Have you ever wondered how to grow pumpkins? It’s hard to think about fall without picturing this fall favorite. When summer winds down and the weather gets a bit chilly, pumpkins are everywhere. They even made their way onto many of our fall shirts, like this Pumpkin Vibes one!
If you have the space and time, you can even grow your own pumpkins. And no worries if you have no clue where to start. Once you know the basics, you can turn your garden into pumpkin paradise. Keep reading to learn how to grow pumpkins!
How to grow pumpkins
- Pick your pumpkin type
- Wait until the time is right
- Prep the site
- Plant your pumpkins
- Pumpkin care
- Harvest your pumpkins
1. Pick your pumpkin type
First, you’ll want to pick your pumpkin type. There are actually dozens of different types of pumpkins! Think about what you want to do with your fun fall fruit. Maybe you want to whip up mouthwatering pies, or maybe you want to carve spooky jack-o-lanterns. You may even just want some colorful pumpkins to spice up your fall home décor. Here are some pumpkin types!
- Jack-o-lantern pumpkins: These tend to have more thin flesh and a large inside, making them perfect for carving.
- Giant pumpkins: These babies are made to be huge! They can grow to be hundreds of pounds. Just imagine the ribbon you could win from your local fair.
- Mini pumpkins: On the other hand, these adorable little guys are great for decorations.
- Colorful pumpkins: Not all pumpkins are orange! They can be white or even blue. These are great for some colorful décor.
- Pie pumpkins: With sweet fruit that’s perfect for pie, these pumpkins are made for eating.
- Naked pumpkins: These have seeds without hulls, so they’re great for roasted pumpkin seeds. You can pick your favorite spice and bake up a delicious snack.
There are so many choices! What would you grow? Next, there are a few more things to think about before you get started.
- Plant size: Pumpkins take up some space with their sprawling vines. Think about how much space you have, and remember some types take up more space than others.
- Time: After planting seeds, pumpkins take between 80 to 120 days to be ready to harvest. The time will depend on the type! Small types take less time, while giant pumpkins need more time.
- Disease resistance: Sadly, your pumpkins can get diseases. Consider looking for a type that’s resistant, or dig deeper with some research to see what grows best in your area.
2. Wait until the time is right
Resist the urge to start planting seeds the moment the frost has gone. Pumpkins need steadily warm temperatures to thrive, and seeds won’t sprout unless the soil is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for a while. Wait until the weather is warm enough to avoid a garden full of freezing fruit.
Next, keep in mind they will need between 80 and 120 days to grow before fruit will be ready to harvest. If you’re shooting for Halloween pumpkins, you’ll need a summer start.
3. Prep the site
Now that you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin, it’s time to prep! Pumpkins thrive in sunny spots with fertile soil, so pamper your pumpkins by giving them both. Head out to your garden and dig a hole about 1 foot deep and 1 to 3 feet wide. Fill the hole with compost, or a mixture of manure and soil. Mound up the rest of the mixture above the hole, and you’re ready to go! Here are a couple of other quick tips for how to grow pumpkins that are happy and healthy:
- Soil test: A soil test will help you learn about nutrient levels and pH levels in your soil. Many tests will even have suggestions for how to improve the soil, so test it out.
- Crop rotation: As covered above, pumpkins can get pests and diseases. You can lend your plants a helping hand by moving them around. If you leave them growing in the same spot year after year, it will be easier for pesky pests and diseases to find their way in.
4. Plant your pumpkins
You can start your seeds a couple different ways.
- Indoors: If you’re antsy to get started, or you live in an area with a very frosty spring, you can always start your plants indoors. Place them in a pot and then in a warm, sunny spot. Then wait until it’s warm enough to move them out to your garden.
- Outdoors: If it’s warm enough, you can start outside. Remember that the plants need a lot of space. Your seed packet should have the details, but it would be safe to space them about 5 feet apart.
5. Pumpkin care
Yay! Your pumpkins are planted. Now you just need to give them some love.
- Water: A thirsty pumpkin is a sad one, and it won’t thrive. A soaker hose is great since it gives water right to the roots without making the plant’s leaves wet. Soggy leaves could be even more prone to disease.
- Mulch: This plant boost will ward off weeds, hang onto moisture, and lift fruits above the soil. Put down newspaper or cardboard on the ground around the plants, then cover it with a layer of straw. This can make the soil a bit cooler, so be sure to wait until it’s warm enough.
- Pollinating: Usually bees pollinate your pumpkins. If they need a hand, you can do it yourself. Pumpkins have separate male and female flowers on the plant. The males usually arrive first. Both are large and yellow, but the female flowers will have tiny fruit behind its petals. To pollinate by hand, pick a male flower and rub it against the female flower.
- Maintaining: Pumpkins can have problems. Give them lots of love with good conditions and crop rotation.
6. Harvest your pumpkins
Before picking your pumpkins, make sure they’re fully mature. When they’re ready, the outside should be dull and waxy. You shouldn’t be able to poke through the outside of them easily. Also, make sure they’re dry as damp pumpkins may not last as long. If they’re ready, cut the stem a few inches above the fruit.
You’re now done with Pumpkin 101! Pumpkins need some planning and work, but what could be more fun than growing your own fruit? Whether you want some cute décor, or you want to make some sweet fall treats or salty snacks, there’s a pumpkin that can make it happen. And now that you know how to grow pumpkins, you’re on the path to pumpkin perfection! What would you do with your pumpkins?