It depends on where you live. This post will touch on the best times for growers here in New Zealand as our growing season is almost upon us. I also touch on the best time if you are a Northern Hemisphere grower as well.
Best time to start giant pumpkins in New Zealand
Our season is back to front to the Northern Hemisphere. You want to start around the middle of October.
Having seedlings ready to be transplanted at the end of October start of November is the plan.
Are you entering your pumpkins into a competition? If you are, work backwards from that competition. Check out the lifecycle of a giant pumpkin page to give you more of an idea of the time frames.
These starting times can vary even in a small country like New Zealand. People further North will be able to start earlier than people way down south.
It all comes down to what your goal is with your pumpkin at the end of the season, and how much protection you can give your seedlings early on.
Best time to start giant pumpkins in the United States
From what I’ve read the best time to start your seeds is late April early May.
General Rule of Thumb for Growers
Northern Hemisphere – Pumpkins will be ready around October so start your seeds around late April / early May
Southern Hemisphere – Pumpkins will be ready around March so start your seeds middle of October to late October
If you have any doubts, track down growers in your immediate area and ask them when they start their seeds, and when they plan to transplant their seedlings. This can vary depending on your location, so make sure to talk to someone local to you.
You should be able to track them down via BigPumpkins.com or via one of the many Facebook groups out there. They will be more than happy to share their knowledge with you. Pumpkin growers are a friendly bunch.
Don’t start too early or too late
There are a lot of keen and excited people out there wanting to grow giant pumpkins. Starting too early or too late can lead to problems.
If you start too early, your plant could end up under a lot of stress due to not having the best growing conditions. A frost could stunt or kill your plant.
You may also have a pumpkin a lot sooner than you require one. Especially if entering a competition, so you’ll have to store it well and hope it lasts.
If starting your pumpkin seeds too late, the weather might cause problems to your pumpkin. Or you might not have reached the pumpkin full potential before a competition. Making sure your timing is the best it can be is the key to a good start to the season. I’ve had a couple of Northern Hemisphere growers mention they have only just got pumpkins on their vine now, which is super late into their season.
Have back ups ready to go
Ideally you want to stagger starting multiple giant pumpkin seedlings. This will give you backups if things don’t work out.
You should be able to give away any unused seedlings to friends or family that want to grow. Giving them a seedling will help improve their chances especially for first time growers.
This is one of my top suggestions in the free guide “How to Run a Giant Pumpkin Event” you can download your free copy here.
Be prepared for crappy starts to your season
The biggest problem you will face early on in the season here in NZ will be an unexpected cold snap.
Make sure to keep an eye on weather forecasts. Have back ups and also have early protection for your giant pumpkin seedling. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but having something is a LOT better than having nothing.
Get other people organised if they want to grow giant pumpkins
If your reading this and are keen to grow, make sure to let other people know it’s almost time to get growing.
Every year there are people that wish they knew it was giant pumpkin growing time. How about starting a competition amongst friends, family, workmates?
See who can grow the largest giant pumpkin. It’s a lot of fun, and anyone can do it.