Thursday, July 14, 2011

garden time

It's down to the wire and I am far past cutting it close but I wanted to encourage those of you in the states to plant pumpkins! July 4th is generally a good reminder for a last date to get some seeds started but I suppose if you are not going for a world record, why not start some now? One vine is all you need to produce a handful of the happy gourds and the variety out there to choose from is extraordinary so why not grab some potting soil, an egg carton and a pack or two of seeds and begin?

I have had two packs of seed lazing about a bowl in the garden patiently waiting to be dunked in soil. I also have an ENORMOUS vine taking over the yard that currently has three not-so tiny pumpkins ballooning from its curly tendrils. Methinks the seed will wait until next year. Like I mentioned up there, all ya need is one vine. They can grow massive and quite beastly but they are super cool and there is much to view when given a chance.
Pumpkin vines are prickly to the touch. Not overly painful but prickly enough to want to wear gloves or be careful when handling the beast. The blossoms open quite early in the morning and you may often find a lone bee cozying up inside. The pollen of a pumpkin plant is quite attractive to bees, I have especially noticed the awkward black bumblebees bouncing about from orange blossom to orange blossom. The stems are hollow and the tiny tendrils and leaves that form have a mightier than mighty grip as they curl about stray garden gnomes, tools and furniture.
To tame your vine, you can liberate the stems that have not produced any blossoms. If you take a gander everyday you will notice that once the flowers poop out, a baby pumpkin takes its place. Each seed will produce one vine which will sprout secondary vines. Keep an eye on your main vine and prune out the secondaries. Once your main vine gets a handful of pumpkins popping up, you can pinch off the end to prevent more from growing thus rescuing your garden from complete pumpkin invasion.
To harvest, use garden shears to liberate your prized squash. do this 5-6" away from the fruit so that you have a delightful stem. Set in a cool dry place until carving or baking time. Pumpkins like sunlight and heat so if yer getting close to frosty temps, harvest sooner than later. There are all sorts of websites out there devoted to pumpkins and they all read fairly technical-like. Our pumpkins tend to be volunteers from the compost pile so we know where they like to grow. By starting your seeds inside and then replanting a few all over the place you will hopefully find a location that the happy sprouts enjoy. The only other thing i can add (until I remember more) is that after a while, powdery mildew may set in thus making your happy pumpkin vine look a little less than happy. Stick with it and harvest as soon as your pumpkins turn orange, though we have been known to pick em green and watch them turn orange as they ripen. We also do not use pesticides and would recommend you do not either. Cucumber beetles might move in like gang busters but if yer not growing any large food crops you can simply flick them off with your fingers.
And if pumpkins aren't your thing, plant something else whether it is food (strawberries & lettuce!) or flowers (sunflowers!), getting your hands dirty in the name of gardening is generally a delightful thing.

More pumpkin growing info:

1 comment:

  1. do you have any recommendations as to what 'facing' a pumpkin bed needs (North-facing, South-facing, etc.)????
    I think I have a perfect spot by the back steps, but it's west-facing...?