8 Steps For Growing Your Own Pumpkins This Fall

published Sep 10, 2019
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If you’re interested in improving your gourd game and want to learn how to grow your own pumpkins, you’ve come to the right place. After all, fall is fast-approaching and the pumpkin craze is already beginning, so what better time to take a stab at it than now?

We talked to a few plant experts to get step-by-step instructions on how to start your own pumpkin patch—or at least one. In any case, here are some handy tips for getting the results you want:

1. Give them extra water and nutrients.

They like a lot of water and nutrients in the soil,” Rachel Wohlander, cofounder of Terra Cultura, told Apartment Therapy. Terra Cultura is an art farm in California with a dedicated focus on community, conservation, creativity, and education. Among other things, they grow fruit and vegetables.

2. They want warm and well-drained soil.

“They like warm, well-drained soil, and they need a lot of space,” Wohlander added. You’ll want to make sure the last frost is weeks-gone before planting pumpkins.

3. Seriously, give them space.

Wohlander isn’t the only one who knows this—every successful pumpkin-grower does. Without room to crawl and sprawl, your crop won’t be nearly as fruitful as it could be.

4. That space can be vertical.

Becky Lovasz is a hobbyist gardener who has reliable pay-off with pumpkins, even when growing vertically in New York City. She had this advice to impart: “I grow my pumpkins vertically when I can. You need a fence or a very sturdy trellis to support the weight of the heavy fruits. Each time you tend your garden, gently weave the new growth through the fence or trellis to encourage it upwards. As the pumpkin fruits develop, the vines will grow strong enough to hold the fruit.” Lovasz said that growing your pumpkins vertically can both save ground space and prevent disease like rotting or mildew on the leaves.

5. Ground rot can be avoided with an extra step.

Speaking of rot, hobbyist gardener Beth Whitney advised the following for ground rot: “Prevent ground rot with cardboard and quarter turns. Put a piece of wood or cardboard under the pumpkin and turn it slightly and often.”

6. Don’t bother their vines.

“Pumpkin vines love to be left alone, so plan accordingly. Give them plenty of space between each other and decide early if you want to trellis the vine, because if you change your mind, you’ll have to disturb the plant late into its growth,” said Whitney.

7. Start them outside.

“Pumpkins (and many other squash plants) don’t like to have their roots disrupted by transplanting, so I don’t start them indoors like other plants,” Lovasz told AT. 

8. Let there be light.

“Pumpkins love bright sunlight,” Lovasz shared. If you don’t have a ton of sunny ground to spare, her vertical tips might be handy!

Other pumpkin-growing tips:

  • Compost and manure will help if you can plant them into your pumpkin hills. The seeds should be about one-inch deep into the hill and you should plant four or five seeds per hill. Make sure to space the hills four to eight feet apart from one another. 
  • Trim the plants on each hill down to two or three once the plants are a few inches tall. 
  • Although pumpkins require a ton of water, be careful to not get the fruit or foliage soaked unless the day is sunny. 
  • If you surround your pumpkins with mulch, it will help to protect them from pests and weeds while drawing in moisture.