Pumpkin Growing Tips: How To Grow Pumpkin Seeds For Your Garden

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.

When to Plant Pumpkin Seeds

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.

How to Plant Pumpkin Seeds

Starting Pumpkin Seeds Outside

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.

Starting Pumpkin Seeds Indoors

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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  • Pumpkin is a member of the genus Cucurbita and the family Curcurbitaceae. Fruits grow on long vines and comes in many varieties and colors, but are mostly orange when ripe.
  • It is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when its color has changed from green, usually well into the fall.
  • Like other winter squash, it can be stored intact for carving and eating later in the season. Some varieties are preferable for carving, some for making pies.
  • Pumpkin seeds can also be cleaned, dried, and salted for eating.
  • Similar to other members of the squash family, pumpkins produce male flowers for 1 to 2 weeks before female flowers appear. This is a normal growth habit and varies with cultivars. For a flower to develop into a fruit, pollen must be carried by bees from male flowers, on the same plant or on different plants, to the female flower (the one with the tiny fruit below the flower). Poor fruit-set is common during rainy weather when bees are inactive. Avoid using any pesticides during the bloom period to prevent poisoning pollinators.

Female squash flowers

Male flower on left female on right

  • Watering – Water deeply and regularly at the base of each plant, especially during hot, dry weather and once fruits start to form.
  • Weeding –Remove all young weed seedlings by hand or with a hoe and use a mulch around plants to keep weed seeds from germinating.

How to Grow Pumpkins

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.

When to Plant

  • Summer is the best time to start growing pumpkin plants from pumpkin seeds.
  • Check catalogs and seed packets for varieties recommended for pies. You can carve any pie-friendly variety for a jack-o-lantern, too.
  • However, take note: If you’re interested in growing a white pumpkin or green pumpkin for fall decorating, you might not achieve the same kind of flavor from the flesh for pies.

Best Varieties

  • We have grown several kinds of pumpkins in our Test Garden, then sent the harvest to our Test Kitchen, where cooks used the pureed pumpkin flesh in scratch pies.
  • In the tasting that followed, ‘Cinderella’ won top honors and ‘Small Sugar’ came in a close second.
  • Both varieties have a rich, sweet pumpkin flavor and flesh that bakes well into a firm but creamy filling.

Pumpkin Growing Tips

  • Choose a site in full sun.
  • After the danger of frost is past and the soil is warm, create mounds of soil about 6 inches high, 1 foot in diameter, and 6 to 8 feet apart (remember, one pumpkin vine can eventually occupy up to 500 square feet of space).
  • Sow seeds 1 inch deep, planting five or six per hill.
  • After the pumpkin seedlings sprout, thin to the two strongest seedlings.
  • As they grow, steer new shoots in the direction you want them to crawl.
  • When you water, try not to splash the leaves, since this encourages mildew.
  • Feed plants regularly with a balanced granular fertilizer or liquid plant food.
  • As the pumpkins mature, slip a sheet of plastic foam, a peice of plywood, or a shingle under each fruit. This will keep the pumpkin’s shell from touching the ground and developing rot.

Harvesting Tips

  • Pumpkins mature three to four months after planting. When the shell has hardened and has a strong, even yellow color, harvest is close.
  • In cold areas, after the first frost kills the leaves, cut the fruit from the vine, leaving at least an inch of stem. Elsewhere, harvest after the leaves and vines turn brown and brittle.
  • Store pumpkins in a cool, dry place until you are ready to prepare them for pie.

Pumpkin Varieties

  • Butternut is reliable and great for the home garden
  • Golden Nugget is smaller than many and is another variety that is great for home gardeners
  • Potimarron is a popular French pumpkin . Small, teardrop-shaped fruit, great colour in the red skin and an aromatic flesh that has a chestnut flavour. A great pumpkin for roasting.
  • Turk’s Turban is also great roasted (and it stores well) it is also a great looking pumpkin, not your traditional look, but like a ‘Turks Turban’.
  • Of course the popular JAP, Queensland Blue, Butternut, Kent and Golden Nugget are all suitable to home growing. And if you are growing a JAP pumpkin, what is it ? Its a hybrid usually between the popular Kent and something else, ‘Just A Pumpkin’.
Pumpkin Seeds

Saving your own pumpkin seeds
It is so easy to do and cost nothing.

  • Simply remove the seeds and wash the pulp off.
  • Rinse well and lay out to dry.
  • Once they are dry you can store them in a cool dry position in a jar or in a paper envelope.
  • Try to use them the next year.

  • Roasted, mashed, in a pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup. Pumpkins are also grown for the decorative fruit.
  • Giant pumpkin competitions are held in many areas and in the USA pumpkins are an important part of the Halloween tradition.
  • Pumpkins are great for roasting, or in pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie. They can also be used (roasted) in vegetable lasagne.
  • We roast our pumpkins before we make the soup, or the pie or indeed anything, roasting seems to bring out a nutty flavour, at least we think so.

Butternut Pumpkin JAP Pumpkin Kaboucha Pumpkin

What else you don’t know about pumpkins?

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.

Watch the video: Growing Pumpkin Plant from Seed to Flowers 50-day Time Lapse

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