If you want to harvest pumpkins in fall, you’ll need to plant them at the right time. Luckily, pumpkin seeds are easy to start indoors up to three weeks before the frost date in your area.
Pumpkins are heavy feeders, so be sure to add plenty of organic matter and complete fertilizer to the soil before planting. They also like a slightly rich, well-drained soil.
Pumpkin seeds need warmth to germinate, so they should be started indoors about a month before planting outdoors. For best results, start them in peat pots and harden off before transplanting to warm, aged manure or compost-enriched soil.
Seeds need to be soaked in water for a few hours before planting to stimulate germination. Soaking in water may also help prevent rust and other common problems that can affect the growth of your pumpkins.
When you’re ready to plant, set seeds in hills or mounds that are 5 feet apart for standard types and 2 feet for miniature varieties. Space the seeds 1 inch deep and plant a maximum of 4-5 seeds per hill.
Pumpkin seeds are a great way to add protein, fiber and antioxidants to your diet. They are also very heart-healthy, as they contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.
In most regions, the best time to sow pumpkin seeds is late May if you live in a cold climate or early July for planting in warm or hot weather (check with your local university coop extension service for an estimate of your frost date). Start seeds indoors two to three weeks before your last spring frost, in four-inch peat pots filled with seed-starting mix.
Once your pumpkin seedlings have germinated, thin them carefully with scissors, removing only the strongest ones to keep their roots healthy and to ensure that the plant puts all its energy into producing the largest and most tasty fruit. Water your plants regularly to encourage a strong, healthy root system.
Pumpkins are water-loving plants that require a minimum of one inch of water each week. During hot, humid summers, apply mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Plant pumpkin seeds in a sunny spot that is well drained but not too sandy. For good results, mix your soil with compost or aged manure prior to planting.
Seeds need 10 days to germinate. If the period elapses without signs of life, re-plant the seeds.
Seeds should be planted about four weeks after the last frost, in warm, soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. If your soil isn’t in this range, amend it by mixing in bone meal or compost. It also helps to add a top dressing of aged manure to your soil after a month or so.
Pumpkin seeds require a lot of nutrients to grow. They need plenty of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to thrive. To get these nutrients, you can use a liquid or granulated fertilizer.
Liquid fertilizer is often preferred by gardeners, because it can be sprayed directly on the vines and then watered in. However, granular fertilizers are better at providing your plants with the necessary nutrients.
You can also make your own fertilizer using seaweed, which contains the right amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Seaweed can be dissolved in water and applied to the soil around your pumpkins.
Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious addition to your diet. They contain essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Saving pumpkin seeds is a great way to save money and help the environment, since many commercial seed companies use harsh chemicals in their cultivation that can contaminate soil, water and ecosystems.
To harvest pumpkin seeds, first cut the pumpkin open and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Rinse the seeds under cold running water to remove any clinging flesh.
Once all of the seeds have been rinsed, space them out on a paper towel so they don’t clump together. Then place them in a cool, dry spot to dry completely.