Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pumpkin Growing 101

I have learned a few things about pumpkins this year. I grew pumpkins last year, but my harvest was a bit measly. Okay. A lot measly. Anyway, this year things are improving a bit. I did a few things differently, and it seems to have made a difference:

-I bought my pumpkin starts from a different source.
-I planted them in a different spot
-I planted a variety of types of pumpkin
-I planted them in and around my flower garden
-They seem to be getting more sun in this new area
-I've given them some extra "food" to help them grow (Osmocote)
-I've become a little more educated about pumpkin growing

When my plants started taking off, there were plenty of blossoms that seemed to not be doing anything but falling off after a few days. After reading up on the process, I realized that these blossoms were "male" blossoms, like in the photo below. Apparently, the reason the plants begin with male blossoms, is that it attracts bees, which then begins a pattern for the bees to return over and over again.

The photo below shows a female blossom. Notice the tiny pumpkin start at the base of the blossom. These blossoms are open for one day (at the most). The bee must first visit a male blossom, then visit a female blossom to transfer the pollen to the female blossom. If not, the female blossom will fall off and die, and that little premature pumpkin will wither and die on the vine. How amazing is that? 

And once those female blossoms have been fertilized with the pollen from the male blossom, the pumpkin will begin to grow and mature.

This one below is my prize pumpkin. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it is much larger than a basketball now. It just keeps on going.

After the vine starts to dye off, the pumpkin will be ready for harvest. Where the vine attaches to the stem is still green and apparently feeding this pumpkin below, so it should be okay to be out there for a while yet. I certainly hope so, as I don't know what I'd do with a pumpkin in August. They say that if you can easily indent the pumpkin skin using your fingernail, the fruit is still too immature to harvest. The shell has to be hardened, or it will likely shrivel and spoil within just a few days.

I also love that I planted my mom's harvested zinnia seeds right in the middle of my pumpkin patch. How sweet is it to see those zinnias poking their heads up through the pumpkins. And somehow I think I've got some of every color of zinnia in the few that I planted.

I mentioned that I planted my pumpkins in and around my existing flower beds. I had a few spaces open with our new patio, so I plopped those plants wherever I saw decent sunny ground. This guy below has grown about 20 feet from it's original plant base. Love, love, love it!

Incidently... this is the same angle a day later. Can you believe how fast it grows? 

And just to the rear of these flower beds, you can see my pumpkin vines doing their thing and going pretty much wherever they want to go. There is something about a vine like that, that I love.

Mixing in and around the kale. So pretty!

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