how to grow pumpkins

HOW TO GROW PUMPKINS

October is one of my favorite months of the year. I love the crisp air, the change of seasons, the harvest, and the pumpkins. But why write about October and fall gardening when it’s May? Because if you love the fall like I do and want to grow your own pumpkins, you need to start now!

Every USDA Hardiness Zone has a different timetable for when to plant pumpkins, so be sure you know the recommended time for your area. Planting too early or too late results in a poor harvest, and there’s nothing fun about that. And for guidance on what types of pumpkins to grow, check out our article “Pumpkin Varieties for the Home Garden.”

  1. Plant seeds or transplants. Pumpkins are very easy to grow from seed, but if you’re late getting your seeds in or you just want a head start, opt for 4” transplants. Choose a site with as much full sun as possible and well drained soil. Avoid giving them any fertilizer with extra nitrogen, which could result in an abundance of foliage at the expense of pumpkins.
  2. Give them adequate space. Pumpkins grow on vines that sprawl across the ground, so you’ll need to plan ahead to give them the room they need. Space full size pumpkins 5 feet apart and mini pumpkins 2-3 feet apart. This year, I’m experimenting with growing small pumpkins (Jack Be Little) on the fence surrounding my vegetable garden. The fence provides the structure while allowing me to use the garden beds for other plants.
  3. Water well. Pumpkins need adequate water to grow and produce well, particularly as they’re getting established. I like to use drip or soaker hoses to get the water close to the roots, as overhead watering deposits moisture on leaves and may result in powdery mildew. If you are using a hand-held hose with an attachment, get close to the plant and aim the water at the base of the plant. Better yet, set your attachment to the “drip” or “soak” setting and let it slowly soak into the soil.
  4. Wilting isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Most vines wilt under hot summer sun, so don’t panic. If, however, you notice that the vines wilt before 11:00 a.m., then the plant needs water. Aim for consistent moisture to avoid early morning wlting that can unduly stress a plant.
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