Whether you’re growing miniature pumpkins for tabletop displays or a beefy fruit for spooky carving, learning how to plant pumpkin seeds will improve your odds of success. It’s also critical to know when to plant pumpkin seeds, especially if you’re aiming for a larger-than-life harvest.
Like all seeds, pumpkin seeds need just a few things to get growing. Soil and water jump-start the process. Light is pivotal once leaves appear. The trickiest part is knowing when to plant pumpkin seeds.
If you’re growing a giant that needs 140-plus days to reach its mammoth size, sow seeds from April 25 to May 15. If you garden where those dates still have a frosty feel, start seeds indoors. Sow traditional field pumpkins or jack o’lanterns into garden soil from May 15 to June 15. For an earlier harvest or perhaps a slightly larger pumpkin, you can start seeds indoors up to two weeks before these dates. Miniature pumpkins don’t need as long a growing season to reach their full potential. Tuck these seeds into garden soil from May 25 to July 1.
Pumpkins dislike cold of any kind, so don’t plant pumpkin seeds directly into garden soil until after all danger of frost is past. It’s a good idea in cooler areas to cover your pumpkin planting spot with black plastic for a few weeks prior to planting. This helps concentrate the sun’s rays to warm soil. At planting time, cut a small X-shaped slit in the plastic and sow seeds through that opening. Watch for seedlings to appear; make sure they’re not hindered by the plastic.
Indoors and out, pumpkin seeds usually germinate within 10 days. If 10 days come and go and you see no signs of growth, consider making a second planting. You can gently try to excavate planted seeds, but if the seed has germinated, you risk damaging emerging roots. In the garden, use a large garden trowel to lift soil gently and inspect it for any sign of the seed or seedling.
The current world record pumpkin title, awarded in 2012, belongs to an orange orb weighing 2,009 pounds. Experts predict that record will hold for years until another perfect pumpkin-growing season arrives! Will you be the next gardener to have the largest pumpkin?
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