Growing pumpkins in the fall is wonderful way to learn about vegetable gardening. In order to have the pumpkins ready by the fall season, however, you must prepare in advance. With proper care, you'll find the pumpkin to be an easy vegetable to grow. To grow your pumpkin, you'll need to plan your garden, plant your seeds, and properly water and fertilize your garden.
Start by planning your garden. Depending on the variety, pumpkins need anywhere from five to eight feet of room for each plant's vines. Space your rows 10 to 15 feet apart. In other words, prepare a large garden! If you want to harvest pumpkins in the fall, southern gardeners should plant in early July. Northern gardeners must plant their pumpkin seeds in late May.
Use seeds for your pumpkin garden. Wait for two weeks after the last frost has passed before planting the seeds outside. Pumpkins cannot tolerate cold. The soil should be at least 70 degrees and fully workable. Place each seed one inch below the soil's surface, spacing each seed six to 12 inches apart. When the young shoots are two to three inches in height, thin them back so you are growing one plant every 18 to 36 inches. Overcrowding contributes to disease, so keep your plants well-spaced.
Pumpkins love full sun and fertile soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8. The soil should be well-worked and high in organic material. Pumpkins grow shallow roots and need regular watering. However, water in the morning so your plants can dry out prior to sunset. Mulching the base of the plants deters insects and weeds while keeping moisture in the soil. Any invading insects can be easily picked off by hand or sprayed down with water.
The plants will bloom during the summer and bear pumpkins soon after. The pumpkins should possess a deep orange color and a firm rind before you harvest them. When separating from the vine, cut about three inches above the rind for best results.