I would like to grow pumpkins for my grandchildren next year. Are they difficult to grow?
Pumpkins are easy to grow if you have the right type of soil and you give them plenty of moisture. They grow best in a loose, fertile, well-drained soil. Incorporate organic matter into the soil this fall. This will loosen up the soil, provide nutrients, and help with drainage. The moisture needs to be consistent from the time the seeds emerge until the fruits begin to fill out. You do not want the soil to be soggy - that is why well-drained soil is important! Pumpkin vines will spread 8 feet or more, so make sure you have enough room. Even bush varieties that tend to be more compact will spread up to 5 feet. Plant pumpkin seeds about two weeks after the last spring frost when soil temperatures are 70 degrees. Don’t be in a hurry to plant - pumpkins are very sensitive to cold temperatures! Plant varieties that mature in 110 days or less to be sure the crop has enough time to develop. Plant 4 to 5 seeds in a ‘hill’ or mound - this allows the soil to warm up faster. The hills should be 8 feet apart; bush types can be planted 4 feet apart. Thin the hills by snipping off the weakest plants so that only two seedlings are left per hill. Snipping prevents root damage to the remaining seedlings. Once the pumpkins are mature, cut them from the vines leaving a long stem for a handle. For Jack-O-Lanterns, the following varieties are recommended: Autumn Gold, Gold Rush, Howden, Jackpot, and Spooktacular.
Question answered by Sue Gwise, Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County. Contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated October 11, 2019