How to Grow Pumpkins for Fun and Profit

Learn how to grow pumpkins for pie making and to sell for Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns to generate extra cash from the garden.

| September/October 1972

  • pumpkin kittens
    Medium to medium-large pumpkins sell best for jack-o-lantern use. 
    Photo by Jack Roland Coggins
  • tilling pumpkin
    Rich, moist soil with a high humus content is well-suited to growing pumpkins. 
    Photo by Jack Roland Coggins
  • planting pumpkins
    Pumpkin plants may be started indoors in peat pots or other plantable containers. This prevents root disturbance when transplanting your pumpkin seedlings outdoors. 
    Photo by Jack Roland Coggins

  • pumpkin kittens
  • tilling pumpkin
  • planting pumpkins

Pumpkins are for laughter — for Jack-O-Lanterns and Halloween — during the cool, overcast days of autumn. 

Pumpkins are for pies . . . all winter long.

And pumpkins are for extra cash: their sales bring in dollars when most other money crops are gone. A fellow homesteader put it this way: "Pumpkins are our ace-in-the-hole for raising Christmas dollars. Ole Jack brings in extra funds just in time to take advantage of the countless pre-holiday sales." T he big, beautiful, bright orange fruit is easy to grow, too. It needs about 120 days to reach maturity so, in most areas, plantings around May 20th will bring in crops during late September . . . before damaging frosts and just in time for Halloween.

Planting Pumpkins

Gardeners in areas where the growing season is very short should start seeds indoors three to four weeks before the weather's right for outdoor planting. Roots must not be disturbed so be sure to start your pumpkins in containers that can be set directly in the ground . . . peat pots or peat pellets, for example.

When seeding pumpkins outdoors, don't tire yourself by spading up every square foot of soil. Only the area where the roots will grow needs special preparation. Simply turning the earth in hills about two feet in diameter and spaced three feet apart should be quite sufficient, although I find that digging lots of manure or compost into each mound definitely helps produce larger, more perfect specimens for the Halloween market.

When I seed pumpkins with other crops, I leave a three-foot, plowed and implanted border for my future Jack-O-Lanterns and pies. Once I've planted the fruit every three feet down the strip, the rangy vines usually spread out from the ribbon of tilled soil and deposit their bright orange treasures—high and dry—on the adjoining unplowed ground. Pumpkin vines, you'll find, wander happily over rocky terrain, across lawns and even through weeds.


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