Square Foot Gardening Pumpkins

If you’ve ever looked out at your backyard and experienced a craving for pumpkin pie, trust that there is hope for you and your yearnings.

No matter the constrictions of your space, if you have an outdoor area that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day for at least 100 days of the year, it’s possible that you, too, can grow a pumpkin.

Whether you’re new to gardening or ready to tackle a new style, growing pumpkins using the square gardening method is sure to bring a Jack-o-lantern-worthy smile to your face.

Also, Read: Square Foot Gardening Kit

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What Is Square Foot Gardening?

Square foot gardening is a method of growing plants in a home garden. It involves gridding out raised beds and placing plants in individual squares.

Who Invented Square Foot Gardening?

The term square foot gardening was coined in 1981 by Mel Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was not only a gardener but also an engineer, which may explain his logistical spin on traditional gardening.

When teaching his novel method, Bartholomew often said that square-foot gardening takes an hour or two to learn for beginners.

However, he claimed that seasoned gardeners would take a couple of weeks to wrap their heads around his innovative system.

What are the Benefits of Square Foot Gardening?

Square foot gardening’s growing popularity since its advent five decades ago is due to various factors. Home gardeners find great appeal in Bartholomew’s model.

The benefits of square-foot gardening are myriad. Pros of square-foot gardening include:

  • Square foot gardening reduces water consumption massively. Square foot gardening only requires 10% of the water needed for traditional gardening.
  • Square foot gardening requires 80% less space than traditional row gardening.
  • When plants are close together, they act as a living mulch, meaning weeds have more trouble growing.
  • Square foot gardening is much more accessible than traditional gardening techniques.
  • Smaller boxes make it easier for children of all ages to access the entirety of the garden.
  • Fewer weeds mean less labor throughout the growing season.
  • Raised beds can be raised further to be accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Square foot gardening incorporates crop rotation. Crop rotation allows for healthier, rejuvenated soil that produces better food.

How To Get Started With Square Foot Gardening

Fans and modern-day successors of Bartholomew claim that square-foot gardening is accomplished in three simple steps. First, build a box, fill it with Mel’s Mix, and set up your grid.

Build a Box

You can build square-foot gardening boxes with reclaimed wood or wood straight from the hardware store. Both conventional and pressure-treated lumber are good options.

When building boxes for a square-foot garden, remember that the box will be soaked in water at some point.

Whatever is in the water will then be absorbed by the roots of the plants in the box. That means that any chemicals the wood has been exposed to may end up in the plants.

To ensure that your plants are not being poisoned by the box they are growing in, double-check the wood source to ensure it is non-toxic.

Painting the wood with non-toxic materials can also help to prevent any poisoning.

Check out: How many corn plants per square foot

Sourcing Mel’s Mix

Mel’s Mix is a term coined by the creator of square-foot gardening, Mel Bartholomew. This unique mix features an easy ratio sure to set your square foot garden up for success.

The ideal Mel’s Mix should have the following components, each ingredient making up a third of the mixture.

  • Coarse grade vermiculite: Extra coarse is acceptable. Medium coarse is generally frowned upon.
  • Sphagnum peat moss: Increases your soil’s ability to hold nutrients and water in the soil. It is best for plants that need consistent moisture content.
  • Blended organic compost: The original version and the versions of Mel’s Mix closest to his vision incorporate five different composts into this ingredient. The value of diverse compost is that the plants experience a much greater depth of nutrient availability.

Even if all other elements of the garden are set up with care, the absence of Mel’s Mix could spell disaster.

Mel’s Mix provides the perfect ratio of drainage, moisture retention, nutrient availability, density, gravity, and aridity to ensure the best possible conditions for the plants it holds.

Setting Up Your Square Foot Gardening Grid

One thing to make clear in an era of polished graphics. The grid in square-foot gardening is not imaginary or theoretical.

The grid must be solid material, an excellent opportunity to recycle refuse gathered in the garage.

Perhaps the scraps from making the boxes can be shaved down to mark the grid. Meter sticks lashed together can also work wonderfully.

Once you set up your grid, it stays as-is in the box unless you need to make adjustments for crop rotation.

Have a look: Square Foot Gardening Bell Peppers [How & When to Plant]

20 Big Max Pumpkin Seeds | Non-GMO | Fresh Garden Seeds

Why Grow Pumpkins?

Pumpkins are great not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for the food products that you can make from them.

Pumpkins are dense in nutrients while being low in calories. They also have a lot of fiber and gluten.

Where Do Pumpkins Grow?

Pumpkins are relatively low-maintenance plants. They require only six hours of direct sunlight daily, easily attainable for most of North America.

The harder part is making sure you plant them correctly for the region they are growing in.

Pumpkin seeds are sensitive to cold, meaning that they need to be planted after the last frost in the spring and finish growing before the first frost.

Gardeners in the northern part of America, like Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, must plant by late May. Southern states like Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas can wait until early July.

Illinois is the biggest producer of pumpkins in America, possibly due to the especially rich soil in large parts of Illinois.

If the soil in your area is not rich, you can still grow pumpkins. Successful square-foot gardening provides soil that works perfectly for your plants.

Varieties of Pumpkins

Orange, round, and hefty may all come to mind when thinking of pumpkins. But while this branch of the cucurbit tree is often lumped together, an impressive variety of pumpkins is available for home gardeners in North America.

Rouge Vif d’Etampes

This fanciful variety of pumpkins is a deliciously deep orange that looks incredible on a gray November day. Rouge Vif d’Etampes translates to “a vivid red from Etampes”.

This pumpkin may not look red to modern eyes, but it absolutely has a fiery tone. Flat and wheel-shaped, this pumpkin is not only handsome but also delicious.

The fruit of the Rouge Vif d’Etampes is sweet and perfect for pies.

This variety prefers slightly acidic soil. The natural mulching aspect of square-foot gardening will be quite helpful, as this variety of pumpkins can suffer from weeds and opportunist plants.

Rouge Vif d’Etampes can survive up to two touches of frost, which gives it a slightly longer lifespan than other pumpkins. Still, you will need to harvest it by late fall.

Read: Square Foot Gardening Watering [5 Best Methods to Water]


Fairytale variety pumpkins may have gotten their name from their similarity to the picture-perfect pumpkin often depicted in retellings of the Cinderella story.

This perfectly orange, idyllic pumpkin can grow up to twenty pounds. People don’t usually eat fairytale pumpkins, as this variety was bred specifically to be a beautiful, ornamental plant.

While Fairytale cannot stay on the vine as late in the season as Rouge Vif d’Etampes, it has an incredible shelf life, meaning that you can display Fairytale variety pumpkins long into the season.

As long as the soil you plant a Fairytale in is good at draining, this pumpkin will happily grow for you.

Mildew and other diseases are common when this pumpkin gets waterlogged. Be certain that your square-foot gardening box has plenty of space to drain.


If the Fairytale variety of pumpkin is an allusion to the Cinderella story, then this strain of pumpkin is a direct pull from the folk tale.

Cinderella pumpkins are almost ruddy in their vibrant reddish-orange skin. Wonderfully round, this variety of pumpkins makes for great decor and hearty food.

Watch out because this is a thirsty pumpkin. Make sure to water Cinderella pumpkins thoroughly.


Jarrahdale pumpkins are a rare variety quickly gaining popularity in the United States. One look at this cerulean squash, and you won’t be surprised as to how it became so beloved so quickly.

This blue pumpkin has a slightly squashed look that is round and aesthetically pleasing.

Even better, Jarrahdales offers more than looks. They also are one of the most delicious varieties of squash.

Unlike some varieties of pumpkins that prefer the slightly chillier climates of the Northern United States of America, Jarrahdales prefer slightly warmer climates.

These blue pumpkins can be the perfect choice for someone just starting a garden in regions like Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri.

Check: Square Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard

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This stark white pumpkin variety likely got its name from the ghostly protagonist of a favorite series.

Amateur growers may be intimidated by the pale sheen of this pumpkin.

With Casper pumpkins, not only does the white color not mean disease, the uniform color indicates that it is full of delicious flesh.

How To Square Foot Garden Pumpkins

Square foot gardening with small plants is intuitive. A famous example of the benefits of square-foot gardening is that sixteen carrots can be grown in a single square-foot box. However, anyone who’s ever grown pumpkins knows that pumpkins need plenty of space to reach their full potential.

Worry not. Applying the principles and practices of square-foot gardening to pumpkins is not only possible but easy. Moreover, it retains the benefits of making square-foot gardening appealing to home gardeners.

Square Foot Gardening Pumpkins

The space required to grow a pumpkin varies based on the lineage of the plant.

Generally, a pumpkin needs a square foot of space to grow, which may change throughout its lifetime as it continues to develop.

Plant the pumpkin seed in its designated square at your region’s appropriate time of year. If rotating crops, try not to plant pumpkins directly after planting nightshade family members in the same spot.

While some seeds are good to be buried or even scattered, pumpkins work best when planted in a tiny replica of a pitcher’s mound. Then, carefully scoop dirt atop the seed planted at bed level.

Water often because pumpkins need plenty of hydration. Monitor the pumpkin for signs of disease. You can harvest when knocking on the skin of the pumpkin produces a pleasing drum sound.

Check post: Square Foot Gardening Arugula [How to Grow]

Managing Disease

Pumpkins are susceptible to many botanical diseases. Worse, as they are much larger than vegetables, a single gourd getting sick can be much more devastating.

One common issue that plagues pumpkins is verticillium wilt. This soil fungus is an incurable condition that is doomed to rot and kill your plants.

Thankfully, it’s easy to minimize the effect of diseases on your plants using square-foot gardening techniques.

Dispose of diseased or discolored plants separately from your compost pile because the fungi will continue to propagate in a compost bin.

You also need to clean your gardening tools regularly. Storing gardening tools with dirt on them is common practice for many home gardeners, but this ensures that you don’t carry diseases from one part of the garden to other regions, putting your other plants in danger.

Be vigilant with crop rotation to promote healthy plants. Different diseases affect different plants. Changing what plant you use in that grid can help neutralize the mystery illness.

Is Square Foot Gardening Pumpkins Right For You?

Pumpkins may be known for their aesthetic properties and the coffee delicacies they inspire. However, homegrown pumpkins are also a nutritious addition to the diet.

Pumpkins are easy to grow and can grow to be quite large, a massive output for a relatively small starting cost.

Square foot gardening is an accessible option for any home gardener. Pumpkins are able to be grown in the entirety of the continental United States. Square-foot gardening pumpkins are a great option for any family with a sunny spot to grow food.

Square Foot Gardening Pumpkins
Square Foot Gardening Pumpkins

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