Pumpkins are enormous fruits to grow. They were usually grown in soil to provide enough space for them to thrive. However, there is little to no knowledge available on the possibility of growing pumpkins using hydroponics.
So, can we grow hydroponic pumpkins? Yes, pumpkins can be grown hydroponically. Although they will need more space during the growing cycle when compared to other known crops like leafy greens, it can be achieved using the right hydroponic system.
A lot of growers recently are leaning toward the grow-your-own-food movement. I have seen it with several crops like apples, oranges, and even hydroponic bananas.
Whether you want to grow hydroponic pumpkins for Halloween or you just want to know how hydroponically grown pumpkins taste like, this article will guide you through the methods used to grow pumpkins in a hydroponic system.
Choosing The Right Hydroponic System For Growing Pumpkins
There are two important facts about pumpkins that you will need to know. Pumpkins grow large roots and they consume an enormous amount of water. Any plant that has these two characteristics will not suit every hydroponic system out there.
Avoid using a nutrient film technique for growing pumpkins under any circumstances. I know that the NFT is one of the most popular hydroponic setups and is considered the go-to system for beginners.
Try using the NFT system for growing your hydroponic pumpkins and I promise you that within the first few months, your hydroponic system will be clogged up entirely.
Deep Water Culture Hydroponics For Growing Pumpkins
A DWC system provides one of the largest root spaces for any hydroponic plant. You can compare the root spaces available in both NFT and DWC systems, and I can assure you, the DWC system wins every single time.
There is a general rule of thumb known by any hydroponic grower, which is the bigger the nutrient solution reservoir, the larger the plant gets.
So, if you get a large DWC system with a large nutrient solution volume, you will have a much larger root space which will promote more root growth. A more developed root system will lead to an increase in the water and nutrients uptake.
A DWC will not only provide spacing for the roots but for the whole plant as well. As you know, pumpkins do get pretty large, and I think that this is the main goal that we are trying to achieve, so, we need to provide enough spacing for them.
Lucky for us, the DWC system does provide enough overall spacing for the pumpkins to thrive. The pumpkins could get as big as they get with us not worrying about any lack of space.
I tried to find a DWC system as large as possible to provide the roots with sufficient space to grow. The Emsco Group 2370 Hydropickers was one of the largest systems that crossed my eyes. It is a 24” X 20” reservoir that has the ability to grow as much as five plants per cycle. But I advise you to grow not more than 3 plants per cycle to provide enough root space for each pumpkin. You can find this DWC system on Amazon, check the price here.
Kratky Method For Growing Hydroponic Pumpkins
The Kratky method is a completely unique hydroponic system. Almost all hydroponic systems have 2 things in common.
The first one is the continuous topping up to the nutrient solution every day. The second one is that they require an air pump to be constantly running in their nutrient solution to provide oxygen for the roots. With the Kratky method, all of these are eliminated.
In a Pumpkin plant grown using the Kratky method, you are no longer required to run an air pump to oxygenate the nutrient solution nor you are committed to topping off the nutrient solution daily.
Instead, the nutrient solution will be consumed gradually, and as its height decrease, there will be more air available to provide oxygen for the roots. The development of what is called air roots will occur. Air roots do absorb oxygen from the surrounding air providing the entire root system with sufficient oxygen levels.
If you want to learn more about how wonderful the Kratky method is, I have written a previous article about it. I did spend two days researching how the Kratky method really works and I was mind blown, so go check it out here.
Growing your pumpkins in a Kratky system can be a better choice than choosing an NFT system
The Growing Conditions Of Hydroponic Pumpkins
The following are the optimum growing conditions needed to grow pumpkins. Maintaining these growing conditions is vital to make sure the pumpkins will grow as large as possible.
Any imbalance in these growing conditions will result in stunting the growth rate and final yield production of the plant. So, you have to make sure that you monitor them every day for any change.
Pollination Of Pumpkins
Unfortunately, pumpkins do not self pollinate; this means that in order to grow pumpkins with high quality, you will have to provide some hand to assist in the pollination process.
By choosing to grow your hydroponic pumpkins indoor, you are eliminating several natural pollination factors such as wind and bees from aiding in the pollination process. So, you will have to take the alternative approach and help in the pollination process yourself.
You can know the exact steps of how to pollinate any indoor hydroponic plant from this article that I wrote last month.
Best Temperature For Pumpkins
The optimum temperature for growing pumpkins is 65°F to 95°F. Whether you are growing these pumpkins indoors or outdoors. Maintaining this temperature range is super important.
Sometimes, temperature levels will drop especially when you are approaching Halloween on October 31. At this point, you have to move your hydroponic pumpkin indoors for better temperature control. Moreover, at this point, you must consider using artificial growing lights as the sunlight will no longer reach your pumpkin plant.
Light Requirements For Pumpkins
Pumpkins do require at least 8 hours of full light per day. Growing lights could help you a lot to boost the yield. Some states might not get a sufficient amount of sunlight per day. So, having LED grow lights can significantly boost the rate of growth and yield production
Of course, using grow lights will add up to your monthly electricity costs. But lucky for you, the increase in the electricity costs is not that big. You can check out this article where I wrote how much electricity does hydroponics use each month.
Nutrient Solution For Pumpkins
The pH of the nutrient solution must be kept around 6.0 to 6.8.
As I have mentioned before, pumpkins are heavy feeders; they need enormous amounts of water and nutrients to grow and thrive. So, you need to monitor the nutrient solution level every day and top it up whenever you can.
But make sure that the nutrient solution level is not high enough that it can result in root rot. I have written before about how to set up the water height in a DWC system, so check it out.