Pumpkins aren’t very hardy or long-suffering, so they do need a sunny, sheltered spot in your garden, with the soil prepared as you would for marrows.

Sowing time

April – May.

Crop care

Pumpkin seeds benefit from being soaked before you plant them. Space out the plants 2–3m (6–10ft) apart, and mark their positions with canes, because in the height of the growing season it will be difficult to see where each plant begins and ends when you are trying to water them. Protect the young plants from slugs and mulch to retain moisture.

If space is limited, pumpkins can be trained onto supports, or twined around wire obelisks or metal loops. Flowers are usually pollinated by insects, but it doesn’t hurt to help this by hand, using a paint brush and dusting each flower with pollen from another flower. Be careful not to remove all of the pollen. Pumpkins are very deep rooted, so you should only need to water them when the weather is exceptionally dry.


Encourage the fruits to ripen by cutting away any foliage that’s shading them. You can harvest pumpkins 12–20 weeks after planting. Keep the fruits on the plant to mature for as long as possible: they’ll be ripe when the stem starts to crack and the skin hardens. Cut off each fruit with a long stalk of 6-8” still attached, then leave the fruit in the sun for about 10 days so that the skin continues to harden (essential for carving at Halloween!)


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