Pumpkin patch practices and gourd garden grooming.
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By Chewy
Well, it's *that* time again.

Have been scheming, planning & plotting for this year's crop over the winter waiting for a break in the weather and - more importantly these days, a break in my daughter's fastpitch season. Finally had it all come together & was able to get the patch prepped for this year's crop over the weekend.

So far, we pulled the largest weeds, added 10 yards or so more soil (where does it all go?), a couple yards of peat (there's fine gravel/sand under the beds and the new rototll was actually pulling it into the soil, so, we decided it was best to add some peat to try to retain some of the moisture in the soil), and a yard or so of composted poop (yes, scientific term LOL) with a couple passes of the rototill in between each add. It's amazing how little apparant progress one can make in a relatively small space in an entire day when one steps back and, all I really noticed after all that, was how badly I need to do some weedwhacking. UGH! Another day! Just dont ask me to do any rototilling for a few days.

Anyway, there it is in all it's glory as it stands right now.

We figure the ground will be warm enough in a couple weeks to plant (it's definitely not warm enough yet according to the pumpkin experts around here, so, I follow their lead and wait), so, in the next few days i'll be starting the seedlings. Will try to get the watering system put back in place and fired up next weekend.

Haven't settled on varieties for this year yet. Thinking we'll probably stick to the exotic ones this year - will probably do Kakai (medium sized green and orange tiger stripes - with super yummy huskless seeds) and Polar Bear (large white ones). Beyond those two, not sure. I figure there's not much point using space in our patch to grow "mundane" ones when I can typically buy them as nice, or nicer for a couple bucks each - when I have the seeds and can grow some that you cant buy at the local super center.

More pictures to come as things begin to sprout around here!

Can you tell I'm excited? LOL

Last edited by Chewy on Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
Seeds in dirt. Now we'll just have to wait and see what pops up!


I went with a bit of a shotgun approach for varieties this year. And no, I don't think all 24 will germinate, nor, will I be planting all of them even if they do. I'm hoping to put 12-14 plants in the ground this year. So, will try to pick the strongest of the seedlings for that.

Howden Biggie x 8, which, according to the seed supplier is: "The standard for pumpkins over 30 lb., a percentage running over 40 lb. Shape is typically upright, though variable. Handles are usually thick and strong, but short." We'll have to see though. Have planted a few of these the past two years with mixed results. Part of the problem has been these guys have really, no, really, long vines - the primaries last year were nearly 20' long. I don't have a lot of room for many plants that big. I have done some figuring, and have a plan that should let me put the strongest four into the patch for this year without crowding out the rest of the smaller ones.

Polar Bear x 2, my last two actually. The packet for these ones only came with 10 seeds. Boo. The supplier says: "Polar Bear retains its color after maturity in the field, at market, and in decorative displays. Long, vigorous vines produce fruit typically weighing 30-40 lbs." My experience has been to get two fruit per plant, but, the second was typically pretty sad & I thinned them out. The Jack Skellington that was in my display last year was one of these guys. The kin wasn't really large, but it was crazy solid. Thank goodness for the pumpkin gutter.

Valenciano x 2, we've nicknamed these ones "baby bears" as they look a lot like the Polar Bears when they're still young, but, they stop early. Interestingly, despite being a relatively small kin, these ones have really big seeds. No innuendo intended. The supplier says "Clearly the whitest pumpkin; unique for doorstep decorations and painting. Medium-size, flattened, avg. 11-15" diam. x 6-8" tall, slightly ribbed, with a smooth white skin. Thick orange flesh suitable for pies"

Kakai x 4, yes, i'm in love with these beauties. And not just because the seeds are so wonderful to much on. I only wish they yielded bigger kins. They're definitely on the small side. The other advantage, they're more of a bush plant than a typical pumpkin plant with two long main vines. So, I can plant them in between some of the bigger ones. The supplier says "Eye-catching, medium-small, avg. 5-8 lb., black-striped pumpkins. After displaying the pumpkins next fall, you can scoop out the large, dark green, completely hull-less seeds, which are absolutely delicious roasted"

Expert F1 x 4, another large pumpkin variety. Smaller than the Howdens, but, still qualify as big, with big vines. Supplier says "...orange color and big, dark green handles. It's easy to like the appearance and yield of this big pumpkin, and we urge you to try it. Long vine. Fruit weights average 25 lb. or larger. Avg. yield: 2 fruits/plant."

and last but not least, New Racer Plus x 4. These guys are my insurance policy. They're a special variety which is resistant to a common pumpkin plant disease called PMR (or powdery mildew, which can be a pain when it takes hold - hit my patch late in the season year before last, we sprayed the plants with a LOT of milk to combat it), they're short vined so they don't take a lot of space and, they're faster maturing than the others (a full two weeks less) so, if disaster befalls everything else, these guys should still give me *something* that I can say I grew myself. Supplier says "Blocky, well ribbed and colored with a long, thick, healthy handle. Vigorous short vines produce approx. 14-18 lb. fruits. "

...and you guys thought pumpkins were pumpkins didn't you?

Not so much. My dad and I had a chuckle when he produced his seed packets. Prominently labelled: "Pumpkin Seeds".

I figure in the next while, i'm also going to order up some new seeds for next year - have my eye on one called the American Tondo; wont be able to carve it I don't think, but, it looks freaky enough all on it's own. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7489-american-tondo.aspx.
Big changes in the first plant between this morning and tonight - (well, at least big in terms of two day old pumpkin sprouts that is)

This morning:




You can just make out a couple other plants about to emerge in the second shot.

Big relief for me. Last year the entire first batch of seedlings failed for reasons unknown, when we were already late starting. This year, i think were right on schedule so far. Assuming mother nature doesn't pull a fast on on us that is.
Ahh, I love watching the progress of your kins Chewy. I had thought about growing kins again this year but I decided to plant tons of peas instead. I know its not very halloweeny of me but I just know we wont have the weather for kins and I love me some fresh picked peas!
I look forward to seeing and reading your updates and I can't wait to see how your chosen varieties turn out.
Chewy - I'm sure I've said this in the past, but I love seeing your pumpkin patch updates. Someday I hope to attempt growing my own pumpkins, but until I do I can live vicariously through your experience. I appreciate that you take the time to document the whole process, and even provide some info about each variety of crop you're attempting to grow. I hope this thread is a good learning resource for aspiring pumpkin growers. And it's also a good journal of your past experiences, which you can reference in the future when you attempt this again. :)
Thanks for the feedback guys. I'd probably keep posting updates anyway, just because I can & it's nice to be able to look back and see how it all evolved; however, the feedback is always good to hear.

The variety thing, yes, my carefully laid plan for identifying my seedlings went kind of sideways. My daughter's stupid cat, which will forever be known as "that little rat bas**rd" decided my seedling tray was a plaything for him. Found it on the floor. Sigh. I did some repairs & salvaged what I could. But, in most cases, I now have NO idea what's what. Ah well.

Actually had a break in the softball season today to get to the patch & plant today. Although, not entirely. The wife and daughter are off scouting the competition today, Ive been getting distracting updates all morning. LOL.

Had to do a fair bit of work to get it ready this morning. And that's without water. Looks like the main water line to the back 40 has a leak somewhere. No automated water this year & dealing with the broken line is another big project. For another day.


Amazing how many weeds can take hold in a short period.

Weed whacked, whacked myself with a few flying bits, turned my legs green and then rototilled again.



What it looks like now...


You can see the shredded leaf on this poor plant. Cat. I don't feel bad about his little trip to the vet a few weeks ago anymore. LOL


and last but not least...


Now we'll just have to see how they all do...
Update for early August.

Ball season got *crazy* busy at our house with Provincials & Canadian Open all going on, so, I entrusted the early care of my little babies to my parents.

Shocking they managed to raise me. I must be tougher than I look.

My mom, who in her defence, is battling a memory & cognitive disorder, managed to blow the seedlings out of the ground with multiple daily high pressure waterings. My dad was able to save a couple, but, most were killed off. On the upside, this happened early enough that he was able to get seeds in the ground & we have plants, although, they're behind again.

Weve also had record setting heat / days without rain - which im sure isn't helping

Anyway... this is what they look like right now



Surviving Kakai's


And this is part of my dad's "Pumpkin Mound"... the hose doesn't quite reach to here interestingly enough... LOL. There are a handful of atlantic giants in there, somewhere.

Don't worry about the casualties Chewy, the survivors are going to be monsters I just know it. I like the use of caution tape, it's only right to make sure people are aware of Zombie pumpkins hiding amongst the leaves. Not just Zombie pumpkins either, pumpkins that have lived to tell the tale of the dreaded hose of death!