Talented Sydenham-based horticulturalist George Long, owner of landscape design company Well Grounded Gardens, shares his Halloween column:

Things That Grow Bump in the Night

Your creative skills will be put to the test this month while carving out pumpkins for Halloween lanterns, but have you ever thought of growing your own?

Why buy them from the supermarket when you can cultivate them in your own garden, which will be much more fun for all the family.

Here are a few tricks to ensure you grow some treats for next year.

Varieties to grow

Pumpkin Aladdin is a great variety for lanterns.

If you want something different, even though white pumpkin seeds are harder to come by in the UK, Pumpkin Lumina or Full Moon will give you a ghostly white pumpkin with orange flesh.

And if you’re feeling really ambitious try the huge Pumpkin Dills Atlantic Giant.

Sowing the seeds

The ideal time to sow pumpkin seeds is between April and June.

Soak the seeds overnight to speed up germination.

The easiest way is to grow the seeds is in 5cm pots on the windowsill.

When the roots are visible at the bottom of the pot, transplant the seedlings into the garden.

Pumpkins can take up room, so when you put them in the garden plant them approximately two metres apart, if you have the space.


Pin down long shoots in circles on the ground with bent wire.

Apply a top dressing of fertilizer or use tomato food.

Remove most of the fruits, leaving two or three so the plant can put its energy into growing a few good quality pumpkins.

Allow sunlight to reach the maturing fruit so they can ripen by removing leaves shadowing the pumpkins.

Harvesting and Storage

Leave the pumpkin on the plant as long as you can.

However, when the stem starts to crack they are ready for harvesting.

Cut the pumpkin off the plant, leaving as long a stem as possible.

Pumpkins should be left in the sun for 10 days to allow the skin to harden, but should be protected from any early frost.

If there isn’t enough sun or frost is present, leave them inside at a temperature of 27-32°C for four or five days.

Your pumpkins should now be ready for carving.

Happy Halloween!

Top tips for October


Plant the last of your shrubs, perennials and spring bedding plants.


Lift and store summer flowering bulbs, especially Dahlia.

Dig over empty borders (not when it’s raining as this can be detrimental for the soil).

Take hardwood cuttings.

Harvest the last of your fruit and vegetables for winter storage.

Last chance to trim coniferous hedges and repair/grow lawns.

Q & A

From next month I am introducing a Q & A section as I really want this column to be about Vibe readers.

Feel free to email any gardening questions to vibe@gardens.wellgroundedgroup.com and I will feature the best ones each month.

Feel free to contact Well Grounded Gardens directly for any advice or consultancy work.