Are you thinking about pumpkin growing but you are not sure of how to go about it? I have done in-depth research on this and I have all the answers for you.
In this post, you will learn everything important about the three crucial pumpkin growing stages. By the end of the post, you will be an expert on growing pumpkins. You will know what you need to do and at what stage so as to have a bountiful pumpkin harvest.
There are different varieties of pumpkins that you can grow. Some varieties are grown for size and carving, while other varieties are grown for eating. The most popular variety grown for size and carving is the Jack O’ Lantern variety, while the most popular variety grown for eating is the delicious Dickinson pumpkin variety.
Pumpkins are native to North America and can grow very well in many places across the United States. Most pumpkins require a long grown season of between 75 and 100 days to mature. For this reason, they are usually planted in late May or early June.
The most important thing you need to know before you grow pumpkins is that they are tender vines/plants. Therefore, they require proper handling to grow and yield a good harvest.
Pumpkin Growing Stages
There are three key pumpkin growing stages.
1. The Seed Starting Stage
The best and most fulfilling way to grow pumpkins is by using seeds. Pumpkin seeds are pale, flat, and triangular. So when you buy pumpkin seeds to grow and they look depressing and unviable, you should not be surprised. If you start them correctly, they will grow into strong vines that will produce big and fleshy pumpkins.
If you live in a region with a long growing season, you should start your pumpkin seeds in the ground. You should do this about two weeks after the last frost date. If you do it earlier before the risk of frost is gone, your seedlings could be exposed to frost and this could lead to rotting or damage that cannot be repaired.
Pumpkin seeds start best when the soil temperature is above 75 degrees F. For this reason, people usually construct raised beds to start their pumpkins. This is because the soil in raised beds usually warms quickly after the last frost attaining the perfect temperature for starting pumpkin seeds faster than the ground soil. Moreover, raised beds are also preferred for starting pumpkins because they normally have more efficient drainage and fewer pest issues.
To start seeds in a raised bed, you need to construct a raised bed, line it with a weed barrier, and add a mix of potting soil and compost. Once you do this, you should sow three seeds per one-inch deep hole and space the holes about five feet apart. You should then water them daily.
If you do the above, your pumpkin seeds will sprout in less than ten days. The number of days it will take will depend on the temperature of the soil.
If you live in a region with a short growing season, you should start your pumpkin seeds indoors about three weeks prior to the last announced frost date. You should start them in a seed starting tray. There are many good guides on how to start seeds on YouTube. Make sure you check them out.
Once there is no longer the possibility that it will frost again, you should start hardening your pumpkin seedlings by taking them out for thirty minutes the first day and then for thirty more minutes each subsequent day. When you reach ten hours, your seedlings will be ready to be transplanted to the ground.
You can transplant them to a raised bed or a ground that you have prepared by loosening the topsoil and adding potting soil and compost.
2. The Seedlings & Growth Stage
This is the second stage. It is characterized by first growths aka sprouts. Sprouts are small stems with 2 leaves on them. The leaves are often round in shape. After the sprouts emerge, it often takes about seven days before they develop real leaves. Real leaves are different from first growth leaves in the sense that they are greener and have jagged edges. They typically grow from the center of the sprouts. When real leaves develop, the sprouts can be considered seedlings.
When the seedlings get to about three inches in height, they usually start developing vines. The vines often develop quite fast. Sometimes, they can grow as fast as 5 or more inches daily. As your pumpkin vines continue growing, they will develop both female and male flowers.
With time, the hope is that pollinators such as bees will start transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers for fertilization to take place and pumpkins to start developing.
If there are not many pollinators in your area, you should try to attract them or do manual pollination of the female flowers using the male flowers.
You will know pollination is happening naturally in your garden if the round green ball underneath female flowers starts getting big.
Once your pumpkin seeds have sprouted, you should water them regularly. To make sure your pumpkin vines are getting enough water, you should water them as soon as the first three inches of the topsoil have dried out. If you do this, you will most likely need to water your pumpkins about twice or thrice weekly. When watering, remember not to get your pumpkin leaves or fruits wet as this can cause rot.
Many people usually add mulch around the base of their pumpkin vines. This helps to reduce moisture loss due to evaporation.
One of the most important things you need to do in this pumpkin growing stage is to be very careful with your pumpkin vines. This is because they are delicate. So avoid damaging them because if you do, it will affect their yield and the quality of pumpkins produced.
It is also important to feed your pumpkins using fertilizer. The best fertilizer to use is one that has a lot of nitrogen in it. You should start feeding your pumpkin vines when they are about 1-foot in height. This will ensure they grow quickly. When your vines start blooming, you should use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus.
When pumpkins start growing, you should use manure alone. This will ensure your vines have every nutrient they need to develop further and mature.
When fruits start growing rapidly, you should prune back the vines to ensure they focus on growing the fruits. As the fruits develop, you will need to turn them periodically without damaging the vines. This will help you avoid fruit rot and/or flat spots on fruits.
3. The Harvesting Stage
This is the last stage. At this stage, all that is left to do is to let your pumpkins mature and then harvest them. Many times people harvest their pumpkins before they are ripe and mature.
You can avoid harvesting your pumpkin while they are still unripe by waiting for the vines to start to die. When your vines start dying, this is a clear indication that they have served their purpose and that your pumpkins are ripe and ready to be harvested.
You can also tap the hard rind of your pumpkins to check if they sound hollow. If they do, then your pumpkins are ready to harvest. Remember, pumpkins (even on the same vine) often do not get ripe at the same time. Therefore, you should check each pumpkin individually and harvest it if you are confident that it is ready. Do not just check one or a few and then harvest everything at the same time.
After detaching pumpkins from their vines, you should leave them in the sun for five or seven days to cure. You should store them in a place that is dry and cool. Pumpkins that are properly stored can last for weeks.
The Final Word
Whether you want to grow pumpkins to eat them or to carve them, you now know how to go about it. The most important thing to remember about growing pumpkins is that you should handle them with care since they are tender plants. If you do this, the quantity and quality of your harvest will be impressive. If you do not, your harvest will be poor or you may never even get to the point of harvesting anything.