Courtesy of LSU AgCenter
Pumpkins in June? If you want to grow your own jack-o-lantern for Halloween, now is the time to start preparing!
If you look at the giant pumpkin varieties, they might list days to harvest as 120 days. That would mean that you need to plant back in June to be ready for the end of October. A lot of the medium to small varieties have harvest days of 70 to 100 days, which would give you a planting date as early as mid-July.
Pumpkins will need a little room for their vines to grow and spread out. I would recommend that if you are planting on traditional rows that you plant every other row. This will allow enough room for vines to run. Or you can just make your rows 7 to 8 feet apart. Plant seeds in hills of 4-5 seeds per hill and then thin down to 2 to 3 plants per hill after they come up. For vining types of pumpkins plant your hills 4 to 5 feet apart within the row and for semi-vining or bush types plant your hills 3 to 4 feet apart.
Fertilize rows with 6 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row prior to planting. Sidedress with 2 pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row when vines start to run.
Giant pumpkin varieties are ones that win the biggest pumpkin contests and can get to 80+ pounds. Those recommended giant pumpkin varieties are Atlantic Giant, Prize Winner, Big Moon and Big Max.
Pumpkins are mature and ready for harvest when they turn their characteristic color and the rinds are hard to penetrate with your thumbnail. Cut the vines leaving 3 to 5 inches attached to the pumpkin for a stem. Not only does this give you a more attractive pumpkin, but it also helps to give the pumpkin a longer shelf life.
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