A pumpkin is a vegetable that belongs to the squash family. It normally grows off of a vine, but it can even grow off a bush or something, and some still profess to say that it can grow off a tree.
Normally, a pumpkin is a round fruit that is about a foot or more across, with ribbed edges. When cut from its vine, it usually leaves a thick green stem. It's usually orange, but it can be green or striped sometimes. The inside is hollow, with a bunch of gooey yellow pulp innards and seeds. Pumpkins are also sort of heavy, so careful not to drop it on your foot.
Pumpkins come in lots of different varieties. Giant pumpkins are very popular around Halloween contests, but I'm growing Connecticut Field pumpkins, "normal pumpkins". They're usually not as great for pies, but perfect for carving.
To plant Connecticut Field pumpkins, wait until the last chance of frost has disappeared. In Georgia, where I'm growing them, you don't need to worry too much... I planted mine in late May, but you can plant them here as early as April.
When you're ready to plant, find a large area for your pumpkins. Make sure it's a spot that gets lots of direct sunlight during the day: don't worry, pumpkins usually fare pretty well through long hot dry spells. Now you need to prepare dirt "hills"; each hill will hold one or two pumpkins, so plan how many you want first (I dug six holes). To make a hill, simply dig about a foot into the ground. When you've done that, you might want to add some compost or manure to the bottom to get some good rich soil and elevate your hill, but it's not always necessary. Then, take all the dirt you dug out and put it back in. This should leave you with a little overflow of dirt about 6 inches high; hence the hill. Place each hill about 8 feet apart from one another; pumpkins are like growing boys, they need lots of room!
You can buy your pumpkin seeds at any nursery in your area: I got mine at Pike's. Now sow 6-8 seeds 1 inch under the surface on each hill. A tiny seedling will likely sprout with one or two weeks! Eventually vines will form, plus very large leaves. In terms of care for your pumpkins, make sure to water them every one or two days. A good rule of thumb is, when you see puddles start to form, stop watering: the soil has absorbed enough water. The great thing about the pumpkin structure is, the leaves shade the soil from the environment which means it can retail its dampness longer.
There are lots of other things that happen; flowers will eventually bloom for a one day period. The vines will also start to grow like a banshee, but you can always prune them if they get unruly. Mine haven't done that yet, so I'll add to this when it happens.
July 15... My pumpkins have sprouted flowers! They're orange, and very papery thin... but they're also quite big. And yes, they only bloom for part of a day, so they're very hard to catch. The bees have been going nuts. More pictures once I ca get my film devloped!
Early July.... Growing very rapidly now, huge leaves. One has even sprouted sort of a vine.