Jack-O-Lanterns, pumpkin pies, pumpkin soup—the possibilities are limitless! Grow the perfect pumpkin, from pie pumpkins, tiny pumpkins to use in your fall décor, or giant pumpkins that will impress your fellow gardeners!
How To Plant Pumpkins
Start: If you live in an area with a long growing season, then you can plant pumpkin seeds directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Otherwise, start pumpkins indoors about two weeks before planting, and once they sprout, make sure to start taking them outside gradually to harden them off. When seedlings have four to five leaves, plant them in small mounds, spacing each mound about 20 feet apart.
Water: Pumpkins take a lot of water, so make sure to water regularly—maybe even daily during the hottest, driest parts of summer. At the same time, they don’t like water to pool, so make sure the soil drains well.
Soil: Soil should be rich, loamy, and well-drained. pH 6 to 6.5.
Light: Full sun.
Fertilize: Pumpkins love lots of nitrogen, so feed throughout the growing season with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Once pumpkins appear, add potassium to your fertilizing routine to produce robust, healthy pumpkins.
Harvest: Today’s pumpkins come in lots of colors—make sure to harvest yours when the skin and rind turn the desired color, whether that’s traditional orange, white, or some other shade. Another good clue to harvesting pumpkins is the rind’s hardness. If you can dent it with your fingernail, it’s not quite ready yet!
Notes: Pumpkins work well planted among tall vegetables like corn because they serve as a groundcover to keep weeds down. If you companion plant your pumpkins, however, take care to make sure the vines don’t pull down taller vegetable plants!