Pumpkin farming in Kenya has been going on for a long time. It is a member of the squash family and in Kenya; it is among the first foods introduced to a toddler during or after breastfeeding. It is has a smooth thick skin and comes in different colors. There are green, yellow or orange pumpkins. In Kenya, pumpkins are grown as food. Pumpkins are grown in warm weather and require a lot of water. They contain vitamin C, vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, vitamin K, Phosphorous and manganese. They are rich in fiber and have few calories.
There are various varieties of pumpkin. There is Peanut whose skin in pink in color but has another peanut shell exterior. It is good for soups and baking. There is also Cinderella whose fruit is reddish orange and ribbed. It weighs around 26 to 35 pounds. Blue doll is almost square-shaped and is blue in color. It weighs around 20 to 30 pounds. Baby boo is cute and white in color.wee be little is a small tasty pumpkin which is round and grows to around one pound. Sweet sugar pie is good for baking and mashing. It grows from 5 to 7 pounds. Casper is a white colored pumpkin. Fairytale is unique and popular. It has a lobed shape has a deep tan color. Its flesh is fine and sweet. It weighs about 15 to 18 pounds. Jaradale is blue in color; it weighs about 6 – 10 pounds. It is used for mashing, baking and cooking. Harvest jack is very easy to grow. It has a high yielding variety and weighs about 25 to 30 pounds. Its dark orange in color and has long handles. Howden is big and bright orange in color. The fruit grows to about 20 to 30 pounds and the plant can produce 4 to 6 fruits.
While planting pumpkin, pick a sight where they crop will receive about 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Your soil also needs to be fertile and well drained. You could try and mix manure with your soil before planting and prepare hills in advance. The hills should be the hills should be about three feet and a foot high. Pumpkins are heavy feeders so you should prepare a trench of about half a foot for holding water around the roots.
If you want more than one hill, they should be 10 feet apart. Soak the seed over night before planting to make sprouting easy. Plant 4 to 5 seeds on the soil about one or two inches deep. The seeds should be about 15 to 19cm apart. It will take two weeks for them to germinate but before they germinate, you should water them gently. Once they sprout, thin out the weak and small seedlings to leave only the healthy ones.
Pumpkin plants can be attacked by diseases such as Powdery Mildew. This is a bacterium that white like powder. This disease thieves in humid, hot weather. It spreads quickly and can kill the plant. Avoid watering the plant during the evening or at night to prevent the formation of Powdery Mildew on the leaves of the plant. Powdery Mildew and other diseases survive in humid weather. Watering should be done in the morning. That way, the sun will dry the leaves and thus reduce the risk of diseases attacking the leaves of the plant.
Watering should also be concentrated on the roots and not the leaves. Bacterial wilt is also another disease that attacks the plant. It causes browning and wilting of the leaves. If you cut a leaf from the vine and a yellow sap drains out, then your plant has bacterial wilt. You should apply sprays to control diseases before they even appear on your crop. It your crop is already affected, apply immediately. Affected plants and leaves should be removed to prevent spreading of the disease.
The most common pests are mice, squirrels, moles and woodchucks. They burrow under the plants or gnaw the pumpkin. These pests can be controlled by using traps and poisons.
A pumpkin should not be harvested until the skin is hard and has reached its full color. Pumpkins can be stored for one to three months or more. For storage, you should clean the skin of the pumpkin with chlorinated water properly and store in a clean, dark and dry place. Avoid storing the pumpkin in hot places.