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Growing pumpkins and winter squash in home gardens

Quick facts

  • These plants are members of the cucurbit family, which includes summer squash, zucchini, melons, gourds and cucumbers.
  • Jack-o'-lantern pumpkins have stringy, bland flesh, while pie pumpkins have smaller, sweeter fruit.
  • Longer-season varieties may be difficult to ripen properly in parts of Minnesota.
  • Sow seed in the garden in late May to early June, or start seeds indoors in late April.
  • Pick winter squash and pumpkins before a hard freeze.

Popular vine crops 

White, green, yellow and orange pumpkins

Pumpkins and winter squash are among the most popular vine crops in the garden. The terms pumpkin and squash can be confusing. Squashes can be an ingredient in pumpkin pie, and some large squashes are ornamentals. These plants are all closely related members of the cucurbit family, which also includes summer squash, zucchini, melons, gourds and cucumbers.

Preparing for planting

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Planting

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How to keep your pumpkins and winter squash healthy and productive

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Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect pumpkins and winter squash crowns, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis. 

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools What insect is this? and What's wrong with my plant? or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.

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Author: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator, Vincent A. Fritz, and Carl J. Rosen

Reviewed in 2022

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