How to Grow Pumpkins with Kids
Pumpkin growing with children is really simple and easy to get involved with, and late May/early June is the perfect time to start growing them in time for Halloween. All you need is a pot, some compost and a pumpkin seed, or our best-selling Pumpkin Seedcell, which we use in the pictures below. Check out all our pumpkin growing kits here.
Planting the pumpkin seeds
- Fill an 8cm pot with compost up to 1cm from the top
- Plant your Seedcell or seeds 1-2cm deep in the middle of the pot
- Keep your pumpkin pot in a warm place indoors; a sunny windowsill is perfect. Keep the soil damp.
- When the seedlings have grown and you see roots sticking out of the bottom of the pot, it is time to move them into bigger 12cm pots
Growing them on
Now you've got your pumpkin seedlings. Congratulations! It's now time to plant them in the ground outside.
In late May you need to ‘harden them off’. This just means getting them used to being outside.
- Put the pots outside every day for a week in a sunny, sheltered spot and bring them back in again each evening.
- If there is no frost forecast, you can leave them outside all the time the following week.
- Now they are ready to move to their final positions!
- In the garden – choose a sunny spot and dig a hole a little bigger than the pot the plants are growing in. Mix some compost into the soil if you have some and firm the soil around the plant. Water well.
- In a peat-free grow bag or patio pot (choose one at least 45cm in diameter), plant the pumpkin firmly in the container and put it somewhere sunny.
Tip – pumpkin plants will sprawl along the ground, so gently train them away from where they might get trodden on!
Flowers and pumpkins
- Pumpkins are thirsty plants, so water really well, especially if they are in a pot or growbag. Tip from the Royal Horticultural Society – sink a 8cm plant pot into the ground next to the plant and water into it – this makes sure the water goes to the roots.
- Watch out for flowers! Pumpkin flowers are really pretty! Once the flowers fade, look out for baby pumpkins developing behind where the flower used to be.
- When each plant has 2 or 3 baby pumpkins developing, take off any more flowers. This will make sure that the plant puts all its energy into growing fewer, bigger pumpkins. At this stage you can feed them with tomato fertilizer to help the fruits develop.
- As the pumpkins get bigger, put some wood or tile under them to stop them sitting on the ground.
- In the autumn, the leaves and stems will die away, leaving bright orange pumpkins behind. Let them dry in the sun for a couple of weeks to harden their skins. Now you can pick them and bring them inside. Don’t worry if it’s not quite Halloween when you do this; pumpkins will keep for 2-3 months if you store them in a cool place like a garage.
- Sarah Edgeworth