How to grow Pumpkins in time for Halloween

These Zombie Pumpkins are the perfect prop for a scary Halloween! These compact warty Pumpkins are ideal for growing in smaller gardens. A fun grow to do with kids, get them involved with the sowing, growing and picking.

Zombie warty pumpkins

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My Children love growing pumpkins for Halloween. It is such a treat for them, to go to the pumpkin patch and pick their own homegrown warty beauty 🎃. We went full on Zombie this year! They are Incredibly easy to grow, so if you have the space and your little ones love Halloween like mine do, give it a try. These are the seeds I used

Zombie Pumpkins

These bumpy warty pumpkins may look diseased or afflicted with some sort of fungus, but I promise you they are not! They are bred specifically to look that way! It is achieved by the practice of Cross-breeding. It can take as many as 10 generations of Cross-breeding to achieve this Goosebump look.

Why Do We Carve and Display Pumpkins for Halloween?

The answer comes in the form of an Irish folklore figure named Stingy Jack! The story goes that Stingy Jack tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain. When Stingy Jack died, God refused to allow him into heaven, and the Devil whom still harboured a grudge, didn’t let him into hell either. So Jack was cursed, doomed to roam the earth for all eternity. 

Jacks Wandering soul would often haunt and terrorise the living and so Irish folk would carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten him away, calling them Jack-O-Lanterns. When Irish immigrants moved to the U.S. they continued to practice this tradition, but instead of carving the faces into turnips, they began carving Jack-O-Lanterns from Pumpkins-Pumpkins were native to the region and served as a replacement for the Irish Turnip.

Bumpy pumpkin with warts

So How did Pumpkins become associated with Halloween?

Halloween is based on the ancient Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Ireland and England that was observed from sunset on the 31st of October to sunset on the 1st of November.

It was believed that during Samhain the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world break down, allowing more interaction between the living and the dead….this was a problem for those whom feared the wrath of Stingy Jack and other ghostly souls. Placing carved Pumpkins by their doors as a means of protection, kept away any spirits that may want to cause harm.

Pumpkin warts

How to grow Zombie Pumpkins

  • Sow Pumpkin seeds on their sides around 2.5 cm deep in pots, April – June for harvest September – October. I sow my Pumpkin seeds in April in a good quality compost, I then cover with cling wrap or a propagator lid, then leave to germinate on a sunny windowsill.
  • Germination occurs within 7-14 days.
  • When large enough prick out and pot on into individual pots. Allow them to grow on, planting out when all risk of frost has passed. *Don’t forget to harden off seedlings raised indoors.

What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.

How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.

warty pumpkins

Caring For Pumpkins

  • Zombie Pumpkins take 90-120 days to reach maturity. To give your Pumpkins the best start feed and water your pumpkins regularly. A thick mulch of organic matter would be helpful (though not essential) spread around the plants, it will help to conserve moisture at the roots.
  • Hoe between Pumpkin plants regularly to prevent weeds from establishing.

Young Pumpkin plants
Young Zombie Pumpkin plants

  • Leave your Pumpkins on the plant for as long as possible until the skin has hardened and the Pumpkins have turned a deep orange Colour

grow zombie pumpkins

  • Harvest Pumpkins September-October before the first frosts by cutting each fruit from the stem leaving 2-3 inches of the stem attached

zombie pumpkins

How Big Will Zombie Pumpkins Grow?

The fruits will weigh around 6.5-8.5 lbs. Pumpkin Plant Spread, Height: 45cm. Spread: 2m

Looking for more Vegetable growing posts?

How to Grow Swiss Chard

How to Grow Peas

How to Grow Radish

How to Grow Broccoli

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