Adventures in Growing Pumpkins from Seed

Hello, pumpkin season! Yes, I am one of those pumpkin-crazed people that loves all things pumpkin! Pumpkins pumpkins everywhere is basically my motto for fall. For me, autumn is for decorating & cooking/baking with pumpkins. Since I pretty much believe that there is no such thing as having too many pumpkins, I decided to try to grow my own from seed this year. Sadly, I haven’t had much luck growing pumpkins & squash in the past though. My pumpkin plants took a swift exit due to vine borers last year & my acorn squash never even flowered before it took a dirt nap. But this year might just be the year that I’ll actually be able to grow my own homegrown pumpkins. *fingers crossed*

pumpkin seeds picture
Hello, free pumpkin seeds!

Considering my past pumpkin & squash growing failures, I wasn’t too keen on spending money on pumpkin plants this year only to see them shrivel up later. So, last year when I was prepping a couple of store bought pie pumpkins for pie making, (check out how I roasted pumpkins & made fresh pumpkin puree) I decided to save the seeds so I could plant them in the spring. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal if the plants didn’t end up growing, since the seeds were essentially a free bonus. I cleaned the seeds, set them on a paper towel to dry & saved them in an envelope a few days later with dreams of growing my very own pumpkin patch in the future.

pumpkin sprouts picture
Spoiler alert: they sprouted!

I planned on planting the pumpkin seeds in the spring, but it was a super busy gardening season for me & I just kept pushing off planting them. To be honest, I think I kept putting it off because I didn’t believe that the seeds would even sprout, much less grow pumpkins. I didn’t get around to planting them until early June, which was a few weeks after I had intended to plant them. I hoped that they would sprout, but I was ready to be disappointed. To my surprise, they sprouted! All seven of the pumpkin seeds that I planted sprouted! Since then, they have been growing like weeds. Half of the pumpkin plants have decided to grow over a walkway & block our fence entrance. We let them do what they want with hopes of future pumpkins.

pumpkin leaves picture
& the leaves just kept getting bigger.
pumpkin plants picture
When the pumpkin plants first decided that they didn’t want us to leave through the fence door.

Soon after the plants started sprawling everywhere, came the pumpkin flowers. All male flowers, mind you. Every day I would look over the plants between the giant leaves to see if I could spot any tiny baby pumpkins with no such luck. Then one day, I finally found a female flower. Oh my gourd! My pumpkin watch intensified as I watched the female flower’s pumpkin grow bigger every day. Then I watched it yellow & die off. Pumpkin fail #1. It seemed like the female flower hadn’t been pollinated which led to its ultimate demise.

pumpkin flowers picture
Starfish or pumpkin flowers? You decide.

My job was clear when I spotted a second female pumpkin flower a few days later. Even though my garden is generally buzzing with pollinators, I needed to hand pollinate my pumpkins. So, hand pollinate I did with #2. I removed the petals from a male flower, removed the pollen & pollinated the female flower. I was pretty proud of myself too with my pumpkin creating. I once again watched over the course of a few days as the tiny pumpkin under the female flower grew. Then I watched again as it slowly yellowed & died off. Pumpkin fail #2.

hand pollinating pumpkins picture
Time for some hand pollinating.
hand pollinating pumpkins image
A blurry picture of pumpkin creating.

At this point I had just about given up. I figured that perhaps I just wasn’t meant to grow pumpkins. I spotted a tiny third female flower and its pumpkin a few days later & no hopes were up over here. I almost didn’t even try to hand pollinate this flower, but I decided to give it a go just in case. I watched it grow larger every day the past few days. Guess what? It hasn’t yellowed & it’s still growing! This pumpkin is far bigger than its predecessors. I think I might actually have a pumpkin, folks! Plus, there’s more female flowers now. Excuse me as I try to hold back my potential pumpkin patch excitement.

female pumpkin flower picture
That’s a tiny little pumpkin forming there!
growing pumpkins from seed picture
Look at that pumpkin grow!

If I can just grow one pumpkin & make a pie with it for Thanksgiving I will be over the moon. One pumpkin, that’s all I ask for. I am a bit of a pumpkin pie purist. I have been making from scratch pumpkin pies using fresh pumpkins for a few years now. Which is why a homegrown & homemade pumpkin pie is my ultimate fall goal. Hopefully, I can achieve that goal. I did a little research & found out that even though I planted seeds from pie pumpkins, my pumpkin plants may not grow pie pumpkins. I might end up with another variety of pumpkin instead. Let me tell you, I’m not bothered by that in the least. Whatever variety of pumpkin I have will be celebrated, hopefully in pie form. Send me good pumpkin vibes, gardeners!

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