Pumpkin Growing Guide
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What Are Pumpkins?

Pumpkins are a type of winter squash that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family. Pumpkins come in a variety of sizes, from small pie pumpkins to giant varieties that can weigh over 1,000 pounds. Their distinctive round shape and ribbed exterior make them a unique and recognizable vegetable. While orange is the color most often attributed to pumpkins, they actually come in a bunch of colors like yellow, green, and white. Pumpkins are known for their versatility in cooking and are often used to make soups, pies, breads, and other desserts. They are also popular as a decorative item during the fall season, often carved into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween or used as centerpieces for Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, and potassium, and can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation.

How to Start Growing Pumpkin

Pumpkins need plenty of space and sunlight to grow. Amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to improve fertility and drainage. Plant pumpkin seeds directly in the soil after the last frost date in your area. Pumpkins can be planted directly in the soil or started indoors and then transplanted. If starting indoors, plant the seeds about three weeks before the last frost date in your area. Transplant the seedlings to the garden when they are about three weeks old. Water the seeds immediately after planting and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Once the plants are established, water deeply once a week or more if the soil is dry.

Did you know?

The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed in at 2,624.6 pounds (1,190.5 kg)! This massive pumpkin was grown by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium and set the world record in 2016. To put that into perspective, that’s about the weight of a small car!

Our Pumpkin Varieties

Pumpkin Plant Spacing

Generally speaking, pepo pumpkins are better to grow in raised beds than maxima or moschata pumpkins due to their bushing growth habits and smaller-sized fruits.

Pepo In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 3 to 4 feet

Plant Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Planting Depth - 1/2 inch

Pepo Raised Bed

Row Spacing - 2 feet

Plant Spacing - 18 to 24 inches

Planting Depth - 1/2 inch

Large Pumpkins In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 5 to 6 feet

Plant Spacing - 24 to 28 inches

Planting Depth - 1/2 inch

Seminole Pumpkin

Pumpkin Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements To Grow Pumpkin

  • Well-draining, high phosphorous soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 6.5
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Pumpkin Irrigation Requirements

Pumpkin plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed & Container Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 7 Days (After 3rd Week Planting)

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe All Purpose and 1 tablet of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Rotate Every 7 Days After Vines Begin to Run

Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium Calcium Nitrate -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Pumpkin Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Leaf Miners, Armyworms, Mealy Bugs

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Squash Bugs (Nymphs), Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Beetle Larvae, Leaf Miners

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Cucumber Beetles, Thrips, Mites, Armyworms

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Army Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Mites, Squash Bugs (Nymphs), Vine Borer (Nymphs)

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms

Neem Oil
Whiteflies, Aphids

Non-Organic

Bug buster II
Aphids, Squash Bugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips, Leaf Miner, Vine Borer, Cucumber Beetle, Armyworms

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Non-Organic

Liquid Copper Fungicide
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Spot

Garden Phos
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew; Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight

Fungi Max
Powdery Mildew

Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew; Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight, Cercospora Leaf Spot

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Choosing Resilient Varieties

Pest and disease resistance is an important part of choosing which pumpkins to grow. Pumpkins are susceptible to pests and diseases that some varieties are less likely to face.

Moschata varieties tend to be naturally more resistant to squash bugs and vine borers than maxima or pepo varieties. Squash bugs tend to target young, immature plants, and they need treatment as soon as the issue is spotted as adults are very hard to kill off. Controls for squash bugs need to be sprayed on the undersides of leaves as that is where the nymphs reside. Vine borers, on the other hand, work their way into the stems of the plants. Vine borers are also difficult to get rid of past the larval stage. Controls will need to be applied around the stems.

As diseases are concerning and can harm your entire crop, HOSS recommends our pumpkins that are bred to be resistant to these diseases.

Resistant to Powdery Mildew: Cherokee Tan, Seminole, Blue Bayou, Diablo, Super Moon, Half Pint, Mustang PMR, Blaze, Porcelain Doll, Fall Splendor, Camaro PMR, Cinderella’s Carriage, White Flat Boer Ford

Resistant to Downy Mildew: Cherokee Tan, Seminole, Blue Bayou

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Pumpkin

Harvesting and Curing Pumpkin

Pumpkins should be left on the vine until they are fully mature. You can tell if a pumpkin is mature by checking the skin color. A mature pumpkin should have a hard, deep-colored skin. The stem should also be dry and brown. When the pumpkins are mature, use a sharp knife or pruner to cut the stem about 2-3 inches away from the pumpkin. Do not tear or pull the pumpkin off the vine as this can damage the pumpkin. Make sure to leave a bit of stem attached to the pumpkin. This will help the pumpkin last longer and prevent rotting. After harvesting, wipe the pumpkin with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Place the pumpkins in a warm, dry place with good air circulation for about 10 days. This will allow the skin to harden and the pumpkin to dry out. Move the pumpkins to a warm area with a temperature of about 80-85°F (27-29°C). This will help to further harden the skin and prevent rotting. Continue to store the pumpkins in a warm, dry place for an additional 10 days to 2 weeks. This is the curing process that will toughen the skin and improve the pumpkin’s flavor and storage life.

Storing Pumpkins

Store the pumpkins in a single layer in cool, dry place with good ventilation, such as a garage, basement, or pantry. The ideal temperature for storing pumpkins is between about 55°F (10-13°C). Do not store the pumpkins in a pile, as this can lead to rotting. Instead, place them on a flat surface or on shelves, making sure they do not touch each other. Check the pumpkins regularly: Check the pumpkins regularly for any signs of rotting or damage. Remove any pumpkins that are damaged or starting to rot to prevent the spread of rot to other pumpkins. Pumpkin can also be canned. Each family of winter squash has a different shelf life depending on the variety you grow. Knowing their average shelf life will help you plan on which squash to preserve to make them last longer or go ahead and eat. Pepo types store for 2-3 months, Maxima types for 3-4 months, and Moschata types for 4-6 months.

Harvesting & Storing Pumpkin Seeds

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and separate them from the pulp. Rinse the seeds thoroughly in cold water to remove any remaining pulp or debris. Spread the seeds out on a flat surface, such as a baking sheet or paper towel, and allow them to air dry completely for several days. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator to dry the seeds more quickly. Once the seeds are completely dry, store them in an airtight container, such as a glass jar or plastic bag. Make sure the container is completely dry before storing the seeds. Label the container with the type of pumpkin seeds and the date they were harvested. Store the container of pumpkin seeds in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Avoid storing the seeds in a place that is exposed to heat, moisture, or direct sunlight.

Peep at Our Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Growing Tips & Tricks

Health and Wellness Benefits

Pumpkins have amazing vitamins and mineral content that benefits the digestive system. Pumpkin oil has been shown to relieve BPH symptoms, possibly because it improves bladder and urethra function. Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants and healthy fats, which may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. The seeds also contain compounds that may help support prostate health, particularly in men. The fiber and protein in pumpkin seeds may help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote better sleep and relaxation. Also, pumpkin seeds contain immune-boosting nutrients, such as zinc and vitamin E, which can help support a healthy immune system, and they are a good source of magnesium and other bone-healthy nutrients, which can help support strong bones.

Competitive Grower

Pumpkin festivals around the world are known to hold competitions for the heaviest one. Some of our large varieties include the PrizeWinner Giant PumpkinBig Max Pumpkin, and Mammoth Gold Pumpkin. How would you grow one that reaches at least 100 pounds?Keep soil constantly moist but not soggy. Cover your pumpkin with a white sheet to protect it. Mild temperatures are best for growing pumpkins, with daily temps of 90 and nightly temps in the 60 range. Use lots and lots of rich compost and treat with fertilizer as recommended above. Prune your plants so energy is directed toward growing the pumpkin and not the vines. Grow one pumpkin per plant to make sure that the pumpkin gets the maximum amount of energy. To protect your pumpkin from rotting, grow it on sand or on mill fabric, which will ensure that water can drain away. Bury the vines of your pumpkin plant a few inches deep, as this may help with root growth.

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