Growing Organic Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a warm season crop and need good soil, lots of sun and plenty of room to grow. Soil should be fertile, aerated and warm enough for growing in temperatures of 65°-75°.

Starting Seeds for Transplants
Seeds can be started indoors one month before the last frost in peat pots by sowing 3-seeds per pot, later thinning to one plant per pot once seedlings are established. Seeds germinate in soil 70°-95° and take 6-10 days to germination. Starters can be transplanted directly into the garden when soil temperature reaches 70°.

Soil Preparation
Mix compost or well-rotted manure into the bed to ensure plenty of nutrients. Pumpkins are moderately tolerant of acid soils and prefer a pH range 6.0-6.8.

Sow seeds after danger of frost and when soil temperatures are between 70°-90°. Sow seeds into Hills of 4-5 seeds per hill 1” deep and 3’ apart. If planting in Rows, sow 2-3 seeds 1″ deep every 12″-18″ in Rows 4′ apart. Later thin seed sprouts.

If space constraints, grow pumpkins in a corner of garden and train vines to grow outside the garden. Pumpkin vines are huge and can take up most of a garden if not careful.

Water regularly throughout the growing season keeping plants evenly moist and water deeply during dry spells. Early morning watering helps prevent mildew.

Pumpkin plants produce a profusion of flowers throughout the life of the plant. Usually about 2 pumpkins per vine can be expected. All pumpkins produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant for natural pollination.

Harvest mature pumpkins when the stems connecting the pumpkin to the vine begin to shrivel, when they are a deep solid orange color, and when the rind is hard. If pumpkin vines remain healthy, harvest pumpkins in late September or early October before heavy frosts.

Pumpkins will keep for 2-3 months in temperatures of 50° to 55° with relative humidity of 50%-75%. Cure the pumpkins for several days in sunlight before storing them, bringing them in at night if frost is predicted.