Pumpkin Growing in Uganda
Growing Pumpkins on a commercial scale is slowly becoming popular among farmers in many parts of Uganda. Traditionally, almost every household has one or two pumpkin plants in the backyard, mainly for domestic consumption. Pumpkins are grown across the country mainly for domestic use with the balance being sold for cash.
Varieties of Pumpkin
There are over seven varieties of pumpkins in Uganda. The common ones include:
- Sweet Cream
- Sugar Pie
Uses of the Pumpkin
- The young leaves make tasty vegetables when steamed.
- The fruit can be prepared in a number of ways as food or sauce or soup.
- Pumpkins can be processed into both fresh juice and wine.
- Pumpkin seeds are also said to be natural aphrodisiacs for both men and women and they promote prostrate health among men. They reduce digestion disorders and stomach acidity.
- Young pumpkins are effective in de-worming children and also help in fighting malnutrition
- They can serve as animal feeds.
- The seeds can be roasted like groundnuts and seasoned with Salt.
- The pumpkin flesh can also be processed into flour that can be used to make cakes and other confectionery products.
How to grow pumpkins
Pumpkins can be grown in almost any part of Uganda.
- Growing Pumpkins requires a space which receives direct sunlight for at least six hours daily in order for them to do well.
- A single trailing plant can grow as long as 30 feet, sending out many vine shoots all along the way.
- While Pumpkins usually keep low to the ground, they grow where other plants might never venture.
- The huge leaves of the pumpkin plant can serve as floating mulch that holds down weeds and keeps the soil moist.
- A farmer can sow four to five seeds and space them. One can soak the seeds for a night before planting and this will soften the outer shell and make sprouting easier and faster.
- When they are two months old, the plants are pruned of any excess leaves. In case they are attacked by pests, a mixture of red pepper, tobacco and animal urine can be applied. Animal urine is more potent if it is kept for a fortnight before use. Options for artificial pesticides include durbsban 4E, cooper fungicide, indofile m45 and UREA.
Harvesting starts 90 to 120 days about three to four months from the date of planting. The harvested Pumpkins can be stored for between eight to 36 weeks if they are not disposed of immediately.