By: Heather Rhoades
When do you start growing a pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) is a question that many gardeners have. These spectacular squash are not only a fun fall decoration, but they can make several tasty treats as well. Pumpkin growing isn’t hard and is even a popular garden activity for a child in the garden. Let’s take a few minutes to learn a few pumpkin growing tips for starting pumpkins from seed.
Before you can grow pumpkin seeds, you need to know when to plant pumpkin seeds. When you plant your pumpkins depends on what you plan on using them for.
If you plan on making jack-o-lanterns with your pumpkins, plant your pumpkins outside after all chance of frost has passed and the soil temperature has reached 65 F. (18 C.). Take into account that pumpkin plants grow faster in hot climates than cold climates. This means that what month to plant pumpkin seeds changes depending on where you live. So, in cooler parts of the country, the best time when to plant pumpkin seeds is in late May and in warmer parts of the country, you can wait until mid July to plant pumpkins for Halloween.
If you plan on growing pumpkins as a food crop (or for a giant pumpkin contest), you can start your pumpkins indoors about two to three weeks before the last frost date for your area.
When you plant pumpkin seeds outside, remember that pumpkins need an incredible amount of space to grow. It’s recommended that you plan on a minimum of 20 square feet (2 sq. m.) being needed for each plant.
When the soil temperature is at least 65 F. (18 C.), you can plant your pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds won’t germinate in cold soil. Mound the soil in the center of the chosen location up a bit to help the sun heat the pumpkin seeds. The warmer the soil, the faster the pumpkin seeds will germinate. In the mound, plant three to five pumpkin seeds about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) deep.
Once the pumpkin seeds germinate, select two of the healthiest and thin out the rest.
Loosely pack some potting soil in a cup or a container with holes for drainage. Plant two to four pumpkin seeds 1 inch (2.5 cm.) deep in the soil. Water the pumpkin seeds just enough so that the soil is moist but not swamped. Place the cup on a heating pad. Once seeds have germinated, thin out all but the strongest seedling, then place the seeding and cup under a light source (bright window or fluorescent light bulb). Keeping the seedling on the heating pad will cause it to grow faster.
Once all danger of frost has passed in your area, move the pumpkin seedling to the garden. Carefully remove the pumpkin seedling from the cup, but don’t disturb the roots of the plant. Place in a hole 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) deeper and wider than the rootball of the pumpkin plant and backfill the hole. Tap down around the pumpkin seedling and water thoroughly.
Pumpkin growing can be rewarding and fun. Take some time this year to plant pumpkin seeds in your garden.
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Female squash flowers
Male flower on left female on right
Plant in summer, and when fall comes, you’ll have beautiful pumpkins for jack-o-lantern carving and homemade pies
Can anything beat the wonderful fall traditions of carving pumpkins for Halloween and baking homemade pumpkin pie for a fall dessert? Only the satisfaction of doing it all with homegrown pumpkins. Growing pumpkins and carving or baking is a great family project, particularly baking a pumpkin pie from scratch–if the rich pumpkin flavor doesn’t surpass any pie you ever tasted, your sense of accomplishment will.
Saving your own pumpkin seeds
It is so easy to do and cost nothing.
The ideal weight of a pumpkin is 600gms to 1.5 kg. Atlantic giant heavyweight pumpkin is the world’s largest size, up to 500 pounds—the best way to grow pumpkin by using healthy seeds.
In North America, pumpkin seeds are also called pepita which is edible. Seeds are flat and oval. Its outer layer shell is white after removing its outer layer husk, its color is light green. As like a nut, you can intake seed during meals. You can find full nutrients in pumpkin seeds because it contains zinc, magnesium, omega, vitamin K, copper, carbs, fiber, manganese, vitamin B2, and folate. In a study, scientists found that eating pumpkin seeds in a routine may reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.
In cozy winters, sow pumpkin seeds in the mid-winter before early summer. Try to sow it indoors before the frost in spring and plant your seed in a peat pot for 3 to 4 weeks in 66 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit temperature needed for its germination. Pumpkin seeds can survive in the cool season, but if you planted when the soil and temperature are 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it can tolerate heavy frost.
At that time, you need to cover your plant with old sheets, blankets, or quilt to save their life at a freezing point temperature. For deadly plant disease which may cause microorganisms, plants must get hot-water treatment for their survival. This treatment is very effective for reducing the level of pathogens. In winters, it needs watering at least in a week, or 10 days are sufficient.
Pumpkin vines are heavy feeders. The basic need for its growth is compost mix with water and required regular treatment. 50 to 100 square feet of garden land is enough for sowing with full sunlight. It also grows across the edge of the lawn. You have to use row covers to protect from insects and weather but also remind to remove the cover before flowering to allow pollination.
When the sunrise pumpkin flowers are open for 6 hours, bees are allowed to move and transfer the pollen from male to female blossoms within 15 minutes of visits. Still, bees take much time for a visit to complete their mission successfully pollination. After pollination, the female long steamed flower turns into a large ovary.