Dreaming of growing your own pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving? Find out exactly when to plant pumpkins for the perfect fall harvest!
Last year as we did our test patch of the Back to Eden garden method, we prepped our beds and threw a bunch of seeds out to see what would grow.
We didn’t even try to make it a successful garden, we wanted to see just how hands off the method really was. Much to our surprise, we yielded over 300 pounds of produce without even trying AT ALL!
One of the things we tossed out were heirloom pumpkin seeds. When the plants started coming up I was so excited about the idea of homegrown pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Little did I know we had planted too late for that and didn’t end up harvesting the pumpkins until the week after Thanksgiving. It was quite a bummer, I can tell you that!
So let me save you a little heartache and help you with exactly when to plant pumpkins for a perfect fall harvest.
When to Plant Pumpkins
You probably see a lot of different information regarding zones and when to plant various things… but the bottom line is that pumpkins need 100 days to mature.
I like to err on the side of caution and plant 120 day before I want to harvest.
For a Halloween Harvest:
You need to plant by the end of June, middle of July at the latest, if you want to carve homegrown pumpkins this year. You can start the seeds inside if it’s too hot where you are, but get them started by the end of June.
For a Thanksgiving Harvest:
You need to plant pumpkins by the second week in July, first week of August for a Thanksgiving harvest. Again, you can start the seeds inside if you need to!
If Your First Frost is Before Halloween
I know some places in the country see frost before Halloween… being a South Texas gal, I can’t imagine that, but I know it’s true!
If this is the case for you, make sure your 120 days to maturity is up before the first frost. Then simply cure and store them for the holidays.
Harvesting and Curing Pumpkins for Storage
You’ll know the pumpkins are ripe when they have fully changed colors and you are unable to pierce their flesh with a fingernail.
Once they are harvested, you can cure pumpkins by setting them in a warm, dry location for 1-2 weeks before storing. This will allow you to still have homegrown pumpkins for all the right holidays, even if there is frost on the ground!
Best Pumpkin Variety for Carving and Pie
If you’re like me, you like the idea of a plant that multitasks! This Connecticut Field Pumpkin is an heirloom pumpkin variety that can be dated back to the first New England settlers as well as the Native Americans; it’s a true American pumpkin!
Not only is it just a cool variety of heirloom organic pumpkin, but it also gets large enough for carving, but can still be used as a pie pumpkin!
BONUS: What can I do with the leftover pumpkin seeds and guts after I use the meat?
Wondering what to do with all those pumpkin seeds and pulp? There are a few options!
1. Roast the seeds and eat them yourself. I use the same instructions for roasting zucchini seeds for roasting pumpkin seeds. After you’ve harvested the seeds, give the rest of the guts to the chickens.
2. Dry the seeds and give a handful every few days, or once a week, to the chickens. They are anti-parasitic and loved by chickens! (Still give the chickens the guts fresh!)