Queensland Blue Pumpkins grow to a medium to large sized pumpkin with blue-ish grey to a blue-green skin. The fruit has a sweet pleasant flavour and is just one of a number of different variety of pumpkins available. These pumpkins can weigh between 3 to 6kgs and generally have a flattened bottom and con-caved top.
The rind is firm and thick with deep ridges and when you cut open your Queensland Blue Pumpkin, you will find a beautiful bright orange firm flesh surrounding a central cavity filled with seeds and pulp.
Queensland Blue Pumpkins have a strong aroma, yet a sweet flesh perfect for using in baking, such as fresh pumpkin scones or pies, roasting to serve with dinner or making pumpkin mash with potatoes.
Growing Queensland Blue Pumpkins is exactly the same as growing other types of pumpkins. Pumpkin vines can be quite rampant so you will need a large space for your pumpkin patch. Choose a spot that receives full sun and has well-draining soil to allow your pumpkins to thrive all season long.
Pumpkin seeds should be planted in little mounds in your garden bed about 2 to 3 weeks after your last expected frost date. The mounds are designed to stop your vines from becoming waterlogged and help with drainage, allowing the soil to warm up faster in the sun to help encourage the growth of your pumpkins.
Create some mounds using a rake or whatever else is at hand, hollowing out the top a little bit as this is where you will be watering your vines. Plant your pumpkin seeds (3 or 4 seeds per mound) about 2cm deep, and water in well. If you begin planting too early, you will risk poor germination and your seedlings succumbing to frost.
Once your seeds have germinated, deep soak your pumpkins once a week with a hose on a steady trickle making sure to avoid wetting the leaves of your pumpkin as this will encourage mildew. Although your pumpkin’s leaves may look wilted during a hot summers’ day, the leaves should start to perk up again as the evening comes on. Use your own judgement but be mindful that pumpkins will rot or cause disease if they are kept overwatered.
The first couple of flowers that your pumpkin vines produce will be male flowers so don’t get too excited. As the vine grows, more flowers will start to emerge and you will see a difference in the flowers. Normally there should be enough pollinators around, but if you notice that the female flowers aren’t setting fruit, then you may need to step in, and hand pollinate them. We’ll talk about that process in a future post so be sure to check back often for that information.
As your pumpkins produce fruits you can remove some of your pumpkins to allow the ones remaining on each vine to grow larger.
Some gardeners like to turn their pumpkins so they are sitting on their bottoms rather than laying on their sides. Doing so does provide you with a better looking pumpkin but be careful not to stand on any of the vines as this will kill or limit the flow of nutrients to the ends of that arm.
A frequent problem people see when growing pumpkins is rotting on the vine. The main causes for this problem can be overwatering with the pumpkin sitting on wet ground, lack of air circulation and hot humid weather. To increase circulation around your pumpkin, carefully remove and trim any vines and foliage that may be touching your pumpkin.
To help prevent rotting you can place some mulch and a sheet of cardboard or a squash basket under your pumpkin to help improve airflow on the underside.
When I was a child – let’s say 40 years ago - we would just drop seeds in a burnt-out tree stump hole and the pumpkins would grow quite well by themselves. They would even come up where the vegetable scraps were thrown which just goes to show that these Queensland Blue Pumpkins don’t need a great deal of looking after
Most people are familiar with how to tell when an orange-coloured pumpkin is ripe and ready to harvest. For those that are unfamiliar are Queensland Blue Pumpkins this can be a bit tricky until you know what to look for. Remember lots of people think green pumpkins are ripe when they are actually just unripe orange ones. Once the vine starts to die off, this is when you should start to look for ripe pumpkins but you really need at least half the leaves to die off first
Ripe Queensland Blue Pumpkins have a bright rich colour that has become fairly even throughout and when they are ripe, the outer rind will take on a warty texture that is unmistakable.
If you are still unsure the “classing” trick to check the ripeness of pumpkins works in the case too. Knock on the side of the pumpkin and listen to the tell-tale hollow sound that bounces back at you.
To harvest pumpkins, use a set of sharp secateurs or a really sharp knife. As with any cutting in your garden, clean and sharp is vital for getting a good clean cut and not stressing your plants out or introducing new diseases to a plant that may still have fruits ripening.
After your pumpkin is ripe, carefully cut your pumpkin off the vine leaving a 3 to 4-inch “handle”. The handle is to stop the pumpkin from drying out and rotting, don’t use this handle for carrying the pumpkin in case it pulls out of the pumpkin, as this will let bacteria in and moisture out, ruining the pumpkin.
Carry your harvested pumpkin by the sides or with your hands under the pumpkin, this should stop bruising of the pumpkin and of course the last thing you want to do is drop your pumpkin on your foot or worse splitting and bruising the pumpkin.