Whether you want to grow just a few pumpkins for Halloween or you plan on making pies and other dishes with the squash, planting pumpkins in the home garden supplies you with plenty of the fruit. Pumpkins come in many varieties, and not all of them are orange. Yellow and white pumpkins are also available from seed catalogs and as seedlings in nurseries. Plant pumpkins in late May if you live in the north where summers are short or as late as July in southern, hot climates.
Prepare a well-drained bed in full sun after soil temperature reaches at least 70 degrees. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost over the soil and till it in to a 8 inch depth with a power tiller or hoe.
Create hills in the pumpkin bed with the hoe. Pull the soil up on either side of each row into a 4 foot long hill. Leave an 8-foot space between hills.
Plant five seeds per hill, spacing them evenly along the length of the hill. Sow to each seed 1 inch deep and cover with soil, firming it with your hands.
Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Water as needed to maintain moisture until the pumpkins germinate, approximately seven days.
Thin out the plants to the two healthiest on each hill once the third set of leaves form. Pull up the weakest seedlings.
Water as needed during extended dry periods. Keep the area around the pumpkins free of weeds by cultivating the soil around each plant carefully.
Harvest pumpkins once they reach full color and the rind becomes hard. Cut off from the vine using sharp shears, leaving 3 to 4 inches of stem attached to the pumpkin.
Things You Will Need
- Power tiller
- Semi-bush varieties take up less space in the home garden. Vine varieties require 50 square foot hills as the minimum to thrive.
- Store pumpkins in a dry place at 55 degrees.
- Harvest pumpkins before a hard frost, as frost will cause the pumpkin to rot if harvested afterward.
- Cucumber beetles, squash bugs and powdery mildew are the main pests that effect pumpkins. Treat with the specific pesticide if they are detected.
- Apply pesticides only in the evenings after the pumpkin blossoms have closed to avoid poisoning the bees that are necessary for pollination.