Pumpkins are one of the most popular garden vegetables to grow. They’re also one of the easiest, as long as you have a sunny location and plenty of space.
Ready to harvest your pumpkin?
Read on as we cover all you need to know.
When to harvest a pumpkin
The best time to harvest pumpkins is when the skin is dull and hard. If you can pierce the skin of the fruit with your fingernail, it’s not ready yet.
You may also observe the following to indicate its time to harvest:
- The vine dies back. It may turn yellow.
- A stem that’s dry and woody
- When you knock on the pumpkin with your knuckle it should sound hollow
Pumpkins can take anywhere between 70 to 150 days from the day you plant them until they are mature enough for harvest. They will generally be ready for harvest in 100 to 120 days (3 – 4 months).
Therefore, if you planted your pumpkin in mid-Spring it should be ready mid-Summer.
How long does pumpkin take to grow?
Different varieties of pumpkin grow at different speeds depending on the climate, soil conditions, and the time of year.
If you’re interested in growing pumpkins as a hobby or for harvest, it’s important to understand how long it takes your pumpkin to grow.
Pumpkin plants can take anywhere between 70 to 150 days to mature enough for harvest.
Here are some popular pumpkin varieties grown in Australia, along with their average harvest periods:
- Queensland Blue Pumpkin: 120 to 135 days
- Golden nuggets Pumpkin: 75 to 95 days
- Jap Pumpkin: 70 to 120 days
- Butternut Pumpkin: 110 to 120 days
- Red Kuri Pumpkin: 80 to 95 days
- Jarrahdale Pumpkin: 100 to 110 days
- Turk’s Turban Pumpkin: 130 to 140 days
If you want to speed up growth, be sure to plant in warm soil (at least 20 degrees Celsius) and keep your pumpkin patch moist throughout the growing season.
Both soil type and temperature can also affect growth time. Pumpkins that are grown in rich soil with plenty of water will grow faster than pumpkins that are grown in poor soil with little water.
How to harvest a pumpkin
To harvest a pumpkin, cut it off the vine with a sharp knife or secateurs. Do not tear it off as this will damage the fruit.
The goal at this point is to keep your pumpkin as healthy as possible until you are able to use it for cooking.
Here’s a handy video that shows the process:
How to store pumpkins
Once you’ve harvested your pumpkin, check it for damage (damaged pumpkins should not be stored).
Then, harden the pumpkins in the sun for about 7 days before storing them in a cool, dry place with good airflow.
Note that pumpkins should only be stored on their side, which prevents moisture from collecting. They also shouldn’t be touching each other.