growing pumpkins from seed


I hear you… it’s only mid July. No matter. You need them for October – but they have to grow! If you ever want to know when to start growing anything the easiest [cheaters tip!] advice is to check your garden centre once a month – when they’re available by seed – that’s when to start. Easy!

This is from the Johnsons range. I actually thought they’d be difficult to grow? no – easy peezy. really! There’s the packet [left] and the seed just below. I just bought them in my local garden centre.

How? who? what? Take a tray or a small plant pot about the size of a tea cup; fill with clean compost; soak first with water [from the bottom up is better – ie. sit in a basin of water and let in take up the moisture until the compost goes from dry brown to damp black] and then push the seed [it looks like a leprechauns surf board] sideways a little [half an inch] below the height of the compost until you can see it no more.

Jack O lantern [cucurbita pepo] is the more common or the ‘typical’ pumpkin as we know it and the plants will need to be planted about one metre apart outdoors when the roots fill out the tray. As you can see mine [after just two weeks! – click here] have a just little more to go before I allow them into unprotected typical irish weather.

Books and catalogues generally base sowing times on an average/ mean temperatures and as long as I understand what the plant needs to grow then I can work away and pretty much garden away as I please.

The ‘book’ tells me I’m a little late sowing – but the book obviously hasn’t seen the barbados like weather that’s been coming to North Dublin recently!!



here are my plants as of 28th of August as promised:

UPDATE: A Real Pumpkin Farm

42 replies
  1. joan walsh
    joan walsh says:

    i am very late with our pumpkins but just want to ask you can i transplant them out in to grow bags,we have them in our porch they now have 4/5 leaves on each plant,the grow bags i bought take 3 plants would it be better if i only planted 1 or 2p er bag.Also what feed to give them would tomato feed do this is our first time planting them and my 4 year old is minding them like babies.Hope you can help me out thanks for taking the time to read the mail.

  2. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Joan,

    this is qite difficult to explain in writing without actually seeing but… in horticulture i believe you can do anything you like when you like if the understanding is there… here goes!

    I think your talking about the tomato ‘grow bags’ which are the long flat plastic ones. For mine I transplanted a few weeks ago. Re yours: with four or five leaves/ in the porch – i assume they’re in pots and therefore should be almost pot bound [depending on pot size of course!]/ have a good root system.

    To be honest there’s not much special treatment from me. I put them out in the garden. normal soil. no feed. just keep the weeds away and let nature take its course. They should be fine for October-ish – of course Irelands weather may play havoc with that. I’ll put up a pic of them in the post as updat so you can see.

    Any other hassles – you know where I am now!
    slan go foill – and enjoy!
    ps. was that helpful enough

  3. bern Sweeney
    bern Sweeney says:

    Wondering is there a pumpkin patch around west of Ireland where I can bring my two little boys to pick our own pumpkins for Haloween? Too late with growing our own AGAIN this year!!!

  4. joan walsh
    joan walsh says:

    Thanks for the reply i think i will but 2 in a bag each and dig up some grass for 2 more and transplant 2 to bigger pots and see how that goes.We grew sunflowers this year too,our first time growing anything my son loves the garden so maybe next year we will do more veg (depending on how our pumpkins grow)thanks again

  5. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    @bern sweeney
    dont know if there is a pumpkin patch around ireland at all. I’ll put the question out there and maybe somebody will let me know – in the meantime if you find one you might let me know here too.
    Good luck and many thanks in advance

    @Joan Walsh
    No problem Joan I hope i was of some help. You might keep me posted on how that works for you this year and next. I think the whole thing about my own is that it works the same as anybody elses getting no special treatment but the use of my knowledge. Sunflowers are brilliant – something my Father used to do with me. Enjoy!
    slán agus beannacht

  6. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    hi, i was just wondering if anyone ever found about an irish pumpkin patch? i’m looking to bring my son to one this autumn but can’t seem to find one anywhere!!


  7. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Amanda,

    i think thats brilliant!

    it did come up in conversation, a lot! and i *believe* there is one in Lusk/ Rush North Dublin – but, as to whether it is an ‘official pumpkin farm’ [ie open to the general public] I am unsure. That said, and as you can gather… there hasn’t been much of a response [online] as to where one would find pumpkins covering the land.

    I wish I knew… but i will put it out on twitter [] and hope that something comes up! If it does believe me – it will be posted here first.

    for the moment – fingers crossed!

  8. Miss Jess
    Miss Jess says:

    well i have just carved some pumpkins and i planted about 7 seeds in a pot. its now nov.4 and it had planted them a few days ago. the point is, will they grow? i live in south carolina and it gets a little cold around now so i put them in my garage and the soil is still cold and clumpy with NO pumpkin sprouts. WILL THEY GROW???

  9. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Miss Jess,

    firstly my grandmother grew a lemon tree from seed in Dublin years ago… so there are rules to increase chances of how suvvessful a seed is – but sometimes even with perfect conditions it doesn’t work out in ones favour.

    That said – the soil is cold and clumpy, it is in the garage and temperatures are on the lower side [?]. Chances of ‘WILL THEY GROW’ at this stage are on the lower side – that nearer to no… 🙁

    I might suggest, the depth of the seed should be 2 x times its diameter below ‘soil’ level.
    The ‘soil’ is changed to a compost – to make it easier for it to germinate.
    The pot is sterilized [in milton baby bottle sterilizing liquid for example/ just a quick wash] to prevent damping off [ie death at seedling stage].
    The pot is put on your kitchen window ledge – kitchens are generally warm, humid[er] and south facing.

    best of luck 😉
    ps.I hope this helps – if it is only a few days ago & in the conditions described the seed should not have started to germinate/ develop yet.

  10. miss jess
    miss jess says:

    wonderous things have happened!

    since yoour letter, I have not cared to check my pot or garden for sprouts. Today, As i was walking my dog around our backyard, i glanced upon my garden! i saw an odd weed (this garden is very messy full of misc. plants that have been dropped their) I dug it up and found on the end, my pumpkin seed! there has been a slight warmth in weather lately but i didnt think of it as much to matter. when i figured out this was a sprout, i looked everywhere!
    i found a few more and planted them in a small “patch”. as this had gotten my hopes up, i check the one i had planted in a pot in my garage. sure enough it already had one sprout. here is my blog were i have some pics posted for you!

  11. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Miss Jess

    the pics are really cool 😉

    isn’t it brilliant when something so small and possibly simple can bring such a smile

    it’s cheered up my day 🙂 a little more. Happiness rating = 101%

    slán go foill

  12. Ali Morrison
    Ali Morrison says:

    Hi – I need to get 50 pumpkins for a Jack O’ Lantern carving party. Do you know of any pumpkin farms in or near County Dublin?

  13. Maeve
    Maeve says:

    Hi Peter.

    You were asking about Pumpkin growers/producers in Ireland. The following producers have listed Pumkins among the produce that they produce. They are all approved under the HQAS.

    Keelings – Van Dijk Nurseries Ltd, Gerald Eva (Grower)

    Lispopple Apples, Denise Buckley (Grower).

    Ballycross Apple Farm, Christian Engelbrechten (Grower).

    Southeast Vegetable Producers Ltd, Noel Hayes (Grower).

    I hope this is helpful for you and your readers in the run up to Halloween!

    Kindest regards to you all,

  14. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:


    thanks for that Maeve. However… with regard to ‘Joe public’ walking in off the street I’ll assume that Lispopple apples are [maybe] the only ones who will allow people to walk in off the street and maybe buy/ pick 50 pumpkins…. and also I will assume that the list you have given does not include all pumpkin growers but moreso just those registered with Bord Bia.

    best wishes

    lispopple growers are based in Swords and can be contacted on 01 8132702 or 01 8401530.
    You might let me know how you get on.

    Best of luck

  15. Maeve
    Maeve says:

    Hi Peter

    Apologies for my delayed reply. Yes you are correct once again – all approved Quality Assurance Scheme approved growers. I would suggest as you put it “Joe Public” to go direct to Lispopple Apples, Denise Buckley and Ballycross Apple Farm, Christian Engelbrechten as the other two quality assured growers would be more for the trade.

    I hope this helps!

  16. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:


    I have just spoke to the very lovely Natasha in Sonairte. They do grow pumpkins. On a farm. One can visit the farm but not ‘pick your own’. They do however sell them at their market and supply others with pumpkins too. *And they grow organic pumpkins 🙂
    Hope this helps

    thanks so much. Really appreciate it…. if I’m not mistaken… I believe I met Lispopple Apples at Bloom ’09… ?
    brilliant stuff and thank you

  17. Aisling J McGrath
    Aisling J McGrath says:

    We have lived in the US for the last 10 years halloween is such a great time of year, Pumpkin were so large.We now live in the west of Ireland,Where can we find large pumpkin in time for halloween ? Please help. 🙂

  18. Declan Canning
    Declan Canning says:

    Planting 1/4 acre pumpkins at the moment, in Co Meath. Any advise out there for a novice Irish grower, most of the info on web is growing in American conditions, will open patch for Halloween visitors, if successful Seems to be a shortage of places to pick your own Jack ‘o lantern,s for Halloween

  19. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:


    only advice I’d have is to get your spacings spot – or in short, follow the instructions on the seed packet 😉
    you are 100% correct re a shortage of pick your own places.
    Keep me posted and best with it


  20. Declan Canning
    Declan Canning says:

    Thank u Peter, Re Pumpkins. I have been dealing with the wettest June on record so I think Im running late with the outdoor planting.As the end of June approaches(tomorrow) 140 plants in the patch and a further 30 ready to replant outside,I had flooding yesterday where 35 plants could be mistaken for Water Lilies but that drained off within 12 hours, despite lack of sun and the heavy rain the plants that went in early Jun are holding their own. I will update you now and then.Thanks for your interest. I am learning as I go.

  21. Leona daly
    Leona daly says:

    hi peter
    great site very informative thanks. i wonder if you could help me. Im looking to buy 20-30 pumpkins in various sized for my sons christening and birthday. I’ve contacted local stores to ask them toorder for me but they said no. you have a list of potential growers to approach from a few years back would that still be worth following up. could you suggest anywhere else. Im trying to get my hands on these as all the food will be pumpkin based at the party and pumpkins then used as jack o lanterns. hope you can means alot to me

  22. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:

    Hi Leona,

    as noted in this weeks garden radio programme, there is a shortage of Irish pumpkins so you’re not on your own. That said i’ll pop this out of FB and the twitter and see if anyone can help. That I am gathering, seems very much a case of who you know.
    Lets see what happens

    update: email just in – Wells House and Gardens goes a little like so:

    Good Morning Peter,
    We have a Halloween Event taking place here at Wells House and Gardens and I am looking for lots and lots of Pumpkins for the front of the house. I was hoping that there would be/is a farm somewhere in Ireland where we could order them.

    I’ve a mobile tel number to call if anyone wants it and can help.

  23. Tommy
    Tommy says:

    @ Leona – i think there’s a spot out on Summerhill Co Meath that grow them and you pick your own. Can’t think of more details though. Sorry.

  24. Declan Canning
    Declan Canning says:

    Hi Peter
    Im the guy from Summerhill Meath with the Pumpkin Patch, despite the bad summer I expect that I will bring in a pumpkin crop which will be open to the public as a Pick your own Pumpkin Patch 19-31 Oct, The patch comprises of 1/2 an acre with 12 varieties. Details can be found on Facebook page Meath Pumpkin. I will be able to supply Leona and Wells House if they contact me @ 087 76283133 086 0376583. By the way thanks Tommy for the mention.
    Best Regards

  25. Declan Canning
    Declan Canning says:

    Hi Peter
    Thanks for the mention on the SodShow, Meath Pumpkin is still hanging in there despite slugs, rain, wind and more rain, early frost, continuing floods and lack of sun, if snow fell in the next three weeks I would not blink an eyelid.
    All the best Peter and Good Luck.

  26. Jo James
    Jo James says:

    Hi Peter, we opened Kennedys Pumpkin Patch in 2011 for the first year with approx 500 plus pumpkins. We opened a field for kids to pick their own pumpkins with tea/coffee face painting etc. A fun day out for the kiddies. We are based in Shallon Julianstown Co. Meath. We plan to open the weekend before Halloween, so I can let you know further details if you need. Yes we too had problems with slugs and mildew but we came though. I have just started a facebook page Kennedys Pumpkin Patch, which I hope to have more info soon. Jo.

  27. Declan Canning
    Declan Canning says:

    Best of luck to Kennedys Punpkin Patch there its no mean feat to have a crop this year and good luck to ye, Meath Pumpkin opened to the public this morning Sat Oct 20, good few visitors over the course of the day, its a lovely day out today thank God.
    Meath Pumpkin on FB

  28. Tom d
    Tom d says:

    Hey peter,
    Love the site. It’s only deadly.

    Just a quick question, do pumpkins need a big pot to get started in and what kind of size do they need to be before transplanting outside? Can they be started in small cell sized trays or do they need something closer to 3-4 inch size pots to get going?


  29. Peter Donegan
    Peter Donegan says:

    Hi Tom,

    cheers re the site….. re the pumpkins;
    As you see in the opening pic – that’s my hand and my pumpkin plants with first true leaves on them – I chose to grow them [firstly] in a cell tray something similar to that of a bedding plant tray. It really just makes for a stronger plant and as versus the opening tray system there is less disturbance of roots.

    If you wish you can then move them up to a 2 litre size pot – it tells you this on the underside of all pots – or plant them into raised beds.

    Let me know how you get on.
    Thanks for the comment

    Have a very happy 2014

  30. Tom
    Tom says:

    hi peter .tom murphy here , its march now and im looking at growing my own pumpkin patch and a few vegs for the kids .what is my plan could you assist me .may be you could visit if you wanted to .i have a 1\2 acer to play with . it will have rotted manure to spread on it and rotavate to the last this weekend

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  2. […] had written an article last year on growing pumpkins from seed [check out the comments for ] and it seems many of you are on the hunt for pumpkins…. […]

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