Pumpkins for Small Gardens

Keep pumpkins from taking over your garden.

November 26, 2010

Q: One pumpkin plant took over my garden last summer. Can I stunt the growth of this year's plant without hurting the fruit?

A: There is no way to stunt the growth of a vine, but you can prune the vine tips. 'Clip the vines only after the plant has two or three fruits on each,' says heirloom-pumpkin grower Amy Goldman. Even with pruning, you'll still have lots of vine because the fruits need at least 10-foot-long runners, with foliage, for nourishment. Or you can plant a variety with a compact growth habit, such as 'Wee-B-Little' or 'Racer'. Goldman also recommends growing the so-called summer pumpkins, like 'Rond de Nice', 'Tondo di Piacenza', or 'Eight Ball', which are usually grown exclusively as green summer squash but when grown to maturity are orange.


Trellising pumpkins that are volleyball size or smaller is a great way to keep the fruit accessible and save space. Buy or build a sturdy trellis and train the vine up the support. Make a sling for each pumpkin using panty hose. To avoid shading your garden, place the trellis along the north side.