When is the Best Time to Plant in Ohio?
The key to planting pumpkins of all types is to wait until after the last heavy frost of the season. Although the weather may be warm, the soil in which you are planting must be consistently 65°F (18°C) before the pumpkin seeds grow correctly.
Expert gardeners may be able to tell by the feel of the soil whether it is warm enough. However, the most accurate way of testing the temperature is by purchasing a soil thermometer. Stick the thermometer into the ground at a level of one inch (2.5 cm) to check if it is warm enough.
Tip: A local nursery or home and garden should carry a soil thermometer at an inexpensive price.
Planting the Seeds
It typically takes about two weeks for the soil to warm up enough to allow the seeds to germinate. Once it has, you are safe to plant your seeds directly into the ground.
If you are using hills to plant the pumpkin seeds, plant four or five seeds around the perimeter of the hill. For rows, plant a seed every six inches (15 centimeters). Once the seeds have sprouted, pull the weakest plants. Hills should have three sprouts per hill, while in rows the sprouts should be spaced about 18 inches apart (46 centimeters).
Tip: If you do not have enough room for the pumpkin plants to spread, try growing them in a container.
Caring for Pumpkin Plants
Once the seeds have sprouted and the plants begin to put out leaves, the most essential elements for a successful crop are the following:
- Regular watering, about one inch (2.5 centimeters) a week or whenever the topsoil becomes dry.
- Ample sunhsine. Eight to ten hours of sun is ideal.
- Regular application of an organic fertilizer.
When to Harvest
Harvest time varies depending on the variety of pumpkins you plant. Miniature pumpkins take around 85 days to mature, while Jack O’Lantern pumpkins can take as long as 125 days. You will be able to tell harvest is approaching because the vines will begin to turn brown and die off. Additionally, the fruits will become their signature orange color.
Tip: Watch the weather and be sure to either harvest all of the pumpkins, including the green ones, or provide sufficient cover from the frost.
Once you harvest the pumpkins, they should keep for several months in a cool, dry location. A successful harvest means you can enjoy pumpkin pie in the middle of an Ohio winter!