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Last year I tried to grow my own pumpkin patch. You caught that, right? Tried.
I had this vision of things going smoothly, my gray thumb not being an issue and come Halloweenie Roast night I’d be treating my guests to a mini pumpkin patch as part of my outdoor decor.
Instead, it ended up going something like this:
In the infamous words of Linus in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”…
UGH, YOU DIDN’T TELL ME YOU WERE GONNA KILL IT!
It might look green and like its hanging on in that photo, but trust me my spooky little friends…my patch was as good as dead in that photo.
My vines withered in the Texas heat – or perhaps from too much shade and not enough water. I was disappointed at the time, but even my little patch had survived to the end of August, Hurricane Harvey surely would have claimed it. And I don’t think FEMA accepts claims for Halloween blogger’s pumpkin patches…
(That’s a joke, for the record. Can we start to laugh about that awful week yet?)
Anyway…you can read the complete adventures from 2017 here:
I might be crazy, but I am giving it another go this year. I haven’t planted yet – seeds are just starting to hit store shelves, so I’m hoping before the end of the month I’ll have my pumpkin patch planted. And this year…I have knowledge on my side! (i.e. everything I did wrong or simply didn’t do last year…)
Here are my best 8 tips for you so you can join me in planting your own backyard pumpkin patch this year too!
How to grow a backyard pumpkin patch:
Tip #1: Buy new seeds
Unless you were super careful about storing any extra seeds from previous purchases, you’re probably better off purchasing new pumpkin seeds this year. Germination rates become lower with older seeds.
Last year I bought three variety of seeds:
Smaller pumpkins, like sugar pies, tend to be easier to grow if you’re totally new and looking for a good place to start.
For the record, if you do hang on to excess seeds, they should be stored in a cool, dry place until the next year.
Tip #2: Plant in late March or April
This will depend on what the climate is like where you live. Pumpkins should be planted after there is no danger of freezing weather.
Tip #3: Pumpkin need good drainage
Pumpkins don’t like to be wet, so you need to make sure the vines won’t be in standing water from heavy rains or watering. Consider planting them in large mounds or in the highest part of your yard.
We made mounds for mine last year, which seemed to work well.
Tip #4: Don’t plant pumpkins in the same spot two years in a row
I’m not a master gardener or a farmer, but I do know that many plants strip the soil of the nutrients they need to grow. If you replant in the same area twice, the second crop will not have sufficient nutrients. This year I’m moving my patch to a more sunny spot in my parents’ backyard.
Tip #5: Give you patch plenty of space to sprawl
Pumpkins are vines, and they like to spread out. The packages of the three varieties I purchased last year advise planting 4-6 seeds in a group about 3 inches apart. Then each grouping of seeds should be 4-6 feet apart from each other.
Tip #5: Thin your plants out after they are 1-2 inches high
No, seriously. Pumpkins need a LOT of space. Early on you’ll want to keep a close eye on your sprouts and begin removing the ones not growing as quickly. If you start with 4-6 sprouts, you’ll want to thin the group to 2-3.
Tip #6: Pull weeds ASAP!
They suck up all the nutrients your pumpkin babies will need to grow. Mulch is a great way to prevent weeds from ever growing.
Tip #7: Water your pumpkins in the morning
Pumpkins need at least 1-2 inches of rainfall per week to grow. You’ll likely need to help them along. Make sure you water at the soil level using low pressure if using a hose or sprayer.
Pumpkins should always be watered in the morning if watered from overhead so the leaves have time to dry. Watering in the evening and keeping leaves moist overnight can lead to disease.
Tip #8: Have fun!
Growing a pumpkin patch does take some work, but it should also be a fun project to get you excited for Halloween! Don’t forget to enjoy the process…even if your patch ends up like mine did last year. 🎃
Looking for even more pumpkin patch tips?
My friends over at Burpee have a fantastic library of resources on their website I’m constantly referring to:
I’m not paid to say that – I just really like their easy-to-understand resources.
Will you be growing a backyard pumpkin patch this year?
I hope you’ll join me! It’s a fun little experiment. If you do, feel free to tag me in your posts so I can keep up with your progress.
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