Pumpkins are one of my all-time favorite plants because they’re a popular decoration and food during my all-time favorite season: Autumn. My favorite way to decorate a pumpkin is by carving a stellar celestial pumpkin. But these Jack Be Little Pumpkins are a little too small for that. Each year, I harvest these pumpkins and use them to adorn mantle pieces, tables, and porch steps in my home. Once the season is over, I cut them up and throw them to my chickens as a snack!
These mini pumpkins are super easy to grow. In this article, we’ll talk about how to grow Jack Be Little Pumpkins and what to expect come harvest time.
What Are Jack Be Little Pumpkins?
Being successful with growing any plant starts with knowing all there is to know about it. Here’s a quick rundown of Jack Be Little Pumpkins:
- Latin name: Cucurbita pepo
- Native to: Central America
- Invasiveness: Not invasive
- Tenderness: Annual
- Sun: Full sun
- Water: Well-watered
- Soil: Fertile, warm
- Hardiness zone: 3-7
- When to plant: When soil reaches 70°F
- Spacing: 4 feet
- Plant height: 12 inches
- Bloom period: Summer
- Time to maturity: 95 days
- Container friendly: Yes
- Fertilizer: 10-10-10
- Toxicity: Not toxic
- Deer resistant: Not appealing to deer
- Pest resistant: No
How To Grow Jack Be Little Pumpkins
Jack Be Little Pumpkins are a non-invasive annual that requires full sun, lots of water, fertile, warm soil, and grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. If grown in zones cooler or warmer than 3-7, you may run into temperature-related issues and have a less than optimal harvest or no harvest at all. These pumpkins don’t grow large fruit so have are less nutrient demanding but still do well with the occasional fertilizing with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Jack Be Little Pumpkins can be planted outdoors once the soil has warmed up to 70°F. These pumpkins have a spread of about 4 feet and can grow to a foot tall, so it’s best to space them in rows about 4 feet apart. If planting multiple rows, space the rows by 6 feet. Each plant will yield 6 to 8 pumpkins. If more begin to develop, cut them off to allow the existing 6 to 8 fruit to grow properly.
These mini pumpkins are edible and nontoxic. They are not known to be pest resistant but deer don’t seem to prefer to eat them.
Like most squash, pumpkins are thirsty plants. They need lots of water. Growing Jack Be Little Pumpkins in a container is a viable way to make sure that the soil stays nice and warm and wet as well. Frequent watering will ensure that these tiny fruits grow and ripen properly.
Jack Be Little Pumpkins prefer full sun, a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Less direct sun than that may create sub-optimal growing conditions and result in no fruit or a dead plant. If you don’t have sun, you may instead want to try these shade-tolerant plants.
Soil and fertilizer
Pumpkins aren’t terribly picky about their soil. If growing in a container, standard vegetable garden soil will do. They do need plenty of nutrients in order to grow their ripe, orange fruit though. Supply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer several times throughout the season. You can also mulch in fresh compost or rabbit manure when you plant them.
Growing Jack Be Little Pumpkins in containers
Growing Jack Be Little Pumpkins in containers is a solid option, in part due to their small fruit size. These pumpkins require warm, wet, well-fertilized soil, all of which can be easily provided by a container. Use a standard vegetable gardening soil and provide a 10-10-10 fertilizer every once in a while during the season to get the best results.
How big do Jack Be Little Pumpkins get?
As the name might suggest, Jack Be Little Pumpkins are nothing like their much larger counterparts, at least in terms of size. At most, these little pumpkins grow 3 to 4 inches across. The plants themselves can grow 3 to 5 feet long and grow between 6 and 10 fruit per vine.
Can you eat Jack Be Little Pumpkins?
Jack Be Little pumpkins are small, decorative pumpkins that are often used for ornamental purposes, but they are also edible. While they are not typically grown for their culinary qualities, Jack Be Little pumpkins can be cooked and consumed. They have a sweet and mild flavor, similar to other varieties of pumpkin. They are often used in recipes for soups, stews, roasted vegetables, or even desserts like pumpkin pie or bread.
Can they grow on a trellis?
It’s a question I hear a lot: can these mini pumpkins grow on a trellis? Sadly, no, Jack Be Little pumpkins do not grow well on a trellis. These pumpkins are typically bushy and sprawling in their growth habit, and they tend to spread out along the ground.
They require a significant amount of space to grow and develop their vines and fruit. While some types of pumpkins, such as smaller varieties or certain hybrids, can be trained to grow on trellises or supports, Jack Be Little pumpkins are not well-suited for vertical growth.
It is best to provide them with ample ground space to allow their vines to spread out and produce their characteristic small pumpkins.
When to pick Jack Be Little Pumpkins
Jack Be Little Pumpkins are ready to harvest as soon as they’ve reached their full size, about 3-4 inches across, and have that rich, deep, orange color that many pumpkin cultivars have. Be sure that the shell of the pumpkin has become quite hard. In general, you can leave them on the vine as long as you want, but be sure to harvest them before the first frost of autumn.
Pumpkins are not without their problems. One of the most common problems with Jack Be Little Pumpkins are yellowing leaves. Yellow leaves are usually caused by one of two problems: improper watering and insufficient nutrients. Pumpkins are water and nutrient demanding plants and need plenty of both. Your first step in troubleshooting should be to increase watering if the soil is dry or decrease it if the soil is very wet. If the leaves continue to yellow, offer a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Read More: Why Your Squash Leaves Are Turning Yellow
Propagating Jack Be Little Pumpkins
Jack Be Little Pumpkins are best propagated by seed and replanted in the spring. This is an heirloom variety of pumpkins, so its seeds can be stored and replanted without issue. Simply harvest a handful of seeds, do your best to remove any pulp from them, and allow them to dry in a cool, dark place. Store in a sealed container over winter and plant again in spring!
Uses for Jack Be Little Pumpkins
Jack Be Little Pumpkins are most commonly used as decorations, though they can be used in culinary dishes as well. Multiple recipes call for these pumpkins to be used. One of my favorite uses for them is as a small candle holder. I simply cut out a small opening in the top, remove pulp and seeds, and insert a small candle. It’s super cute and fun! At the end of the harvest season, I throw these little pumpkins to my chickens for a healthy snack.
History of Jack Be Little Pumpkins
Jack Be Little Pumpkins have a relatively brief history, having only been around since the late 1980s. They first hit the scene in 1989. Pumpkins have been grown in Mexico for a very long time with seeds being found at archaeological sites dating back over 7,000 years.