How to Grow Pumpkins
There's something special about pumpkins. Everybody loves pumpkins. People
are fascinated by them. It is the only fruit or vegetable that people play
with, and we do so in a big way. And, every gardener loves to grow pumpkins.
Many people do not believe they have the space. But read on. You will be
pleasantly surprised, to discover that you can plant a few seeds and
be growing pumpkins in very small and unique places.
Did you Know? A pumpkin becomes a Jack O' Lantern, when it is carved.
Varieties of Pumpkins:
There are literally hundreds of varieties of pumpkins, from the small miniatures
which only weigh a couple of ounces, to the giant varieties that routinely
show up at fall weighoffs at over 2,000 pounds and more!
the world record giant pumpkin
Pumpkins belong to the "Cucurbita" family. There are a wide range of varieties
falling into these categories:
Cucurbita Moschata-- This group of primarily squash includes the pumpkins
frequently used for commercially canned pumpkins. Commercial pumpkin varieties
usually have a tan-colored skin.
Cucurbita Pepo- These are the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins you carve on
Halloween, as well as the cute little miniature pumpkins that fit in the
palm of your hand. Some of the most popular varieties include:
Cucurbita Maxima- Maxima, as it's name implies, are the giant pumpkins.
Giant pumpkin growing has become a very popular hobby. Giant pumpkin growers
are among the most devoted, and perhaps fanatical of gardeners. Popular giant
pumpkin varieties include:
More on Varieties of Pumpkins
Days to Maturity:
Days to maturity varies widely, depending upon variety. Plan 90-100 days
for miniature pumpkins, 100-120 days for Jack O'Lanterns and 130-160 days
for giant pumpkins.
How to Grow Pumpkins:
Pumpkin plants can be started indoors 2-3 weeks before the last frost date
in your area. Or, seeds can be direct seeded into your garden. Plant these
tender annuals outdoors after the last frost date for your area.
Pumpkins are vining plants that can quickly spread very far. Follow the spacing
directions on the packet. They can vary significantly variety. Water well
after planting, and a second time two to four days later, only if there has
been no rain.
Pumpkin seeds can be planted in hills four to six feet apart. Sow four to
six seeds per hill, thinning to two to three. Or, plant in rows six inches
apart, thinning to 1 to 3 feet apart, depending upon how much space you have.
Plant miniatures closer, and Giants farther apart.
Pumpkin plants are big feeders. They need a very rich soil, with lots
of compost and manure (if you can get it). Fertilize on a regular basis.
Use a high nitrogen formula in early plant growth. Switch over to a fertilizer
high in Phosphorous (the middle number) just before the blooming period.
On occasion, pollination can be a problem. For tips and information on
The plants also need lots of water. Try to keep the soil moist, not wet,
at all times. It is also important to avoid getting the leaves wet, if possible.
Heat and humidity is the perfect ingredient for powdery mildew, a major problem
for your pumpkin patch. Also, avoid watering near dark.
Is your garden space limited? When it come to growing pumpkins,
where there's a will, there's a way. Let the vines grow across the lawn or
sidewalk(see picture above). It's only for a few weeks. You might be amazed
at some of the places that people have grown pumpkins. We received an email
from a woman in Los Angeles. She was growing pumpkins on the rooftop of a
high-rise apartment, inside of an old kiddie pool. It is also possible to
grow them, in big 5-10 gallon buckets is possible. Try miniature varieties
in buckets or large containers on your deck. Let the plants hang off the
Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable
pH - by vegetable
When to Pick Pumpkins:
It's easy to tell when a pumpkin is ripe. It turns a bright orange. Pick
pumpkins when ripe, and put them somewhere in or around the house where they
If your pumpkins ripens early, we recommend you pick them before an animal
finds them and decides to eat it for dinner. Store them in a col, dry place
out of sunlight until the weather cools in your area. Once the weather cools,
bring them outside for display.
Tip: The stem gives pumpkins character. Use a sharp knife to cut the
stem. And, never carry a pumpkin by the stem, as it can break.
See more Pumpkin Picking Tips
Insects and Pests:
Gardeners love pumpkins. Insects and a wide variety of pests love 'em, too.
The most common insects are Cucumber beetles, squash vine borers and squash
bugs. Dusting or spraying regularly before an infestation occurs, is recommended.
Squash Vine Borers (SVB's) are a serious problem in some areas. SVB's bore
into the vine, and eats the vine from the inside out. Untreated, it ends
your season. More on Squash Vine
Squash Bugs will suck the juices of plants. If severe, the plant will die.
More on Squash Bugs
Among the animals that love pumpkins (either the plants or the fruit) are
bunnies, woodchuck, squirrels and deer. Use animal repellent like pepper
and garlic sprays as needed. More on sprays.
Pumpkin Plant Diseases:
A variety of diseases affect pumpkin plants, most notable is powdery mildew.
Apply fungicides at the first sign of a problem. Better still, apply them
before plant disease problems occur. Hot, humid weather encourages pumpkin
Tip: Allow enough time after watering for the leaves to dry before
evening. Water on the leaves in warm weather encourages plant disease.
Pumpkin plants are tender annuals. Protect them from frost and cold weather
both spring and fall. Weather below 50 degrees will slow or even stunt their
May we suggest:
Pumpkin Nook is the internet authority
on pumpkins. From how to grow, to recipes and history, it's all there.
Pumpkin Carving - After you've grown
'em, it's time to decorate and carve 'em.
Jack Be Little Pumpkins
to Grow Big Pumpkins -and small ones, too.
Pumpkin On a Stick!? Perhaps.......