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2014 Pumpkin Patch Thread

51051 Views 639 Replies 42 Participants Last post by  UnOrthodOx
Anybody started yet? Yesterday I tilled my garden and got it ready for planting. I live in south Georgia so risk of frost was gone a month ago. I plan on getting some seeds this week to go along with the seeds I saved from carving last year and plant Saturday. This is my second year attempting to grow with last year not going too well. I had a couple of pumpkins reach the size of baseballs and softballs but ended up turning to mush seemingly overnight. Crossing my fingers this year for at least a couple of good carving pumpkins this year.
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We bought from Territorial Seed, because they had the corn I wanted, and the flowers Talia wanted, so just made it one big order. The flowers have been working wonderfully.

Garden has about a hundred volunteers already, though I'm killing all those, figured it means the ground is warm enough to plant now (normally it's a few more weeks before I start getting volunteers) so, just got done prepping my seeds.

I've found this is the best means of starting pumpkins for me just some damp towels in a ziploc for a few days, once that starts to sprout, I transfer them to the pots.

We've got lots of varieties this year .

Neons are wonderful in that they grow orange from the start, so if I have to pick them a little less than ripe, you really can't tell. They don't get very big, about up to basketball size, and the vines are a little smaller, so I can fit more in my space. Had very good luck with them here.

Sugar, I've found the LITTLE kids love the little pumpkins to carve at the party.

Then my mini varieties. Jack Be Littles are Talia's favorites, the mystery seeds were SUPPOSED to be jack be littles last year, but were green and yellow mottled something or others, so I just saved seeds (not that it guarantees I'll get the same this year thanks to how pumpkins propagate). Lil Pumpkemon are new this year for us, supposed to be orange with white stripes. We'll see.

My Uncle plants Howdens for us as well, so I'll have some larger ones to mix in with the neon.
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UnOrthodOx, or anyone who knows, I was wondering, about how big do the Sugar/Pie pumpkin plants/vines get in comparison to larger pumpkin vines and mini (JBL) pumpkin vines? Right now, I have been doing the JBLs simply because I can grow them upwards and take up a small area of space...but I was wondering if the Sugars/Pies would also be possible to plant in a smaller area. I have some sunny area in my back yard...just not enough to plant full size pumpkin vines. I've been looking online to get info about size on the vines for those varieties, but I'd like to hear what you guys have to say from experience with them!
The sugars are about the same size vines as the minis in my experience. You MIGHT even get away with trellising them...I think I just might try that this year.

There's also pumpkin varieties that claim to be bush or semi bush, so they don't spread out. I don't really have any experience with them, however. "Cheyenne Bush" is a particular one that interests me as it looks like good carving size where most are on the small side.
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Transferring to pots today.

The mystery pumpkin seeds we saved didn't have a very good germination %. Probably close to a hundred seeds, I only got 6 that showed signs of life.
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Just keep the damp towel/bag of seeds someplace nice and warm. I put mine in the grow light compartment I use to grow the seedlings myself. I'm pretty confident it's not the light the seeds respond to but the heat.

Last year, we tried a NUMBER of starting methods suggested about the web. Soaking seeds prior to planting, sanding down the edges, floating seeds to see which will germinate or not, and couple others I can't recall right now. The damp towel/bag was far and away the most successful method of germinating the seeds.

They are just barely starting to push up through the soil in the peat pots tonight, probably have some worth taking pics of tomorrow.
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I've never been able to keep a fly trap alive.
Sorry, got busy. Here's the little guys over the weekend.

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Yeah, I can get cheap little things easily enough but I haven't found any really good, big pumpkins in a few years. I want another couple that are this size:
View attachment 198004
(That arm in its mouth is life-size, for scale of course...the one behind it you can just kind of see was just as big or larger.)
I could be mistaken, but that appears to be a smallish atlantic giant pumpkin. Big max usually has smaller ridges and is more orange. My uncle plants atlantic giants ever year, and while I don't use them at home anymore, they regularly get that size.
Burpee is having a "free shipping" sale. I bought my white (Lumina) variety from them.
Good luck with the Lumina pumpkins. Our first year, they were just fantastic, outproducing all our other varieties. The second year they were the worst.
Mine for today:

Nothing yet for the JBL or Big Max boxes yet. But I shall be patient :)
I had so many seeds, I couldn't peat pot all my JBL's back more than a month ago, so I just put those I couldn't straight in the ground. After weeks, I just wrote them off, but they popped out today, so you never know.
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If someone knows the mysterious forces behind the forum, please lobby to have this thread "stickied." This thread is already one of the most active current threads going, plus it will make it easier for us pumpkin growers to find.
Moderator hat on:
This comes up occasionally in many a worthy thread each year. We prefer to have a more organic approach to our organization. Frankly, there are many worthy threads for sticky consideration, and we would soon have full pages of stickies if we were to pin them all.

Moderator hat off:

Don't fret, as you say, this is already a very active thread, it might fade a bit during the middle of summer, but it will find it's way back up top by harvest, no doubt.

(reminds me, I'm due for new pics...)
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I'm going to follow you guys.I want to try and grow my own next year but I have no idea where to start. Any advice? Thanks!
It's not too late to start some for this year you know...

Best place for general information. http://www.allaboutpumpkins.com/index.html

Decide whether you want a carver, pie, or mini variety.

Carving: Connecticut Field and Howden are two widely available varieties that produce good sizes, and are likely what you find in your local grocer. They are practically weeds, and easy to grow once you get them started. Personally, I like Neon or the closely related Old Zeb varieties. They don't get anywhere near as big as the others, and can be a bit more difficult to start right in the beginning, they are a good all round variety for pie, carving, or seed eating, and are easy to see growing as the fruits are orange from the get go, not green like most pumpkins.

Pie pumpkins: Generally smaller than a basketball, you tend to get MORE PER VINE than a standard carving variety, but they will be small. They have higher sugar content, and some can be a little tricky to grow. Sugar pumpkins are pretty easy to grow and are cute little pumpkins for painting or carving. Taste wise, I like Cinderella pumpkins, but they can get tricky, don't like our heat too well. I managed to compensate for that by planting them in part shade.

Mini/ornamental pumpkins. Jack Be Little is pretty much the go-to starter variety here. They are prolific producers with many per vine, and get that great shape and color. Easy to trellis up for a smaller area. Really, you just can't go wrong with these.
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I'm real interested to see how yours do, that cinderblock planting is such a great idea.

Our garden as it stands:

The Mystery variety, going to trelis up the fence.

JBL's on some curby trellis I found.

The new Pumpkemon seem to be growing quite well.

Going to try to trellis the sugar pumpkins as well, which we have 3 rows of.

Our neons are in one row, about 4 ft apart along the edge of the other garden, probably 20 plants total.

Just thinned out the first batches of corn. Tried to stagger the plantings, but these first two popped up together anyway. We have a third in the ground already. Note the drip line irrigation, lots more of that to install as we plant the corn. We're hand watering until it all gets installed.

The "sunflower house". My daughter was given a packet of seeds and a little book on these at school, so we figured we'd give it a try. Assuming they all grow big and strong, it will make a nice end to the corn tunnel this year as well as her play house later in the summer. ~7' diameter.

Tons of roma tomatoes. We tried bottling our own tomato sauce last year, just run out, and going back to store bought is rather painful, so more than triple the tomatoes we've planted before.

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5 years ago, if someone would have told me I was going to dig out ~20'x150' of grass to make a garden, I'd have called them crazy.

Ironically, it was growing pumpkins the first year in our little 20x40 bed, hooked the boss (my wife), and we keep finding ways to squeeze more gardening in since. The large bed is still not where I want it. It's only in it's 3rd year, and it keeps getting easier and better soil quality the more we work it, but we're still fighting the grass pretty hardcore over there in spots, and have a ways to go on soil quality. Initially had a crazy idea to grow the entire display in our garden. I think that's probably not entirely possible, and we like the corn too much to go total pumpkins. I'm about ready to dig out the entire front lawn for gardening...
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...oh, and a question for anyone who may have had this happen...I went out to check on my pumpkin seedlings and I noticed that my seedling in the large pot on my patio had lost it's first true leaf. I have no idea how, it just broke off right under the leaf...I'm thinking, possibly, because it got windy over there while I was gone today. I was heartbroken to see that. It still has other leaves starting to grow, but, will the loss of that first leaf cause it to not vine out it's primary vine?? Thankfully, I had a straggler seedling pop up recently, so I ended up with one extra to take it's place should I need it to...but it'd be nice if I knew it still had a chance to be a good, producing vine. Trying to decide if I should just discard it and concentrate on the new seedling or give this one a chance...
My kids have stepped on half mine this year, crushing vines breaking leaves, etc, and they come back fine, I ran the tiller before planting corn and half the unwanted volunteers just come right back laughing it off. I'd say give it a shot, it'll probably be fine this early on.
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Some day, I'll get around to building raised beds...

Our garden today. Lessee, that first row is the pumpkemon, sugar pumpkins behind that. The last 2 rows are random stressed out plants I almost tossed, but got the fence posts on the cheap so planted anyway, they are currently struggling.

The Neons, and the corn (which needs some weeding), getting our irrigation lines run.

Some random bugs from the garden:

Soldier fly. Probably one of the Gems, green gem, black horned gem, etc. Pollinator.

Long Legged fly, predator.

Black stem weevil, sunflower pest.

Harvestman. (not a spider)

Ladybug larva.

One of our 3 pet monarch caterpillars. Excited to see them back this year.

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Timing's about right for the squash bugs to be waking up.

Quick Questions:

1. Any tricks on getting the vine to grow in the direction that you want it to?

All of my baby plants are growing straight up and I have no idea which direction that they naturally want to grow in.

2. Should I give the peat pot any help in falling apart in the soil?

I was thinking that I could put hole in the bottom or cut it out. But maybe I am over thinking it, and the pots will tear away quickly in the ground.
1. I move mine where I want them once they start growing. Just gently handle them, and lay them down where and how you want.

2. My philosophy: If the roots are already breaking through the peat pot (and a lot tend to), I just leave the pot alone. If NOT, I mutilate the pot by soaking it in water for about an hour, and it pretty much just disintigrates in your hands, no cutting needed, just gentle prodding with the fingers.


Now, back at the commercial farm, our planting philosophy was, I kid you not...

Step on shovel, pull back, making little slit/hole.
Tear the peat pot off, SHAKE OFF THE DIRT, drop in hole, pull out shovel, and stomp to close hole.

It worked.

I wouldn't suggest it in a garden setting, but there you go.
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That's usually one of two things.

Vine borer, for which there is very little you can do beyond systemic pesticide.

Or, mildew.

Judging strictly by the whitish spots, I'm going to guess this is mildew. Might bot be the case as I can't be sure from the pics. If you know those spots to be something else, please share that info.

Assuming Mildew:

If it's been raining heavily, well, you can't help weather. If you're watering, it's too much, and you should avoid watering in the evening, and water only at the roots if possible, not broadcast over the leaves. The more humid your location, the more that matters, and from what little time I've spent in GA, humid seems to be the ordinary there.

Now, you're going to want to hit those with a fungicide if at all possible for you. Read up on the available ones in your local hardware store and choose one that's going to be cost effective for a strict regiment of application schedule. You might want to consider Neem oil if you have it available, as it also acts as a pesticide, so you kinda get 2 for one. (Neem is not a systemic so won't do a thing to the borers)

Do not fret. I kept a host of pumpkins nursed from july through setember with mildew last year. It's not a game over situation.

Outside shot it's a whole lot of squash bugs, but I'd think you'd notice that...
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Last year I got some powdery mildew and I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of fungicides, neem oils, chemicals, ect. So, I decided to try the milk method. Just mix a little bit of milk into a spray bottle of water and spray all surfaces of the leaves, top and undersides, once a week or so. Spray in early, sunny hours so it can dry onto the leaves. The milk helps to fight off the spores attaching to other leaves, like a preventative. They say the milk also acts to support the immune system of your plants, too, so it's doubly beneficial. Surprisingly, it seemed to help my small patch. Baking soda sprays work, too, with other additives like water, dish soap, oils, ect...but I stick with the milk, water, and sometimes a tiny bit of baking soda mixture and it worked nicely for me to slow the spreading of the mildew. It's inexpensive, using tiny bits of stuff I already have in the house, organic and safe. You can look it up online, there are many sites that talk about it.
I've heard of the milk and/or baking soda recipes before. Milk didn't work for me, and the studies I've seen that tested it was always using whole milk straight out of the cow. Wouldn't hurt to try it, but there's enough variability in the method to have a backup plan in case it don't work. I think it's most likely differences in how the milk you use is processed that determines whether it will work or not.

I've come to use neem oil myself, as it's organic, and the pesticide portion of it only effects those insects that are munching on the leaves, not the host of predators I like to keep around the garden.
hmm, we drink 1%. Maybe that's the difference, who knows?
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