Pumpkins are the definition of the Autumn season, as well as a symbol for the popularly celebrated holiday, Halloween! As you know, pumpkins are perfect to carve for Halloween festivities, and can also make a delicious pie as well. They come in a number of sizes, producing many colors. You might be surprised to know that there are actually white pumpkins, blue pumpkins, pink pumpkins, red pumpkins & even black colored pumpkins!
Growing pumpkins from seeds can seem like a challenge to some, but the long process is well worth it when it's time to harvest the fruits of your labor. We will discuss everything you need to know about growing pumpkins, covering topics such as environmental preferences, including sunlight, moisture, soil, temperatures etc. We will also help you determine the best methods of planting pumpkin seeds, as well as when to plant pumpkin seeds.
When To Plant Pumpkin Seeds
First and foremost, pumpkins LOVE the heat of summer and wilt during the cold months of winter. With that being said, you should already be thinking about sowing pumpkin seeds in mid June for most varieties. Usually, the larger the fruit, the longer it will take to produce. So if you are looking to grow miniature pumpkins, like the "Jack Be Little," you will want to have at least 95 to 105 days to play with, prior to your desired harvest date. Others, such as the "Atlantic Giant" variety, will take as many as 125 days until the fruits are ready to harvest.
If you are a northern gardener, with a short summer season, it may be best to get a head start by planting your pumpkin seeds indoors, 6 to 8 weeks earlier than most southern gardeners. When growing pumpkins, you might also consider selecting smaller varieties, which typically take less time to produce, as explained above.
It is always wise to refer to the seed packet, of the variety you are planning to grow. All Seed Needs packages will have the "days until harvest" visible on the front side, above our logo. This information will help you determine the best variety to choose when growing pumpkins.
When growing pumpkins, you should keep three things in mind, pumpkins require plenty of sunshine, a rich & fertile soil, as well as plenty of moisture. If you can provide your pumpkin plants with these three basic necessities, then you will be on your way to a bountiful harvest.
Provide an area of full sunlight in which your pumpkin plants can thrive. Temperatures should be at least 65F to 70F in the day time and at least 55F to 60F in the night. The soil should be rich & fertile, filled with all sorts of organic matter. Pumpkins are heavy feeders, so having a nutrient rich medium will allow them to grow rapidly. You will also want to make sure that your medium is light, fluffy and loose. Adding a light compost to areas containing hard, compact soil can increase your drainage, which is absolutely CRUCIAL to the successful growth of your pumpkin plants.
Water your pumpkin plants daily, to ensure that they receive plenty of moisture. Be cautious of wetting the leaves too much however, as this can cause mildew and negative effects from the sun. Using a soaker hose directly on the main vine is best to provide moisture directly to the roots.
How To Plant Pumpkin Seeds
The first step you should take when planting your pumpkin seeds, is to rid your sowing area of all weeds & unwanted plant life, making sure that you have at least 15 to 25 square feet of garden space to work with. We then recommend creating hills, or mounds of dirt, 8 inches high, and 18 to 24 inches wide. This will help to increase drainage and will also lift your plants up toward the sun a bit.
Now that you have successfully prepared your sowing area, you are ready to sow the seed! The rule of thumb with sowing any seed, is to sow a seed double that of it's size. For pumpkins, the depth in which you would place your seeds is roughly 1" under topsoil. Some smaller varieties can even be sown at 3/4" under, and larger seeds can be sown at a depth of 1.5" under topsoil.
Sow 2 to 4 seeds per mound, spacing each seed roughly 8 inches apart from one another. When the seeds begin the sprout, and the seedlings vine outwards, simply direct them in opposite directions to avoid over crowding.
Germination & Growth Habits
Your Pumpkin seeds will be quick to germinate, taking as little as 7 to 10 days to sprout open. The plants themselves will form vines, which trail outwards, taking up as much as 15 feet in garden space. They will also grow to a height of about 24 to 30 inches tall. In a matter of a few short weeks, your pumpkin vines will produce male flowers that will wilt within a day or two. Their pollen will attract bumblebees which will later pollinate the female flowers.
Because pumpkin plants can take up such a large area, we would advise you to grow them on the outskirts of the garden, directing them away from other vegetable plants.
In a matter of 2 to 3 months, your pumpkins will begin to grow bigger, turning from dark green, to orange. During this time, many gardeners will place straw or cardboard under their fruits. This prevents your pumpkins from sitting directly on the soggy soil, which can cause them to rot. When the rind of your pumpkin becomes hard and bright orange, it's time to harvest! To remove your fruits, leave a good 3" inches of vine / stem, otherwise the pumpkin will be more likely to rot when removed. We recommend using a sharp knife for a clean cut.
After the fruits are removed, keep them out of the sunlight. You can store pumpkins for up to 3 months if the ideal conditions are met. Storing them in temperatures of 50F is best, with a humidity level of about 60 percent.
In conclusion, growing pumpkins can be a handful of work, but the benefits are so worth it. Kids, as well as adults love growing pumpkins because the end result often ends in a delicious pie, a cute carved pumpkin, or tasty roasted pumpkin seeds. We hope that this article has assisted you in the best way to grow pumpkin plants, as well as when to grow pumpkin plants. Please check out some of our popular choices of pumpkins below. And don't forget to comment and let us know if this article was helpful to you in establishing pumpkin plants.