DIY Pumpkin Patch - Grow Your Own
If you've been following me on Instagram for at least the last month, you've seen that I'm currently working on two different pumpkin patches! I have one at my moms (the first picture below - it's absolutely THRIVING) and then one at our new house (it's about a month behind, so it's still a work in progress, but coming along).
At my mom's patch, I just picked my first pumpkin - more on that at the end of this post. I posted the full experience in my highlights... but I totally freaked out. If you can't tell in these first few sentences... Fall is my absolute favorite season, and pumpkins are one of my absolute favorite bi-products of fall. *Cue all the pumpkin and falling leave emojis*
Anyways, I'm excited to share how my pumpkin patch story started (on accident, as apparently some of the best things happen that way) and how you can start one, too!
So before we dig into how to grow... I thought I'd give a little back story.
Once upon a time...
Okay, I'm just kidding. But it was two winters ago (2016), I had purchased some small pumpkins (like the caspertia or jill-be-little mentioned below) and when they started to rot, I dumped them on the ground thinking they would be good compost for the soil. To be honest, I didn't think twice about it after that!
Well fast forward a few months later, and I found out there was a vine! I started watering it, the vine grew, and it ended up producing about 10-15 white and orange (separate colors, not swirled) pumpkins!!! I totally freaked out! I have a deep love for pumpkins and pretty much anything that has to do with fall, so this was a dream come true for me. Plus, I previously had a pretty black thumb - I mean I killed succulents, and you'd think as an Arizona-born, California native, I'd at least be able to keep a succulent alive. But nope. So the enthusiasm for the fact that I had somehow accidentally grown one of my favorite things? Just short of a miracle.
Anyways, let's fast forward to last fall (2017). I knew I wanted to give it another go at this pumpkin growing thing, and using that as an excuse, I convinced my husband we needed to buy a TON of pumpkins when we were in Nashville (they have the best prices on all the exotic pumpkins at the downtown Farmer's Market - highly recommend). We bought a ton and ended up with this photo (one of my faves - still makes me laugh).
Total side note: but one of the things I love about pumpkins is the variety! This might sound cheesy, but it kind of reminds me of humans. There are different "types" that have a similar look to them, but no two pumpkins are a like. What I also love about pumpkins is the orange one below, covered in bumps, is a beautiful pumpkin and one I paid top dollar for! Now if only we could look at what we would consider "imperfections" in humans, as a "top-dollar" quality.
Okay, I know I don't need to get philosophical on y'all, comparing people and pumpkins, but I am just so amazed at God's creativity and the beauty and variety he's created on this earth. Humans and pumpkins alike ;)
Back to our story...
we put the pumpkins out on the porch, and enjoyed them all fall long. I took tons of product photos (a few of my faves below) and really enjoy the pumpkins. They made me smile every time I left the house (which was everyday for work at Chick-fil-A).
In all honesty, these pumpkins lasted WELL into January/February before they started rotting.. And again, as a pumpkin lover, I didn't mind one bit! I even had one of the fairytale pumpkins that I had in our room last until May (it's one that we ended up splitting open and planting in our backyard - definitely hoping some pop up).
Fair warning: pumpkins smells pretty bad when they rot, so I would just recommend giving them a gentle squeeze every few weeks to see if they get soft. Once they do you, you can take them outside! ;)
Side note: I came out with this Grateful Mug last year, and I loved how well the color coordinated with the pumpkins! I used some of the pumpkins to help release my fall product line, and even created a little video. Last fall I also had just got the new iPhone 8, with the portrait mode, so all of these photos were actually taken on my iPhone and not my DSLR. I'm pretty sure the photo on the bottom right was my phone background for close to 6 months (if not longer). Mint cinderella pumpkins are my absolute favorite, and I'm really hoping (and maybe even praying a little bit) that one pops up in the yard later this summer!
Okay, let's finish this story. So as the pumpkins started to rot earlier this year (2018), I would casually kick them into the ground/yard so that they could do their thing. Again, not really experienced gardener over here... Just kinda hoping that my letting them sprout up on their own would magically grow another pumpkin vine like it did before.
Well a few months passed, and honestly I sort-of forgot about the pumpkins (shame, I know). We ended up landscaping the yard, and tilling all of the dirt. We put fresh soil down, and then it rained a TON (because Georgia seems to think it's Washington sometimes, and will rain like there's no tomorrow). Well within a few weeks, pumpkins started to sprout. And not just 2-3, but literally about 50! So we dug all those up, and put them in little plastic plant containers, to relocate later on (because digging up roots is no joke).
Well not a week later, probably about another 100 came up! We gave some away, and planted some in a huge compost pile that my parents have. Then as we waited for our house, once we got the house, I think the next available night we planted them in our yard!
So not so long story short, I now have two absolutely thriving pumpkin patches! The one at my moms probably has over 100 pumpkin sprouts in a 15x15 area, which is why it's turned into an amazonian jungle of pumpkins! But I love it. Ours has about 30 sprouts (which is still going to be a TON of pumpkins) and they were planted about a month behind, and are just now starting to thrive! This photo below was taken last night, after a fresh rain fall, and the other was a selfie in front of the patch at my moms!
Again, the joy of becoming a pumpkin farmer is pretty fierce! Who knew this California-native had some farming roots in her? Not me!
Okay, so you've heard my story... If you can't tell, pumpkins are legit super low maintenance, and can totally grow on their own with minimum (or in my case, none at first) effort on your part. You don't need to have a super green thumb, just know if you give it a little love.
If you do things like till up the soil before you plant, plant them in little mounds the proper distance a part, water it and maybe add a little fertilizer, than you'll have a thriving patch in no time!
Well, since it's officially summertime, you probably can't buy your own pumpkins to break open and use. However, I did find this website (not sponsored or affiliate - I wish though) that has a HUGE variety of pumpkins!!! And at a really great price on the seeds. Your local nursery *might* have pumpkin seeds, but I'm not sure. So I'd probably stick with online :) I'm gonna link a few of my favorite variety of pumpkins from the Johnny Seeds website, but again, feel free to do your research and buy whatever kind and from wherever you'd like!
A few things to note: think it's too late to grow pumpkins? Think again! They love and thrive in warm soil - and so it's the perfect time! They grow best in the south (due to the warmer temperatures) but with summer here, they'll do great in northern climates, too! Just be aware that the pumpkins needs ~100 days from seeds to flourishing before the first frost, so if you're in an area that freezes sooner than later, I'd keep that in mind and plant your pumpkins babies ASAP! If you're in one of the southern states, you have a little more time, as July is the last month to get your pumpkin patch started.
Another pro tip: Plant the pumpkins in a place where the pumpkins will get full sun! They will do okay in light shade, but the more sun, the better!
On that note, however, they do need a fair amount of water! In our humid and warm summers here in the south, I'm watering them (like, drowning them) every day to every other day. However at my moms they don't get watered except by the rain, and they are thriving!
That's what I love about pumpkins... They're super adaptable in different climates and do really well! Like I mentioned earlier, my first pumpkin patch I accidentally grew, I didn't do anything to it (until I saw it popped up - then I would water it) and it produced about 15-20 pumpkins for me!
A few of my favorite pumpkins:
Small Varieties (will take up less room)
- Caspertia (white pumpkins)
- Jill-be-little (common orange littles)
- Cinnamon Girl
- Naked Bear
- Blaze (orange and yellow)
- Triamble (pretty green pumpkins)
Medium Varieties (will take up more room)
Large Varieties (will take up more room - like vines up to 20 feet)
- Jarrahdale Large (cinderella pumpkin in mint - my personal fave)
- Musque de Provence (orange ish cinderella pumpkin - my second favorite. It can also have pretty green/orange ombre coloring, which I love)
- Polar Bear (tall white)
- Champion (tall orange)
- Mellow yellow (like it sounds)
- Knuckle Head (beautiful, wart-looking orange pumpkin)
- Porcelain Doll (a soft, baby orange color)
- Champion (classic Jack-O-Lantern looking guy)
- Valenciano (flatter, wider white)
- Long Island Cheese (beautiful, soft orange color)
- Expert (deep, fall burnt orange)
- Big Rocky (big Jack-O-Lantern)
Please note with these varieties - they range from pumpkins recommended for cooking, and pumpkins that are just pretty/best for carving. So if you want to grow pumpkins for cooking, do more research on the perfect kinds depending on what you need! I did a quick google and it looks like the Jarradhale (my fave) and really any of the Cinderella/Fairy Tale pumpkin varieties are excellent for baking (I can already smell the pumpkin bread). Then smaller/medium pumpkins that are good for baking are the baby bear, long island cheese (this name makes me lol), cinnamon girl, and new england pie, to name a few.
Again, just do research to figure out what kind you want! There's so many beautiful varieties, that really whatever you choose will be wonderful!
Still having trouble figuring it out? The Johnny Seeds website is really helpful and gives you a description of what the pumpkin is best used for, it's size, how long the vines will be, and the flavor profile for this particular pumpkin. Legit, this might be my favorite pumpkin website! And I love that you can get a seed starter for only $4.25. Magic!
Official Instructions (Step-by-Step Guide)
1. Buy pumpkin seeds (or if you're looking at this next year, use your old pumpkins)
2. Plant them in the ground - preferably use a tiller to break up the soil, and add any compost to help get rich soil. This isn't necessary, but it will only help your pumpkins flourish! Plant the pumpkin seeds in little dirt mounds, so they will germinate faster.
Pro tip: You're supposed to plant each pumpkin seed 4-8' a part. Obviously, I did not do this... But I kind of wanted something dramatic. So feel free to experiment! I'll know better at the end of this growing season if my non-experienced pumpkin farming ways worked.... I am a little worried that the pumpkins themselves won't get enough sun with my planting 2-3 sprouts in one spot, and every pumpkin hill about 12" a part. So TBD on that!
Another pro tip: Make sure you plant them in a location where they'll receive full sun!
3. Water, water, water! They need a lot of water (1" a week) to help with their growing.
You can tell when they need more water (they will yellow and whither) so just figure out what the best for your area. Here in the deep south, where it's humid and sunny and warm as all get out, I've been watering them about every other day. I noticed since I started doing this (previously it was about 1x a week) they have truly started to grow and thrive!
Et viola, that's it! After roughly 100 days or so, you'll have pumpkins! It's so much fun watching the little flowers sprout (these are what grows the pumpkins) and know you're pumpkins are growing! I'm fascinated by how God made nature, and how these flower bloom, the little pumpkins start to grow, then the flowers close up to protect the pumpkins until they are big enough to make it on their own.
At my moms, some of the pumpkins are green.. Which is the first time I've ever seen that! I did a quick good and it seems like lack of sunshine will do that (and at my moms, the vines are all vertical because they are so close together) so that's probably why. I'll need to go and trim back some of the vines soon, since they are getting a little crowded. But it's so fun seeing little pumpkin babies grow!
Additional resources, if you want to learn more:
Otherwise, that's it! Happy pumpkin patch growing, my sweet friends!
P.S. Just in case you want to celebrate - last weekend I picked my first pumpkin!!! I literally was dancing around my mom's yard (it was in her patch) and I documented the whole thing on Instagram Stories (now IG Highlights under "Pumpkins")
Safety first! Had to make sure my pumpkin wasn't going to roll around anywhere while I was still running errands. This photo still cracks me up - I'm not sure if this is normal or makes me a crazy pumpkin lady, but either way, I don't mind one bit because my pumpkin made it home safe and sound!
Now I have my pumpkin on my dining table, and every time I walk by it, I instantly smile. I'm thankful God blessed me with my first pumpkin in the patch! I'm already planning a bigger patch in our yard next year, and I can't wait to share the abundance and see what pops up in our yard this year. Definitely keep watching on Instagram, as I'll continue to post updates there as my pumpkins continue to grow and come in!
Thanks for reading - and if you decide to start your own pumpkin patch, please tag me @rosalynnelove on all social media channels! I would love to hear your pumpkin story, and I'm super curious to see what pumpkins you plant.