Over the summer I had some success in my new little garden. I learned the power of epsom salt and compost and dead-heading flowers. I was seeing results and I felt like I was on a roll! Eager to try my hand at something BIG, I bought a couple of Big Max Pumpkin plants from my local Farmer’s Market and plopped them into my raised garden bed. (<– I believe that was my first mistake.) Little did I know that growing pumpkins would turn out to be a such humbling experience.
My 6 year old helped me plant them, which was surprising because he had been less than thrilled about anything happening in the garden up until that point. He was excited to grow his own pumpkins to carve come Halloween time. So, we planted them and he added a sunflower between the 2 small pumpkin plants.
It wasn’t long before that little sunflower was smothered by the pumpkin vines. It died within about 2 weeks.
At first, the plants seemed to be thriving. The leaves were large and the vines were trailing. Soon, I realized I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. These vines needed much more room to grow than my raised beds could provide. They were sneaking up and creeping around and spilling into the lawn. (My husband was not too happy about that!)
New yellow blossoms seemed to pop up everyday, so I just let it stretch and grow… and grow… and grow. It took over the vegetable garden. (Eek!) But it was for a good cause; my son and I wanted some pumpkins!
After a while, these vines (a good 12 feet long or so) started to get blotchy white spots on the leaves. I did a bit of research and determined it must be powdery mildew. The weather we were having was certainly conducive to mildew and my neighbor’s plants had been plagued by the same thing. I treated it with a baking soda and water solution, which did seem to help. And the new growth was looking healthier.
When late August rolled around, I was surprised that we were not seeing any sign of pumpkins yet. Lots of flowers, plenty of bees (thanks to my oregano nearby), so what was the problem? I was feeling annoyed that this had become so much work that was proving to be fruitless. And after several weeks of checking to see if his pumpkins were growing yet, my son had lost interest in the garden altogether.
In late September, I was out of town for a few days for my brother’s wedding. When I returned… BAM!… there was a tiny little pumpkin growing. Finally!!! One puny pumpkin. But I was just happy to see something other than green prickly vines and leaves! There was still hope that we may have a pumpkin to carve by Halloween…..
Well, Halloween has come and the pumpkin vines have shriveled and died due to the frost. I cut our little pumpkin from the vine and tossed the rest of the plant into the trash. (I didn’t want to risk growing the mildew in my compost.) Our little BIG MAX pumpkin grew to be about the size of a small pie pumpkin and it didn’t even turn orange. What a great pumpkin #fail!
Looking on the bright side; my son is still delighted that we grew a pumpkin. Although it was not large enough to carve into a jack-o-lantern, it is his favorite color– green! And if I take another whack at growing pumpkins again next year, at least I will know what NOT to do!
P.S. Check out my online tutorial for a DIY Realistic Zombie Costume for Kids here!
My son picked out his own pumpkin to carve while on his class field trip to Gro-Moore Farms!
Thank you, Gro-Moore Farms!