There seems to be a lot of questions arising from problems with Squashes and Pumpkins this season. The Cucubit family which includes Squashes, Pumpkins, Melons, Cucumbers and Courgettes seem to be causing many folks trouble. Many have told of poor germination or not germinating at all. This sowing season has been cold and wet. Even indoors the nights and some days have been much cooler and damper than usual, this is often the cause of poor germination. Cucubits in particular hate been cold and wet. They originate mainly from South and Central America, this tells you they like it warm. They do like lots of water when it’s warm and they are growing strongly in the garden, but not as seedlings, wet will kill them. Cool damp conditions cause seeds to rot before germinating and seedlings to rot at the base at soil level.
Sowing: Sow all the cucbits on their side, not flat. This helps moisture run off the seed, not lie on it. Use a good seed compost, you can add perlite for even better drainage. Dont plant too deep, even the large pumpkin seeds are fine with a one centimetre covering of compost. Place somewhere warm, a windowsill is fine, but remember if nights are cold or frost is forcast, bring them inside the curtains not against the cold glass. Water only when they need it. Keep them just moist, I like to keep them on the dry side of moist. If you have the pots in a gravel tray or similar, pour excess water away after about half an hour. Dont let the pots sit in a wet tray.
There is still time to sow any of the cucubits. You can sow inside now or outside in early June, depending on weather and location. Just remember, they hate cold and wet, even when they are large plants they dont do well in a poor summer. Courgettes probably do best in our cool summers. I always grow melons and cucumbers indoors. I have only grown the small varieties of pumpkin, but as I have more room this year, I’m giving the big ones a go.