Friday, October 31, 2014

Dispatch from Last Year's Pumpkin Patch

Happy Halloween! In keeping with the spirit of the day, I thought I'd share some of our pumpkin growing exploits of years past. 

Pumpkins were one of the first plants on our "must have" list for the new garden last year. I have wanted to grow them since I was a little girl when I would look forward each October to visiting the "patch" at the local farm stand co-op to select my own Halloween pumpkin. It left me with an urge, no-- a need, to grow my own. This was the catalyst to start my gardening adventures. Sadly, we didn't get around to pumpkins this year. But we did have a stellar pumpkin harvest last year which I never got around to blogging about (see pic below).

Why don't people grow pumpkins much in the back yard garden? Well, they are sprawling space sucker-uppers that are also prone to all sorts of "plague of Egypt" type pests. But they are so beautiful that you can't blame folks for wanting to grow them or failing in the attempt. 

Our early attempts definitely met with mixed success. 
  •  First: Out of a large Terracotta pot on a condo patio. Verdict: Fail. Culprit: Space and lack of knowledge (of how much space). 

  • Second: In the community garden plot. Verdict: Semi-fail (got 3 little ones) Culprit: Vine borer, cucumber beetles, and still not enough space. We also started them to early and ended up with pumpkins in late July.
  • Third: In new, large back yard garden in 2013. Verdict: Success! Eyes were bigger than my stomach. I definitely had grandiose ideas about how many pumpkins one family required. I thought, "I could plant enough to have all the kids in little one's class come pick their own pumpkin." Turns out 15+ vines creates a pumpkin sea. But it sure was beautiful last year. 

Here are the varieties we planted in 2013: 

At the top, Early Sweet Sugar Pumpkin;
 in the middle, Pontimarron;  at the bottom, Bush Butternut

And here is that old enemy, the cucumber beetle. By planting in July it appears we missed most of its life cycle in our zone.

Hopefully coming in 2015: Rouge Vif D'Etampes (Cinderella Pumpkins, yo), Squash Long Island Cheese, New England Sugar Pie, and good ol' Jack-O-Lanterns. (Plus Bush Butternut, Spaghetti Squash, and Pontimarron). Maybe next year I will have enough for all of little one's classmates. We'll see.

Happy Trick or Treating!

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