Ideas & Inspiration

Tips to Grow and Store Pumpkins

How to Grow Pumpkins
Pumpkins on the vine in a garden
  • Choose a location with plenty of sunlight, at least six to eight hours a day. Though you should follow recommendations on the seed packet, most varieties are planted in hills at least 2 feet apart.
  • Sow seeds in hills 9 to 12 inches tall and a foot across. Keep the top of each hill flat, not mounded, so that water can reach the plants. Seeds will germinate within 10 days.
  • When plants are an inch tall, thin to three plants per hill. When vines are 3 inches high, thin to the strongest plant in each hill.
  • Protect plants with a few inches of organic mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Top dress with organic compost to keep plants healthy and growing.
  • Water frequently. Like most vegetables, count on at least an inch of water a week, and focus the spray on the plant’s roots, or consider drip irrigation or a soaker hose on a timer to regulate watering.
  • Pumpkins are ready to harvest when you scratch the rind with a fingernail and you can’t puncture the skin. Use a knife to cut the pumpkin from the vine, at least 3 inches from the fruit. Pumpkins need to be cured before using or storing.
How to Store Pumpkins
Rinsing a pumpkin in a sink
  • Wash rind with cool, soapy water. Using a soft cloth, wipe each one with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Cure pumpkins for a week either indoors, near a warm, sunny window, in a heated bathroom or on a sun-drenched, south-facing spot on your deck or patio. Curing encourages rinds to harden, which helps them store longer when moved to a cooler place.
  • Store long-term in an unheated basement or cool room where the temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Check every two weeks and immediately cook fruit that is soft or discolored.

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