Growing pumpkins vertically on a fence

Pumpkins take up a lot of garden space. Depending on the variety, pumpkin vines can grow up to 15 feet long, which means it takes a lot of ground space to grow pumpkins. How about taking a vertical approach to grow pumpkins? The pumpkins pictured above, which are near the end of their growing cycle, are vining on a wire fence. A picket fence will also work, or any fence with slats wide enough for the vine to weave through while resting on the railing to which the slats are attached.

To grow pumpkins along your fence:
  • Choose a sunny, well-drained location.
  • Plant in late spring (in northern locations) or early summer (extremely southern states).
  • After preparing the soil by removing weeds and turning the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches, create small mounds of soil about 6 inches high, and spaced about 3 feet apart for a wire fence or about 5 feet apart for a picket fence. A wire fence offers more locations for the vine to hold on while a picket fence relies more on the horizontal crosspiece to hold the vine up.
  • In each mound, push three seeds down to a depth of about 1 inch. Planting multiple seeds increases the odds that a seed will sprout in the mound since not all seeds are viable.
  • Apply about 2 inches of mulch (such as pine chips or leaf mold) across the mound and out at least 1 foot. Mulch helps retain moist and helps to block weed growth.
  • Water deeply each week if there is no rainfall.
  • Once sprouts appear, pull out the weakest sprouts leaving one vine to mature in each mound.
Typical pumpkin growing instructions are to pinch back a vine that has two or three pumpkins so plant energy goes to increasing pumpkin size. However, when growing pumpkins on a fence, smaller pumpkins of less than 10 inches in diameter are a better choice because the weight of large pumpkins may cause it to strangle the vine. So do not pinch back the vine. Consider growing pumpkins of a small variety, such as Baby Bear, Baby Pam, Lil' Ironsides, Lumina, Small Sugar, or Snackjack.