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University of Minnesota Extension

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.

Soil pH and fertility


Selecting plants




How to keep your pumpkins and winter squash healthy and productive


Vincent A. Fritz, Extension horticulturist and Carl J. Rosen, Extension soil scientist

Reviewed in 2018

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