Want to make a pumpkin patch? North Carolina would be a great place to do it. North Carolina has cheap land, easy access to water, and nutritious soil that’s good for growing.
It might not be as apparent when to plant pumpkins in North Carolina. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about pumpkin seasonality and picking the best time to plant them in the Old North State.
Pumpkins take about 85 days to mature. Therefore, if you want to have pumpkins ready to harvest by October, you need to plant them about three months before, in July.
However, some pumpkins take about 120 days to fully mature, meaning you need to plant them in June.
Research the species of pumpkin you plan on harvesting. Understanding your pumpkin’s growth rate lets you work backward from your ideal harvesting date to know when to plant pumpkins in North Carolina.
How to Plant Pumpkins in North Carolina
Planting pumpkins is like planting any other crop. Here’s what you need to know when laying down the orange gourd.
Pick a Proper Site
Once you’ve figured out when to plant pumpkins in North Carolina, you must pick the best site to grow them. Pumpkins like full sun with a little bit of shade. They also need plenty of space for their vines to spread out. Each pumpkin vine needs about 50 to 100 square feet per hill.
If you have limited space, you can plant your pumpkin along the edge of your lawn or sidewalk. Other options include growing pumpkins in big 5- to 10-gallon buckets or to opt for miniature ones.
Pumpkins also grow best in slightly acidic to neutral soil. Conducting tests on a potential pumpkin patch before planting forgoes the need to adjust soil pH later on.
Prepare the Soil
Pumpkins need a lot of nutrients. They want rich, well-drained soil that doesn’t remain too soggy.
It’s best to start up a compost pile to feed these hungry pumpkins. You can also use manure to fertilize the soil as well.
Stick to more natural stuff and try to stay away from synthetic fertilizers, as it can leach into surrounding water systems and cause bothersome algal blooms.
Ensure the soil has been tilled, make hills from the soil. The little hills should have manure or fertilizer dug deeply into the ground (about 12 to 15 inches) topped with a two to a five-inch tall cone of topsoil. Doing so allows the pumpkin to concentrate on soil nutrients and water in one area.
The hills should be about four to eight feet away from each other.
Plant Pumpkin Seeds an Inch Deep in the Soil
Push pumpkin seeds about one inch deep into the soil, covering up the hole you made with dirt.
The seeds respond to darkness and know it is time to germinate when they’re completely submerged in dirt.
Wait to plant pumpkins when the soil is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal soil temperature would be 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Pumpkins are sensitive to the cold, but it shouldn’t be an issue during a regular summer in North Carolina.
Water Pumpkins Frequently
In addition to being hungry plants, pumpkins require a lot of water too. You need to provide each pumpkin about 15 to 20 gallons of water twice a week.
July is usually the rainiest month out of the year for North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Climate Office. You can let up on watering during the rainy season, but you should ensure consistent watering during drier months — especially when your pumpkins start to bud and grow.
Invite Pollinators Into the Area
In addition to asking, “When to plant pumpkins in North Carolina,” you should also ask yourself what else you should plant to attract pollinators to your pumpkin patch.
While you’re waiting for pumpkin vines to sprawl throughout the pumpkin patch, you can boost your potential pumpkin yield with plants that draw in insect pollinators. Such plants include yarrow, butterfly bush, daisy, dandelion, and goldenrod.
Adding these species that pollinators love not only adds beauty to your pumpkin patch but gives you a potentially greater pumpkin yield.
Wait for the Right Time to Harvest
You know pumpkins are ripe when they turn deep orange. The rind will feel hard. If you tap on the pumpkin’s body, it should sound hollow. The pumpkin should also resist puncture when you press against it with your finger.
Leave a little bit of the stem when cutting pumpkins off the vine to slow decay. Be gentle, as they can bruise while harvesting.
Tips for Growing Pumpkins in North Carolina
- Only water the stem and roots. Try to keep leaves dry as possible. Leaves that are always wet can start to rot. Insects could also become attracted to moist leaves and start eating them.
- Add mulch around the main stem of the pumpkin vine. Mulch keeps moisture in, deters pests, and keeps weeds at bay.
- Remove the fuzzy end of the vines. After a few pumpkins have formed, you should stop further vine growth by cutting away any newly forming vines. This forces the plant to focus on growing its existing pumpkins rather than making new ones.
- Be gentle. Pumpkins are rather delicate until close to harvesting. When they first start to bud, you need to watch where you step to avoid accidentally crushing one. The same is true for pumpkin leaves, flowers, and stems.
North Carolina is known for growing sweet potatoes and tobacco. You can add pumpkins to that list.
Growing pumpkins in North Carolina won’t be easy, as growing any plant is difficult (especially for first-time growers). But the North Carolina climate is conducive to the sun-loving, heat-needing, thirsty, hungry pumpkin.
This article told you when to plant pumpkins in North Carolina. There’s a detailed guide on how to do it too. You’re now on your way to growing a delightful pumpkin patch in time for the holiday season.
Related: Pumpkin Companion Plants