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Growing Pumpkin & Squash

How to grow pumpkins & squash in containers, growbags, garden beds and allotments



Family/Latin Name

Cucurbitaceae - Cucurbita maxima & Pepo

Type of Plant

Fruiting - Crop Rotation Group = Others

Suitable for

Garden Beds, Containers,  Growbags, Allotments

Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants


Plant Dimensions

Trailers : Height up to 30cm/12" -  Spread several metres

Bush:  Height  up to 60cm/2ft - Spread up to 90cm/3ft

Yield Per Plant Pumpkins - 3-5 pumpkins
Squash: +10

Time between sowing and harvesting

15-20 weeks

Sowing time

Indoors- late April - temperature   +19C/66F

Outdoors - Late May - Early June - temperature +19C/66F

Where to Sow

Indoors in pots of compost 

Outdoors in containers or open ground

Requires very rich, well drained soil/compost

How to Sow

Indoors - 12mm/1/2" deep on its side - seed 1 per  7.5cm/3" pot 

Outdoors in containers - 2.5cm/1" deep on its side in large  containers (at least 30cm/12inches wide)  or 2 per growbag 

Outdoors in open ground - 5cm/1" deep on its side at least 45cm/18 inches apart on all sides.

After Germination

Keep well watered. Protect from slugs.

Growing on - 

in Containers

Harden off indoor sown plants then transplant singly large containers at least 30cm/12" wide and deep or 2 per growbag.

Growing on -

in open ground

Plant out at least  60cm/2ft apart on all sides.


Pinch out growing tips of trailing varieties when they reach 60cm/2ft long. Keep very well watered but only water around the plants and feed with liquid fertiliser once the fruits begin to form. 


For the smaller squash varieties continual cropping is necessary to prolong the harvesting period. Start cutting patty pans (custard) and summer squash at about 10cm/4" depending on the variety. Cropping only continues until 1st frosts (about 8-12 weeks).


Winter varieties should be allowed to mature on the plant. Towards the end of September, cut back some of the leaves to expose the fruit to the air/sun to ripen and harden for about 10 days before harvesting.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Powdery Mildew
Indications Yellow patches on leaves with a greyish mould
Treatment Organic
1. Remove the infected leaves and apply an organic sulphur spray/dust every 7-10 day
2. Spray with a VERY WEAK solution of milk and water  (1 part milk, 9 parts water) weekly
3. Increase humidity - the fungus loves hot dry conditions
 Spray with Dithane (mancozeb), or a multi-purpose fungicide containing myclobutanil,
Prevention Organic
1. Avoid damp or humid sites and overcrowding.
2. Practice crop rotation.
Mosaic Virus  and Aphids
Indications Leaves puckered with pale or yellow mottling
Treatment None - destroy all infected plants
Prevention Organic
1. This virus is carried by greenfly. Spray young plants with a weak solution of soapy water as soon as you see aphids.
2. Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
3. Practice crop rotation
Spray with an insecticide containing Dimethoate  or Pyrethrum
Indications Young leaves are eaten - sometimes completely missing
Treatment Organic
1. Sink small pots filled with beer to ground level. Empty daily
2. Sprinkle slugs with table salt
Use slug pellets
Prevention  Avoid very damp sites

 Companion Flower Graphic

Beans, Sweetcorn, Pea, Sunflowers, Radish , nasturtium, marigold


If you know aphids are a problem in your area, grow flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula asters,  dahlias, and zinnias nearby as  they act as a lure.



Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen


Storage:  Refrigerate for up to 5 days 

Preparing:  wash in cold water. Cut a thin slice from each end then cut as required. There is no need to peel. The flowers are also edible. These are usually fried in a light batter or stuffed and fried or baked.  



Whole   =  30 - 45 minutes


Chunks, slices  or Cubes  =  6-10  minutes


Chunks, batons, slices =  6-10 minutes best lightly floured or battered


Chunks, thick slices  or Cubes  =  3 - 4 minutes


Chunks, slices  or Cubes =  15 - 20 minutes


Halves  =  30 - 45 minutes


Once properly air ripened, pumpkins and some squashes can be stored for up yo four months in a cool dark place.

Preparing:  Wash the outsides in cold water before starting to prepare. Larger winter pumpkins are best cut into manageable pieces before peeling and seed removal unless they are going to be stuffed. If using whole, simply wash well in cold water then slice the top or an end and scoop out the seeds and fibres with a metal spoon.



Large whole/halves  =  up to 90  minutes cook as above

Large Chunks/Wedges  =  20 - 30 minutes  drizzle with oil


Chunks/Thick Slices  =  10-15  minutes


Chunks/Thick Slices =  8-10 minutes best lightly floured or battered


Chunks/Thick slices   =  5-7 minutes


Chunks/Slices/Cubes =  20 - 25 minutes


Whole/Halves  = 60-150 minutes depending on recipe

For more preparation and cooking information about pumpkins and squash plus lots of  recipes visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk.

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