Like most fruiting plants, pumpkins require pollination to help fruit set. Bees help with this, so it’s important to encourage them to your garden by planting a variety of flowering plants, including salvias and lavender.
Hand pollination can be used to help improve fruit set. To hand pollinate, pick male flowers (sitting above a fairly thin erect stem), remove petals and gently brush over the centre of the female flowers (flowers sitting above a tiny swollen base). Do this early in the morning as the short-lived flowers can close by mid-morning.
Poor fruit set can also be caused by heat and/or water stress, particularly when young. Ensure plants are well-watered, especially in hot and dry conditions.
After harvesting, if you don’t plan on using your pumpkin straight away, let it sit in the sun for about a week and then store in a cool, dry and dark place. This can keep for 10 months or longer (provided the skin is unbroken).
Don’t plant pumpkins in the same spot for up to two years – this includes other members of the cucurbit family (zucchini, cucumbers, melons and squash). This helps decrease the risk of soil borne diseases.