Nothing says “fall” like sweating while planting pumpkins in 110-degree weather. Not only is this my first time growing pumpkins, but it’s also my first attempt at starting anything from seed. Quite a first-time project, I know.
You could say that our canteloupe and watermelon vines going wild has given me an over-inflated sense of confidence. ?
Since we have some open space in the corner of our backyard, I thought I would pursue a dream of mine — creating our very own pumpkin patch! If it all goes well, we should have vines of pumpkins sprawled out underneath the pecan tree. If the timing works, we should have our very own pumpkins growing just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Doesn’t that sound like such a dream? Welcoming fall with our very own backyard pumpkins and pecans — two comforts of the season.
Starting pumpkins from seed
I recently picked up two varieties of seed from Lowe’s — Jack O’ Lantern and Jack Be Little (more on the way from Johnny Seeds!). Initially, I attempted to start some seeds in an eggshell carton outside but it didn’t work. Thinking back on it now, I probably didn’t water the seeds enough to germinate them.
I was able to successfully start a few from eggshells, but I also put some in to-go clam-style containers. I realized the ones with the little ventilation holes work really well too. The container being closed creates a little greenhouse effect which helps the seeds grow.
After moving them into some repurposed to-go clam-style containers, I was much more successful at starting the seeds. This method seems to work because it creates a little greenhouse effect when the lid is closed. I did lose a few along the way but in the end, wound up with a few viable seedlings.
Then I learned that I needed to do something called “hardening off“. I took them outside bit by bit to let them get some fresh Arizona summer air. How could these tender little plant babes survive in this heat? It’s hard to imagine, but I hear that a successful fall garden is sowed in the summertime.
Picking a spot for our pumpkin patch
To be clear, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I question whether I have even seen a real-life on-the-vine pumpkin patch, let alone grown my own. I hear that pumpkins need full sun, a ton of fertilizer and a lot of space to spread out. So I have no idea if the spot I’ve chosen to start these seedlings is ideal in any way.
Right under the pecan tree, we have a flat dirt area that seems like it’d be perfect for the pumpkins to spread out across. We do get irrigation every few weeks in the summer so I will have to keep on the seedlings for the first few rounds.
We are currently getting a pool installed, so we conveniently have some extra dirt laying around. To start the pumpkin patch, I created some little mounds of dirt to place the seedlings into. I read after the fact though that apparently, pumpkins don’t do well in clay soil, and this made me nervous.
I didn’t want to risk losing the seedlings to dense dirt, so I removed the seedlings after two days. After digging out a little crater in the middle of each mound, I filled them with potting soil and replanted the seedlings. I’m sad to say I had a casualty during this process, but overall I feel better about this direction.
For good measure, I stuck some more seeds in the mounds and am working hard to keep the soil moist until the plants are more established. Checking on my little sprouts are the first thing I do in the morning and we check the dirt’s moisture level multiple times a day. They are certainly experiencing a little bit of transplant shock but I really want this to work out!
Stay tuned for more pumpkin patch updates!
I’ve shared a little bit about the pumpkin seed starting process and this fun reel about starting the pumpkin patch on Instagram. I’ll be sure to share more of my pumpkin patch journey (of course, successes and failures). Here’s to hoping there are more successes than failures!