to rotting.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing your pumpkins at home, if you have any additional questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart