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Specialty pumpkins

Pumpkins 101

Pumpkin 'Orange Smoothie'

Tips For Growing Pumpkins

Pumpkins are some of the longest tenants in our gardens, requiring up to four months of growth and maturation before harvest. This is a significant commitment of time and garden space, so we’re here to help you harvest a successful crop by All Hallow’s Eve.
Selecting Your Pumpkin Variety
Sow your pumpkin seeds in May or June to have carving-ready pumpkins by Halloween. Larger pumpkins mean fewer per plant. Sometimes, we get big eyes and want the biggest pumpkin available—but typically the larger the pumpkin, the fewer pumpkins that will grow per plant. For activities like crafting fun, carving, or pie-making, choose a variety that has smaller fruit, and you’ll be able to harvest more pumpkins per plant that way.
Crop Rotation, Pests & Disease
Did you have great success with your pumpkin patch last year, but you’re finding this year is less fruitful? Almost all crops benefit from rotation and the pumpkin plant is telling you it needs another spot in the garden. Rotation will also help outsmart disease and insects. Because pumpkins are such slow growers, there is time for problems to develop.

Pumpkins, along with squash and melons, are magnets for powdery mildew. Bonide® Neem Oil® is an ideal solution for this problem as it has been proven to prevent and cure powdery mildew. Neem oil also takes care of many of the soft-bodied insects that favor pumpkins such as aphids, spider mites and whiteflies.

And since we hope to eat and handle these pumpkins, be sure to select organics for disease and insect control, as well as fertilizers.
Feeding & Watering
To feed your pumpkin plant, choose an organic fertilizer and feed once each month. Organic fertilizers ensure the plant itself and the fruit are given a complete and balanced diet in a steady release formula. Synthetic fertilizers tend to favor an abundance of green growth, but not the fruit. But no one wants a 20 foot vine with no pumpkins!

We recommend E.B. Stone™ Organics Tomato & Vegetable Food for long-lasting plant success. Add E.B. Stone™ Organics Ultra Bloom Plant Food to your monthly fertilizing to ensure plenty of flowers and fruit.

Water your pumpkins deeply, but be sure to let the soil dry out a few inches below the soil before watering again. Too much water will make the leaves yellow, then brown and then fall off—just as much as not enough water.

Harvesting

Here are a few general guidelines for harvesting, but they can differ between varieties:
  • Look for hardened rinds that have deep color.
  • If we get a cold snap and the vine dies, harvest the pumpkins and store in a safe spot. Further freezing can be a problem for the pumpkin fruit.
  • Always cut, not pull, the pumpkin from the vine. Keep about three inches of stem with it to avoid creating an opening for bacteria to enter.
Here’s a trick and a treat! Want to name your pumpkin? Try scratching a name onto the rind before it hardens (usually in late August or early September). That scratch will cure and you’ll see it clearer as the pumpkin continues to grow on the vine.

Resources

Veggie Planting Calendar
Keeping Bugs At Bay

For any questions, our in-store gurus are available to help diagnose and treat whatever is going on in your garden.
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