Pros: easy to plant and grow, great germination, transplanted well, lovely orange pumpkins
Cons: lots and lots of vines
Last year I decided to devote half the garden to growing pumpkins. This Racer Plus Jack O’ Lantern Hybrid is one of the varieties I grew.
First, this pumpkin variety sends out vines, so allot an appropriate amount of space for them to travel. These orange Jack O’ Lanterns are described as blocky, ribbed, with a thick stem and good color. They average two to three pumpkins per plant, with each pumpkin weighing between 14 to 18 pounds. The plants require 85 days to mature. They are resistant to powdery mildew. I bought a 30-seed packet.
I live in New England and always start my vegetable and flower seeds indoors to gain some time on the shorter growing season. Since I have good luck with squash and pumpkin seed germination, I planted one seed per plant pot. (I punch holes in the bottom of yogurt cups and fill them with a soil mix, which includes Perlite.) I keep the seed pots upstairs in the warmer, controlled air until the seeds just begin to germinate. Then I move the plants downstairs under lights where they grow until it is warm enough to transplant them outdoors.
To prepare the garden, I turned over the soil, added fertilizer where I knew the plants would go. I also covered much of the ground around the plants with a biodegradable weed suppressant material (something like a thick paper/cloth).
Once the weather was warmer, I hardened the plants off for several days before planting them into the vegetable garden. I placed the plants 20” apart. I grew two varieties of pumpkins: Sugar Pumpkins (to make pumpkin pies), and these Racer Plus Jack O’ Lanterns (for decoration). The two varieties of pumpkins did well in the half of the very large vegetable garden I allocated them. (My vegetable garden runs the length of the house and goes out 16-feet.)
To make sure cutworms didn’t munch the still tender pumpkin stems, I cut sturdy plastic cups in half and placed a “collar” around each plant. All the pumpkins survived to grow and vine … and these Racer Plus plants spread across the entire garden. They even jumped the garden border to run beneath the deck at the back of the house. Vines everywhere.
The plants did not average two to three pumpkins per plant as advertised. I would say that most of the plants produced one pumpkin. Just when I thought I had found all the pumpkins, I would locate another one tucked beneath the large leaves. I even found one beneath the deck. They were easy to pick, and the stems were thick and held up well.
Each pumpkin had a uniform round shape. I would say they were a medium-small size. These are not enormous Jack O’ Lanterns. I gave a few of them to the children of family and friends. The kids’ eyes lit up. The pumpkins made a nice armful for the little ones. My nephew is a quick thinker though with a “Thank you, Auntie Dawn! You carry it.”
I kept several of the pumpkins indoors as table decorations, and I left a few of them outside. Thankfully mischief-makers did not try to smash them. The pumpkins had great shape and a nice orange color. Some of them weren’t blemish-free, though … probably because I had them growing on the ground. I simply turned the imperfect ones good side toward the public for optimum viewing. The pumpkins had excellent longevity after picking, too. They lasted from when I picked them in mid-October until mid-December.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds sells a packet of 30 seeds for $3.45.
Considering I live in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season, I would call these Racer Plus Jack O’ Lanterns a success. It was fun sharing the harvest with friends and family. After the pumpkins lived their colorful lives, I relocated them to the compost bin.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy the day,
Please read my other reviews:
DuPont Garden O.N.E. – 100-percent Biodegradable Weed Control Fabric
Pumpkin: Small Sugar Pumpkin
Squash: Gadzukes Zucchini, Zucchini Italiano Largo, Zephyr Squash
Tomato: Matina Tomato, Early Goliath, Legend, Mortgage Lifter
Peppers: Ace Red & Green Peppers
Cucumber: Marketmore Cucumber, Spacemaster Cucumber, Sweeter Yet
Radish: Cherriette, French Breakfast
Other Plants: Canada Red Rhubarb, Egyptian Walking Onions, Jerusalem Artichokes
Copyright 2013 Dawn L. Stewart
This review is part of the New Year, New Leaf, New Category Writeoff