There is no fall without pumpkins — big kinds, mini kinds, orange kinds, white kinds, carved kinds, and most importantly pie kinds. Although you could load up a wagon at the local pumpkin patch, start a new autumn tradition by growing gourds in your own garden. These hardy crops will flourish just about anywhere with the right care.
Get the full step-by-step guide on growing pumpkins — and all of your most pressing questions answered — below, with insights from Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist at Purdue University.
1. Pick your pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkins come in hundreds of varieties differing in size, color, taste, and texture, so no singular type can claim the title of “best.” From ballooning giants to teeny-tiny gourds, there’s a variety out there for you. Check out some seeds available for online ordering below:
2. Plant the seeds in a full-sun spot.
Pick a day after the last frost to sow seeds directly in the ground. Each seed packet will list how long on average the plant needs to produce full-grown pumpkins (“Days for Maturity”). For example, Small Sugar Pumpkins need 100 days to reach maturity. If you wanted them to ripen about a week before Halloween, then plan on planting them in mid-July.