Have you ever wanted to grow your own pumpkins in time for Halloween festivities or Thanksgiving desserts? It might be easier than you think!
While pumpkins grow quickly, the fruit still takes several months to mature. Planting several seeds per hole in your garden will guarantee you don’t waste any time waiting for duds to germinate in the spring.
As far as how many pumpkin seeds per hole you should plant, most gardeners recommend planting at least 2 per hole.
Yes, pumpkin plants require a lot of space. If you can meet this need, however, they are remarkably simple to grow.
Squash Vs. Pumpkins
“Squash” and “pumpkin” are not interchangeable. This is because all pumpkins are squash but not all squash are pumpkins!
To put it simply, a pumpkin is a type of squash — winter squash, to be exact.
Pumpkins are loosely defined as winter squash with hard, woody stems. Meanwhile, other squash varieties have soft or hollow stems.
Semantics aside, there’s little difference in growing a pumpkin from seed versus a squash. The one thing you should keep in mind is that most pumpkins take up more space than other squash varieties (and the seeds should be sown accordingly).
Types Of Pumpkins
You shouldn’t just plant any old pumpkin seeds (unless you don’t care at all what type of pumpkin appears in your garden).
All pumpkins are technically edible. However, there are many varieties that are unappetizing at best.
If you want to grow pumpkins for use in the kitchen, opt for a “sugar” or “pie” variety.
Of course, pumpkins aren’t just grown for eating. Some varieties are advertised specifically for carving. Others are grown because they boast interesting shapes, colors, and textures.
Always ask yourself what you plan to do with your pumpkin harvest and select seeds based on those goals!
How To Start Pumpkins From Seed
Pumpkins need plenty of sun and lots of room to sprawl! These are the two most important factors to consider when choosing a spot to sow pumpkin seeds.
Select a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Standard pumpkin varieties need between 50 and 100 square feet at a minimum. A good strategy is to plant pumpkins along the edge of your vegetable patch and direct the vines to grow outward.
Pumpkin plants consume a ton of nutrients in order to support their massive size. Aged compost (or another rich, organic fertilizer) should always be distributed into the soil prior to planting pumpkin seeds.
Although pumpkins love moisture, well-draining soil is still a must. Incorporating compost into your garden bed will also improve overall drainage.
Many gardeners opt to grow pumpkins on small dirt hills. This technique improves drainage and raises the soil temperature around the pumpkins’ roots.
The recommended size for pumpkin hills is at least 6 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Loosen the soil directly below each hill (at least 1 foot deep) to improve drainage and root health.
Don’t be fooled by the pumpkin’s winter squash classification. Pumpkin plants (and their seeds) do not tolerate frost or excessively cold temperatures.
Ensure the soil temperature is above 65°F before sowing pumpkin seeds in the garden. A soil temperature of at least 70°F will improve germination.
Row covers can be used to protect young pumpkin plants from unseasonably cold temperatures, especially at night.
To grow pumpkins in hills: Create up to 3 holes at least 12 inches apart. Plant at least 2 seeds per hole. Each hill should contain at least 5 seeds.
The hills themselves should be spaced 4 to 8 feet apart.
When the seedlings reach at least 2 inches in height, thin out the pumpkin plants so that there are 2 or 3 left per hill.
To grow pumpkins in rows: Sow seeds in holes 6 to 12 inches apart. Plant at least 2 seeds per hole.
When planting pumpkins, rows should be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
Once the seedlings emerge, thin the plants to be at least 18 inches apart.
Plant pumpkin seeds in holes 1 to 1½ inch deep.
Can You Start Pumpkin Seeds Indoors?
Pumpkins require a fairly long growing season to mature on the vine. Gardeners living in colder climates can ensure a healthy harvest by starting pumpkin seeds indoors in early spring!
You can sow pumpkin seeds indoors several weeks before your area’s last frost date.
Pumpkin seeds can be started in traditional plastic trays or peat pots to minimize root damage during transplanting.
Plant 2 pumpkin seeds per hole when starting seeds indoors. If both seeds germinate, snip the weaker one at the base once the seedlings are between 2 and 3 inches tall.
Transplanting Pumpkin Seedlings To The Garden
Do not transition pumpkin seedlings outside until all risk of frost has passed. The soil temperature should be at least 70°F before transplanting.
To prevent transplant shock, harden off your pumpkin seedlings before planting them in the garden.
Hardening off involves placing seedlings outdoors in a warm, shaded location during the day. The seedlings should be brought indoors each night.
For the best results, slowly move the seedlings further into the sun each day.
Repeat this process for 2 weeks before permanently moving your pumpkins to the garden.
How To Harvest Pumpkin Seeds For Future Planting
Pumpkin seeds are super easy to harvest and store for future years!
Collect pumpkin seeds by cutting off the top of the pumpkin and scooping out the pulp and seeds inside. Place seeds in a colander and thoroughly rinse to remove all pulp.
Pumpkins produce tons of seeds. Since there’s very little chance you’ll use all of the seeds in a single pumpkin, be sure to sort through and select the best-looking seeds to save.
Larger seeds tend to have better germination rates. A good rule of thumb is to save approximately 3 times the number of pumpkins you want to grow next year.
Some pumpkins have hull-less seeds that are perfect for roasting. If collecting seeds from one of these varieties, consider setting aside any extra seeds as a snack!
Storing Pumpkin Seeds
After rinsing, set all of the seeds you intend to save out to dry for 1 week.
The best place to store pumpkin seeds is the refrigerator. However, any cool and dry spot will work. Place seeds in a paper envelope in a ventilated container to prevent condensation.
With proper storage, most pumpkin seeds remain viable for at least 4 years.
How Many Pumpkin Seeds Per Hole Should You Plant – Final Thoughts
From pies to Jack-o’-lanterns, there are many reasons to grow pumpkins in the home garden.
Pumpkins grow best when sown early and planted in mounded dirt hills. To ensure all of your hard work comes to fruition later in the season, be sure to plant at least 2 seeds per hole in spring.
As long as you have the space to spare, little is stopping you from growing your own pumpkins this year!