Growing pumpkins stands as an enduring symbol of fall, whether they end up as smiling jack-o'-lanterns or stacked near cornstalks for a lovely autumn scene.Meet those requirements, and these sprawling vines will bear a bumper crop, especially when you start with strong young pumpkin plants from Bonnie Plants®, the company that has been lending a hand to home gardeners for over 100 years.Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.Plan to give each vine at least a 3-foot diameter mound, or hill, of warm, enriched soil.In cool climates, warm the soil a week before planting by covering it with a piece of black plastic.It is best to use a drip system or soaker hose to directly water soil at the base of vines so as to avoid wetting foliage.Wet foliage is more susceptible to fungus, such as powdery mildew, which can slowly kill all the leaves on a vine.Some gardeners promote branching to get more pumpkins by pinching the tips out of main vines when they reach about 2 feet long.You can also increase the yield on a vine by removing all female flowers (these have a small swelling at the base of the bloom) for the first 3 weeks.These practices may produce a sturdier vine that can set more, albeit smaller, pumpkins during the growing season if you have good soil, sun, and moisture.Insect pests of pumpkins include spotted and striped cucumber beetles, which can transmit bacterial wilt disease, which causes vines to collapse and die.As pumpkins form, you can slip a piece of cardboard or folded newspaper beneath the fruit to prevent contact with soil and possible rot, especially if you are growing a precious few.Fruit is ripe when the outside is fully coloured, skin is hard, and the stem begins to shrivel and dry.Before storing, cure pumpkins by setting them in the sun for 10 to 14 days to harden the skin, seal the stem, and improve taste.Dry, warm weather is best; protect curing pumpkins from frosty nights with old blankets or by moving them into a shed or garage. .
How to Grow Pumpkins
I left Gardener’s Supply in 2017 to get a master’s degree in ecological landscape design from the Conway School.In that role, I maintained dozens of gardens and planted thousands of perennials, shrubs, and trees.Although some pumpkins grow on long vines that extend more than 20 feet, there are compact varieties that fit nicely in smaller gardens.Today, you can find pumpkins that are yellow, white, blue-gray, green-striped — even oddballs like Black Futsu, a 3 to 5-pounder with knobby skin.If you're planting in a raised bed or garden, choose a spot where vines have room to ramble.For instance, if the variety you're considering needs 110 days to mature, make sure you have enough time between your average first and last frost dates.At planting time, it is covered with garden fabric to protect the seedling against cucumber beetles.Gwenael Engelskirchen, who tests new varieties for High Mowing Seeds, prefers to start them inside — about three weeks before ideal outdoor planting weather arrives."By putting a healthy transplant (instead of a seed) into the ground, you are further along in your growing and have that much more insurance that you'll get a successful crop.".If grown indoors too long — or in too large a pot — the plants will be unwieldy and difficult to transplant.Engelskirchen recalls a set of pumpkin seedlings that was planted one day and defoliated the next morning.More information on pumpkin pests and diseases: Vegetable MD Online, Cornell Cooperative Extension.Make contact with your county cooperative extension service, where there are gardeners who can tell you which varieties are known to perform well in your area — and what pests and diseases to watch for. .
How to Grow and Care for Pumpkins
tall, 20-30 ft. long, 10-15 ft.
spread Sun Exposure Full sun Soil Type Moist, loamy Soil pH Acidic Bloom Time Summer Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA) Native Area North America.Pumpkins are typically planted in raised rows or in hills that allow the sun to warm the soil early in the spring.Like other types of squash, pumpkins require full sun (at least six hours of light per day) to produce and mature their fruits.Before planting, it's recommended to mix in a good amount of organic material such as compost or peat moss.Pumpkins feed heavily in order to develop their extensive vines and large fruit.Begin with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (10-5-5 ratio) when the plants are about 1 foot tall to support good foliage growth.Just before the plants begin blooming in summer, switch to a high-phosphorus and potassium fertilizer (5-15-15 ratio) to support fruit development.Pollination must occur while the flowers are open, which only lasts for a few hours (so it must be timed properly).'Cinderella': This variety is so named because it looks like the deep-ribbed pumpkin that transformed into Cinderella's coach in the classic animated movie.This variety is so named because it looks like the deep-ribbed pumpkin that transformed into Cinderella's coach in the classic animated movie.'Jack-O-Lantern': Aptly named, this variety has a relatively thin rind that glows when a light source is placed inside the hollowed shell.Aptly named, this variety has a relatively thin rind that glows when a light source is placed inside the hollowed shell.'Red Warty Thing': With bright orange-red skin, this pumpkin is covered with knobby "warts.".Aside from their obvious differences in shape, pumpkins and squash are separate plants despite coming from the same scientific genus.Additionally, pumpkins have a sweeter flavor when used in cooking, and they are more often used in dessert dishes than savory meals.If you live in a short-season climate, make sure you choose a variety that will have time to mature in your garden.Don't rush harvesting; your pumpkins won't last long or taste great.Wait until the color is uniform and the shell doesn’t dent when pressed with a fingernail.Most importantly, remember that pumpkins require a lot of room to grow successfully—so you should have a large patio or section of your yard dedicated to housing the vines.Choose a container at least 10 to 20 gallons in size (opt for more space when growing a large variety of pumpkins).Terracotta or unglazed ceramic pots are best, as these materials do not hold excess moisture.Once temperatures have consistently reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit, plant your pumpkin seeds 1 to 2 inches deep in the soil.Pruning pumpkins is an important step to remove any fruits from the vine that are not growing healthy.Trimming back unnecessary growth is also helpful to control the size of large plants.Pumpkins are most often grown from seed, as this method is the easiest and most effective way to grow healthy fruit for the harvest.Plant your pumpkin seeds in a spot with full sun about 1 inch deep in the soil, spaced at least 4 to 8 feet apart to give them plenty of room to grow.Apply fertilizer starting when the plants are about 1 foot tall, then prune the end of the vines once they've reached 10 to 15 feet in length.Prepare the new growing location by tilling the soil (if needed), then digging a hole deep enough to contain the plant's root system.Since the growing season for pumpkins is from early spring to fall, it's important to harvest your plants before the first frost of winter.Thankfully, it's easy to store pumpkin seeds over the winter to grow new plants from your original harvest.The best preventive measure is to regularly inspect plants and pick off the red eggs or grayish insects.A variety of pesticides approved for pumpkins will kill these insects, but chemical controls should be a last resort.You can prevent cucumber beetles by using row covers over the plants, but these will need to be removed when it is time for the flowers to pollinate.Anthracnose causes dark, sunken lesions on the leaves, and it can also affect fruits that lie on the ground.Remove and destroy any damaged plant parts as you spot them, and keep the ground free of debris. .
How do giant pumpkins grow so big?
Each autumn, farmers across the country load their largest pumpkins into the back of pickup trucks and drive them into town for weighing.Some of the most enormous vegetables top out at more than 2,000 pounds, or one ton, and earn the growers thousands of dollars in prize money.“You have to start with the right seed,” said Bob Westerfield, a horticulturist at the University of Georgia.Westerfield recommends using varieties named Atlantic Giant or Big Max, though he said you’re unlikely to find them at local stores.This is important, because if you plant pumpkins too late in the year, they may not have enough warm weather and sunlight to grow to their full potential.This is done by adding nutrients to the soil, such as bagged topsoil and compost, when the seeds go in the ground.The female flowers, which have a slight bulge at the base, will eventually turn into fruit. .
A pumpkin is a cultivar of winter squash that is round with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and is most often deep yellow to orange in coloration.Native to North America (northeastern Mexico and the southern United States), pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been used as early as 7,000 to 5,500 BC. Under this theory, the term transitioned through the Latin word peponem and the Middle French word pompon to the Early Modern English pompion, which was changed to pumpkin by 17th-century English colonists, shortly after encountering pumpkins upon their arrival in what is now the northeastern United States. In North America and the United Kingdom, pumpkin traditionally refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo, while in New Zealand and Australian English, the term pumpkin generally refers to all winter squash.The color of pumpkins derives from orange carotenoid pigments, including beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha and beta carotene, all of which are provitamin A compounds converted to vitamin A in the body.Characteristics commonly used to define "pumpkin" include smooth and slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange color.Giant pumpkins are large squash with a pumpkin-like appearance that grow to exceptional size, with the largest exceeding a tonne in mass. Most are varieties of Cucurbita maxima, and were developed through the efforts of botanical societies and enthusiast farmers.In 2020, world production of pumpkins (including squash and gourds) was 28 million tonnes, with China accounting for 27% of the total.As one of the most popular crops in the United States, in 2017 over 680 million kilograms (1.5 billion pounds) of pumpkins were produced. Nestlé, operating under the brand name Libby's, produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the United States, at their plant in Morton, Illinois.Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and the flowers.In its native North America, pumpkins are an important part of the traditional autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and purées.Often, it is made into pumpkin pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays.In Canada, Mexico, the United States, Europe and China, the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.In the Indian subcontinent, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa.In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups.In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are a popular and widely available food item.Pumpkin leaves are also eaten in Zambia, where they are called chibwabwa and are boiled and cooked with groundnut paste as a side dish.They are about 1.5 cm (0.5 in) long, flat, asymmetrically oval, light green in color and usually covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them.Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at many grocery stores.Per ounce serving, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.[qualify evidence] In Germany and southeastern Europe, seeds of C. pepo were also used as folk remedies to treat irritable bladder and benign prostatic hyperplasia.[qualify evidence] In China, C. moschata seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis and for the expulsion of tape worms.Pumpkin seed meal (C.
moschata) represents a rich source of nutrients for poultry feeding with significant improvements in eggs for human consumption.Traditionally Britain and Ireland would carve lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede,.They continue to be popular choices today as carved lanterns in Scotland and Northern Ireland, although the British purchased a million pumpkins for Halloween in 2004.The practice of carving pumpkins for Halloween originated from an Irish myth about a man named "Stingy Jack".In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o'-lanterns. This has led to a notable trend in pumpkin and spice flavored food products in North America.The custom of carving jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins derives from folklore about a lost soul wandering the earth.In some adaptations of Washington Irving's ghost story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman is said to use a pumpkin as a substitute head.In most folklore the carved pumpkin is meant to scare away evil spirits on All Hallows' Eve (that is, Halloween), when the dead were purported to walk the earth. .
How Do Pumpkins Grow?
Depending on your location, that means you could start planting as early as May or as late as July.Something else that's vital for pumpkin growth is the sun.For farmers who already have ample space, adding some pumpkins into your rotation might not be a bad idea.Pumpkin farming is a great way to diversify your crop offerings .Since pumpkins are relatively low maintenance and just require a lot of space, they are easy to add to your crop formation.Or, you can create a fall festival atmosphere by adding in weekend hayrides and petting farms to bring in locals.A lot of farmers will sell to local wholesalers and markets, as well.For some farmers, adding pumpkins to the mix might be worthwhile—and if you're just an interested consumer, now you know exactly how a pumpkin goes from a field to your front stoop.Liz Froment is a content marketing writer and strategist with a focus towards insurance, real estate and finance. .
Here's how giant pumpkins get so big
The huge ones you might see at your local fall fair are Atlantic giant pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima).One grower in Germany set the record for the world’s heaviest in 2016 with a squash that tipped the scales at 1,190.49 kilograms (2,624.6 pounds).Xylems are vessels that transport water from roots to a plant’s stems, fruits and leaves.A typical giant pumpkin grows from seed to huge orange squash in only 120 to 160 days.Savage took a close look at the stems, leaves and pumpkins and then compared them to those from other large squashes.Extra xylem and phloem help the stem pump more food and water into the fruit, leaving less for the rest of the plant.Savage and her colleagues shared their findings five years ago in the journal Plant, Cell & Environment.The giant pumpkins in competition don’t have the nice round shape you’d expect.In this model, Hu and his colleagues showed how a pumpkin is expected to collapse and flatten as it gets bigger.Even if growers were to double the current weight of giant pumpkins, those fruits would just get flat.If you could grow a pumpkin in outer space or under water, it’s height would no longer be a problem, Hu notes.“Ultimately all the [flattening] forces are due to [Earth’s] gravity.” Hu and his colleagues published their results in 2011 in the International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics.But while a pumpkin carriage might not be a realistic way to travel, Savage notes that Cinderella might have had other options.In fact, there’s a yearly boat race in Windsor, Canada, open to giant pumpkins only.So if the prince’s castle has a moat, Cinderella might be able to make a grand entrance from a pumpkin after all. .
How to grow pumpkins – a step by step guide
From that rich, orange hue to its pride-of-place at not one but two massive holiday events, there’s not a single fruit or veg that owns its season like the pumpkin.Family trips to the pumpkin patch are some of the best memories you can create with your kids, but if you want to make your Halloween carving or thanksgiving pie that extra bit special, we would certainly recommend growing your own.Plus, you can keep them for months after harvest, ensuring a ready supply of pumpkin meat through the winter for you to enjoy.Little Gems, Buffy Ball, and Hooligan pumpkin seeds are the best options for small gardens as they spread less and produce smaller fruit.Use a 9cm pot per seed to begin with to allow plenty of space to grow, explains Matthew Oliver, a horticulturist at RHS Garden Hyde Hall (opens in new tab).Consider using a compost that contains grit or perlite, a natural volcanic rock, that helps the soil absorb and hold vast amounts of air and moisture.‘It will help open the compost as the seed is liable to rot if sown in cold and damp conditions,’ notes Oliver.As they grow you may need to raise the pumpkins off the ground to prevent damage or rotting, says Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies Garden Centres (opens in new tab).‘They are hungry and thirsty plants so regular high potassium liquid feeds throughout the season,’ advises Oliver.‘Powdery mildew can be a problem late in the season, especially in dry years, so removing infected leaves as they appear or weekly foliar sprays of liquid seaweed or SB Plant invigorator can keep the plants healthy and growing for longer into the autumn.’.They should be bright orange in colour, the stems and vine dried out and starting to wither, and the shell hard.Grab a pair of shears and cut the stem, leaving a couple of inches left on the pumpkin. .