How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Pumpkins in Texas

Pumpkins are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and most prolific in gardening. Even if you are planning your first garden, your harvest may be the envy of your neighbors with a few Pumpkins seeds and sunny summer weather. Growing a bountiful harvest of summer and winter squash or other types of Pumpkins is very simple and you will have plenty of pumpkins to share.

Plan your pumpkin growing

Pumpkins don't need a lot of prep work. They generally do not tolerate cold soil or air or frost, and their roots do not do well when transplanted 1 . This is all good for you as you will be able to sow pumpkin seeds in late spring, after the soil has warmed up, and sow your seeds directly into garden soil that receives all the sunlight. There is no need to start sowing seeds early indoors or buy pre-seeded plants from a plant store.

Learn more : Over the past year over 13,200 families have also already successfully used the very same technique

Don't sow pumpkin seeds until at least two weeks after the last expected frost has passed through your region. If you are not sure when that will occur, your county extension agent can help you. When it is time to sow, it would be good to do "successive sowings." By sowing the seeds every two to three weeks until midsummer, you can maintain a steady pumpkin crop until the freezing winter. Successive harvests also help improve pollination, and that means bigger and more abundant harvests for you.

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Choose the varieties of pumpkins you want to grow

When you plant pumpkin seeds or other plants, you are not limited to the varieties available from your local store, as this gives you a large number of pumpkin varieties to enjoy. Choose from traditional types seeded for generations, like the dense, nutty Italian Costata Romanesco Pumpkins or try the sweet yellow Patisson squash. You may want a newer variety that is resistant to disease and pests, and when sowing seeds, you have a choice.

Pumpkins are summer or winter, depending on when they are ready to eat. Soft-skinned summer Pumpkins, mature quickly and are often ready to eat within the first two months after planting. Winter Pumpkins, such as Des Moines Pumpkins or Pumpkins, take at least three months or more to mature and develop thick skin. But if they have thick skin, they also last longer. The seed packages include this information.

Like cucumbers ,pumpkins varieties are shrub or vine varieties. If your garden is small, bush varieties are an excellent choice. But if you definitely want a vine squash, grow your pumpkins vertically on a trellis. Simply secure the vines with soft rope as they grow and give the squash extra support as needed. Many types of summer and winter squash grow well in large planters , and even on urban balconies or patios.

Scalloped patty pan squash are treats for eyes and taste buds.

Patisson squash is a delight for the eyes and your mouth.

Take care of your pumpkin plants

Pumpkins need a lot of nutrients and benefit from a lot of organic matter in the soil and fertilizers specially designed for vegetable gardens. A plant nutrient with added calcium feeds your pumpkins and helps protect them against a disease called blossom end rot. Nourish your pumpkin plants when they start to bloom and again when they start to bear fruit.

It is very important to water the pumpkin plants, especially once the small zucchini begin to form. Make sure they get at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) of rain or irrigation water a week. Water them early in the morning and avoid watering them from above. Keep the leaves as dry as possible to prevent fungal diseases in the garden If common diseases such as powdery mildew and mildew occur, apply an effective and proven treatment , which you can use on pumpkins until harvest day.

When your pumpkin plants start to grow, be on the lookout for snails and slugs . These pesky mollusks like to feed on young, tender fruits and leaves. Visible signs include traces of mucus and holes in the leaves and fruits of the pumpkin.

Watch for signs of insect pests, including eggs on the undersides of pumpkin leaves. Pests on squash are often most damaging in the spring, so your first crops are the most vulnerable. Check the plants constantly to avoid attack by pests such as the pumpkins bug or the cucumber beetle. 

Pumpkins have long taproots, but the rest of their roots are short. 1 A 3-4 inch (7.62 cm to 10.16 cm) layer of organic mulch, such as compost, helps retain moisture in the soil, protect short roots, and prevent soil and water from splashing upwards. Plus, it reduces weeds, which compete with pumpkins for water and nutrients, so you have less weeds to remove.

Edible squash flowers are a garden-to-table bonus.

The edible flowers of the pumpkin are an additional element of the garden to the table.

Help pollinate your plants

Pumpkin plants depend on insects to pollinate the flowers that produce their crops. Without good pollination, the fruits are small, withered, or misshapen. You can help nature pollinate squash blossoms by doing it yourself. Pollination by hand ensures that the job is done right and is a lot of fun for adults and children, but don't be surprised if you find pumpkin bees sleeping inside the flowers.

Pumpkins have separate male and female flowers that are easy to tell apart. Male flowers have long, thin stems, while females have thick stems with a bulge below the petals, and that bulge is what will become your pumpkin. Cut the male flower with its stem and gently remove the petals. Leave the pollen-covered center intact. Use the stem with the pollen as a painter's brush to paint the center of the female flower well with the pollen. Once you are done, you will officially be a pollinator. 2

Male squash flowers have long slender stems;  female flowers connect to tiny squash.

Male squash blossoms have long, thin stems, and female blossoms are attached to zucchini.

Harvest and enjoy your pumpkins

You can start enjoying your pumpkin crop before the fruits appear. Chefs like squash blossoms for their color and mild pumpkin flavor, and they use them in many ways. Cut the flowers and leave a short stem so that the flower remains whole. Look for the male flowers and not the females that are the ones that produce the fruits. You can sauté, stuff, or fry the squash blossoms or chop them and use them in soups, salads, and pasta.

Learn more : Over the past year over 13,200 families have also already successfully used the very same technique

Harvest and eat summer squash at any stage, even when they are tiny and still attached to the flower. Harvest them regularly and don't let them get too tall, as they taste best when young and tender. Fresh summer squash can keep one to two weeks in the refrigerator. Harvest winter squash during fall when their colors intensify and their skins harden. Store them in a cool, dark place to last for several months through the winter.