Pumpkins are generally planted the middle of June if you are looking for fall decorations, but be sure to look at the days of maturity. It’s always good to plant a diverse group of pumpkins so that you can have that fresh pumpkin pie in the fall also. Some pumpkins are more ornamental instead of being edible and they don’t have the high amount of flesh inside the pumpkin. They can range anywhere from an ounce to hundreds of pounds, so be sure to select the cultivar that would work best for you and your planting area. One thing that most pumpkins need is room. The vines can grow up to 15 feet, so be sure to have the space they need.
The first step in planting pumpkins is making sure you are planting them at the right time and correctly. Most pumpkins can become mature in around 95 days, but others can take up to 120 days. It’s best to determine when you want your pumpkins harvested and count the maturity days backward on the calendar. When planting seeds, they need to be sown 1 inch to 1.5 inches deep and spaced anywhere from 4 to 6 feet apart.
The second step is to select the correct cultivars. Pumpkins can have quite a few disease problems in Tennessee due to our heat and humidity and many of the newer cultivars have disease resistance in them. Recommended cultivars for Tennessee are Baby Bear, Moonshine, Lil’ Pump-kee-mon, Cargo, Racer Plus, and Triamble.
The third step in producing quality pumpkins is to perform the right growing recommendations. Pumpkins can quickly succumb to powdery mildew and they do not like overhead irrigation from a sprinkler. They need to be watered at the base of the plant where water will not stay on the leaves. Be sure to also keep the weeds down because some insects can harbor themselves on the weeds amongst the pumpkins.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any horticulture facet, feel free to contact Lucas Holman, Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent, Wilson County at 615-444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.