Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: Winter Melon And Summer Pumpkin: What Is The Difference?

Pumpkin is a versatile and nutritious vegetable with various shapes, sizes, and flavors. You can plant two different types of pumpkins in the garden: winter melon and summer pumpkin. Understanding these two types of pumpkins can help you create a bountiful harvest in your backyard. Understand the fundamental differences between winter and summer pumpkins, including planting requirements, harvest time, and storage. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

Plant type and texture

Generally speaking, summer squash grows in the form of shrubs or weak vines, while winter melon grows in the form of vine plants. Pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, and pies are common summer melon varieties, while walnuts, cooked food, and honey fruits are common winter melon varieties.

The skin of summer pumpkin is generally thin, edible, and the flesh is quite soft and delicate, with a mild and sweet taste. On the other hand, W pumpkins usually have a thicker skin, but with exceptions like cooked food, their skin is very thin. Their flesh is denser than summer pumpkins, usually sweeter, and their seeds are larger. The seeds of summer squash are usually smaller than those of winter squash.

Summer pumpkins are usually cylindrical or spherical in shape, and can be straight or slightly curved. On the other hand, winter melon usually has a more circular or rectangular shape. However, there are also some exceptions. For example, some summer melon varieties, such as curved necked pumpkins, can have curved shapes, while some winter melon varieties, such as delicate pumpkins, can have thinner and longer shapes.

Planting time

The ideal temperature for planting summer and winter pumpkins is a soil temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no risk of frost. However, winter melon sprouts best in warm soil (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher). Therefore, generally speaking, you can plant summer pumpkins a few weeks before sowing winter melon.


You can plant summer and winter pumpkins on the ground (in rows and hills) or in containers. The spacing between plants depends on whether you are planting a dense or grape variety.


When planting dense varieties underground, sow the seeds in rows of 4 to 6 feet, ranging from 15 to 18 inches. For grape plants, plant the seeds at a distance of 12 to 18 inches, with a distance between rows of 6 to 12 feet to allow the vines to spread. You can also provide additional support for vertically planting grape vines, such as using trellis.

You can also plant pumpkins on hills, which are small mounds of soil designed to form a raised planting area for more growth space at the roots. To plant summer melons, plant four to six seeds on each mountain and space the hills 3 to 4 feet apart. Once the plant reaches a height of approximately 2 inches, remove two to three weak seedlings, allowing the remaining strong plants more space and resources to grow and mature (also known as thinning). For winter melon, plant two to three seeds per mountain, with hills spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. Once the plant grows to about 2 inches tall, each mountain maintains its strongest seedlings.

In container

If you plant summer pumpkins in a flower pot, you will need containers of 4 to 6 gallons and depths of 8 to 12 inches. For winter melon, it is suitable to use larger containers of 8 to 10 gallons and a depth of at least 12 to 16 inches. Plant one plant per container.

Be fertilized

Pumpkin plants thrive in fertile and well drained soil, rich in organic matter, with ph values ranging from 6.0 to 6.8. To improve soil fertility and structure, you can add compost, aged fertilizer or other organic materials. However, both winter and summer pumpkins may require additional fertilization to achieve healthy yields. Select fertilizer according to soil type. Otherwise, please use universal fertilizers such as 10-10-10. Generally speaking, the application of fertilizers is divided into two parts. Firstly, during planting, and secondly, when the plant begins to bloom or produce vines.

After planting, summer squash usually takes about 35 to 45 days to bloom, while winter melon may take longer. Therefore, when you need a second fertilization, this may be slightly different.

Harvest time

Generally speaking, summer pumpkins are harvested when they are young and tender, about 60 days after planting, when they grow 4 to 7 inches. However, it depends on the variety.

On the other hand, winter melon is harvested within approximately 80 to 120 days, when the fruit is fully mature and has formed hard skin that can resist nail scratches.

Professional tip: You can harvest summer pumpkins every other day to promote new growth.

Pickled winter melon

When you harvest winter melon, place it in a warm and dry place with a temperature between 10 and 14 degrees Fahrenheit for about 80 to 85 days. It will heal cuts and scratches, and form a cork layer on the wound. For this, you can use a heating cabinet or a garage. Use a small fan to maintain proper ventilation in the storage area. After pickling, store the winter melon at a cool temperature as described above.


You can store summer pumpkins at 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for up to a week. Firstly, clean fresh summer pumpkins with cold water to remove soil particles. Then, dry the pumpkin and store it in a sealed plastic storage bag or refrigerator in a sealed container to lock in the moisture. If you want to keep summer pumpkins for a longer time, please store them in dry, frozen, or pickled form.

Storing winter melon

You can store thick skin winter melon at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 75% relative humidity for several months. However, the shelf life of winter melon varies depending on its variety. For example, walnut pumpkins can be stored for two to three months, while sweet meat pumpkins can be stored for up to four to six months.


According to Oregon State University, before storing winter melons, immerse them in water at 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for about<>minutes, disinfect the fruits, and immediately store them in a cool environment.

The storage area should be well ventilated to prevent water from accumulating on the fruits and causing them to spoil. In addition, store winter melons on shelves instead of on cold floors, otherwise they will quickly spoil. Do not store winter melons near mature fruits as they release ethylene gas, causing them to turn yellow and shorten their shelf life. In addition, regularly check winter melon for signs of decay and discard the fruit to save other fruits.

Eliminate chaos

Although winter melon and summer pumpkin are delicious and nutritious vegetables, they have some key differences. The skin of summer squash is soft and succulent, while the covering of winter squash is thicker. They have different planting times, spacing requirements, and storage requirements. By understanding these differences, you can make wise decisions about planting and taking care of your pumpkin plants at home.