Pumpkins have always held a special place in the hearts of garden enthusiasts and seasonal decorators alike.
Yet, among the diverse array of pumpkins available, the Knucklehead variety stands out prominently.
Characterized by its distinct warty, bumpy exterior reminiscent of gnarled knuckles, the Knucklehead pumpkin is not just unique in appearance but also a testament to the marvels of nature.
If you've ever been captivated by these peculiar-looking gourds and wondered how to cultivate them in your own garden, you're in the right place.
This article will guide you through growing Knucklehead pumpkins and what to make use of them.
What is a Knucklehead Pumpkin?
After 10 generations’ worth of genetic mutation, Roy Pearman laid claim to one of the most visually-iconic pumpkin species seen today: the Knucklehead pumpkin.
The warts are not symptoms of a disease but rather an aesthetic addition to a squash that serves as well on your porch as it does in your kitchen.
Knucklehead pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita pepo family, making them cousins to the zucchini.
These pumpkins aren’t pure relations, though. They’re hybrids bred for their lumpy appearance.
These “superfreak” gourds was bred by the company Siegers Seed Company, which is now acquired by Stokes Seeds Inc. They’re also referred to as “warty goblin” pumpkins or “red warty things.”
Knucklehead pumpkins are yellow-orange in color. Their cylindrical bodies are usually symmetrical save for their green, red, or brown bumps, or “warts”.
How to Grow Knucklehead Pumpkins
Knucklehead pumpkins can take root as soon as the weather starts to warm.
It takes about 110 days for these pumpkins to reach maturity, so getting the how-to of their growth right is essential to a successful harvest.
Where Do You Grow Knucklehead Pumpkins?
You should plant your Knucklehead pumpkin seeds once the soil in your garden consistently reads at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
If summer is running late, you can start your seeds in 4-inch pots indoors.
The Knucklehead Pumpkin Basics
Here are some basic things you need to know if you're growing Knuckleheads in your garden.
At full maturity, Knucklehead pumpkins weigh between 12 and 16 pounds. They can grow up to 12 inches in length and 10 inches in width.
Your Knucklehead pumpkins will thrive in warm soil. Knucklehead pumpkin mounds between 12 and 18 inches in height will help your garden generate that necessary warmth.
Ideal Knucklehead pumpkin soil is well-fertilized with a neutral pH. That said, Knucklehead pumpkins are hearty and can thrive in clay soils that don’t retain too much water.
Because Knucklehead pumpkins enjoy basking in the sun, plant your seeds in full light or in areas that only see a touch of shade.
The ground around your Knucklehead pumpkins should be damp upon watering, not oversaturated.
Knucklehead pumpkins love fertilizer. Make sure you integrate compost and organic fertilizers into your pumpkin mounds to see the best Knucklehead growth.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Knucklehead Pumpkins
Follow these steps from spring to fall, and you’ll see a successful Knucklehead pumpkin harvest:
Step 1: Choose Your Location
Find a spot that allows you to plant bushing varieties 3-4 feet apart and vining varieties 4-5 feet apart. This spot should also receive full sunlight throughout the summer.
Step 2: Prep Your Location
Knucklehead pumpkin mounds should take up one square foot of space and have flat roofs. Keep 3-4 feet of distance between your mounds.
When building your mounds, integrate ½ cup of organic fertilizer and a quart’s worth of compost into your mound to provide your Knucklehead pumpkins with the appropriate amount of nutrients.
Step 3: Plant Your Seeds
Once the ground consistently registers at temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you’re clear to plant your Knucklehead pumpkin seeds.
If you haven’t started your seeds indoors, plant them directly into the soil at a depth of one inch.
If you’re transplanting Knucklehead seedlings, harden your transplants in advance. Plant one seedling per mound, taking care not to disturb their root systems.
Step 4: Keep the Soil Moist
Water your mounds just enough to dampen them. Repeat this dampening at least twice per week or when the ground grows dry.
Step 5: Let Them Grow
Knucklehead pumpkins take 110 or so days to reach maturity, so step back and let nature do its job!
Step 6: Harvest Your Pumpkins
When the stems of your pumpkins are no longer naturally damp and the skin of your pumpkins is stiff, it’s time to bring your harvest inside.
Remove the pumpkins from their bushes or vines with pruning shears, leaving a stem of at least 1 ½ inches in length attached.
Step 7: Storage
Keep Knucklehead pumps in a warm, dry location that ranges between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity.
What Can You Do With Knucklehead Pumpkins?
You can cook Knucklehead pumpkins into any manner of tasty fall dishes.
You can even celebrate the pumpkin in its entirety by making Cook with Haley’s Knucklehead Pumpkin Soup.
Combine roasted Knucklehead pumpkin with other fall favorites, like home-grown carrots and onions, to properly appreciate the fruits of your labor.
You’re more likely to see Knucklehead pumpkins on front porches around Halloween than at a kitchen table.
The lumpy appearance of these gourds makes them ideal for spooky designs. They can also serve as unusual additions to your fall interior design.
Facts About the Knucklehead Pumpkin
A Collage of Color
Though Knucklehead pumpkins will always have a base orange-to-red color, their warts have great potential for variety!
The green growths on these pumpkins aren’t anything to be wary of but rather a genetic variation to be celebrated.
Sizes for Everyone
While Knucklehead pumpkins tend to be on the larger size, some, like this one, don’t grow to be quite so big.
If you’re looking for a smaller Knucklehead pumpkin to place on your mantel, you’ll be able to find one!
Knucklehead pumpkins are called “red warty things” for a reason because not all Knucklehead pumpkins are bright orange but has redder hues.
Its vibrant red-orange color combined with its heavily warty texture, making it look like a "thing" out of the ordinary in the pumpkin world. Its skin resembles that of Hubbard squash.
Ideal for An Eclectic Interior
If you’re looking to spruce up your seasonal decor, Knucklehead pumpkins add a pop of strangeness to the average fall display.
Something to Hold Onto
A dried-out stem is the perfect indicator of a Knucklehead’s ripeness.
Once the stem is no longer damp, you’re ready to bring your Knuckleheads into your home (just make sure you leave yourself a handle to hold onto).
Where to Buy Knucklehead Pumpkins Online
Want to get your Knucklehead seeds without going to the store? You can get them online in seed packs.
Red Warty Thing Pumpkin
The Red Warty Thing 10-pack seeds will thrive in full sun and requires moderate watering.
Warty Goblin Pumpkin
You'll love growing these Warty Goblin Pumpkins in time for Halloween! Their unique color and look will surely spook anyone.
Growing Your Own Knucklehead Pumpkin is Very Rewarding
Beyond its whimsical appearance and textured surface lies the heart of what makes gardening so rewarding: the ability to nurture, to discover, and to bring forth beauty in the most unexpected forms.
For more tips on growing your own pumpkin patch, check out these other helpful articles:
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