Carve Out Some Garden Space for Pumpkins!
Pumpkin Growing Guide
While most people grow pumpkins for decorative purposes, there are also many varieties that are popular for eating just like squash! Experiment with different types of pumpkins or focus on just one. Either way, you'll have fun planting these easy-to-grow crops and watching them as they take shape in your garden.
Sowing: Start pumpkin seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date. Prior to transplanting, work generous amounts of compost or dried manure into the soil because pumpkins love rich, well-drained soil. Never crowd pumpkins. Competition for sun, space, or nutrients will decrease the number of female flowers and thus the production. Transplant pumpkin plants to hills with 3-4 plants per hill and at least 12 inches between plants. Hills should be 10 feet apart.
Growing: We recommend you cover your pumpkin hills with 6mm black polyethylene plastic. The plastic keeps the soil warm, protects against insects and soil borne pathogens, reduces weeding, and leads to earlier and higher yields. Water your pumpkin plants regularly but be sure not to overwater, keeping in mind that pumpkins prefer well-drained soil. They also prefer direct sunlight, which makes them ideal for planting in larger spaces like open fields.
Picking: To determine if your pumpkins are ready for harvest, press a fingernail into the skin. If it dents a bit but does not puncture, it's ripe and ready for picking. Be sure to use a sharp knife or pruners to free your pumpkins from the vine. To help with longevity, be sure to harvest pumpkins with a minimum of 3-4 inches of stem still intact.
Eating: Pumpkins have long been loved for their tasty seeds, but did you know there are many varieties of edible pumpkins that can be enjoyed much like their squash relatives? And they're packed with great health benefits too, like being rich in beta carotene, vitamins A and C, potassium, and many other nutrients. They're also a great source of fiber.
Knowing: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "The largest pumpkin pie weighs 1,678 kg (3,699 lbs.) and was made by New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers (USA) at New Bremen Pumpkinfest in New Bremen, Ohio, USA, on 25 September 2010. The diameter of the pie was 6 m (20 ft.). The crust was made of 440 sheets of dough and the other ingredients were canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice."
Container Friendly? While it's been said that anything can be grown in a container provided the container is big enough, pumpkins aren't really considered to be in the realm of container-friendly plants. Their vines sprawl and the fruit gets rather large, making them best suited for garden growing.