Linus may have spent his nights waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear, but you don't have to be a Linus, waiting and wishing for that magical pumpkin. You can take action now to grow your own pumpkins. Not only will you have a supply of plump pumpkins just waiting to be carved for Halloween, with a little work--and a bit of luck--you just might hit the jackpot and grow the greatest pumpkin of all.
Select an area that receives full sun. A southern exposure that receives direct sun all afternoon is best.
Till to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and remove any debris, such as rocks and roots. Pumpkins require loose soil.
Test your soil to determine its condition and available nutrients. Contact your extension office and follow the directions for gathering the soil sample. Return the sample to the soil testing office.
Follow the directions for amending the soil included in the soil summary provided by the soil testing service. Adjust pH to 6.0 to 6.5
Select pumpkin seeds with days to maturity (located on the back of the package) that match the number of frost-free days in your area. Read the seed packet carefully and select the type of pumpkin you prefer. For giant pumpkins, choose a variety proven to produce giant pumpkins.
Mound soil into hills approximately 6 to 8 inches high and 3 feet in diameter. Space hills 4 feet apart in rows spaced 8 feet apart.
Sow four or five seeds evenly spaced around the outer edge of the hill. Plant to a depth of 1 inch and cover with soil. Firm the soil down around the seed to remove air pockets and secure the seed.
Water thoroughly to moisten the hill; keep soil moist until seedlings emerge. Reduce watering to once a week when seedlings are established. Water deeply to saturate the soil to the root level.
Sprinkle 5-10-10 fertilizer over the soil about 6 inches from the base of the plant and mix in with the top 2 or 3 inches of soil to sidedress plants. Apply once when pumpkin plants are three weeks old and again at six weeks. Follow the application rate on the container. Use care not to get fertilizer on foliage or contact young roots.
Keep the area weed free by handing pulling weeds when they are young or cutting with the edge of the hoe.