As I wrote last week, I didn't have too much luck raising pumpkins this year
is it raising or growing?
That's putting it too mildly.
I failed miserably, is what I did.
Swooping in to the rescue before you can say pumpkin pie in your face is Eve Harrow.
She contacted me about writing a guest post, and as it turns out, she knows a thing or two about sustainability and all things green.
So with a minimum of begging and pleading involved on my end, she agreed to write me up a post about how to successfully raise/grow pumpkins.
Perhaps next year I'll be able to redeem myself.
And here it is....
How to Combat Pests and Grow Healthy Pumpkins
It’s a fact; pumpkins are hard to grow. Well, they’re easy to plant, and easy to feed, but if you want them to look perfect – bright, plump, orange and rounded – you’re going to need to do more than pop a seed in the ground and add water. Pumpkins take a long time to mature – around 85 to 125 days. During that time, they are vulnerable. There are many garden pests that take advantage of this and will damage – or even destroy – the plant of your orange beauties by spreading harmful bacteria and plant fungus.
The good news is, there are several organic methods you can take to prevent this damage. Hopefully, the following tips will ensure that if you’ve not had success with pumpkins before, your luck is about to change.
Grow in late season
If you plant your seeds at the beginning or middle of the season, you’ll be subjecting them to prime bug time. It’s a frequent mistake; thinking that by planting at the beginning of the season, you are allowing your pumpkins the maximum time in which to grow. In reality, it opens them up to increased risk of infection. Make sure you leave enough time before the end of the season for your pumpkins to reach full maturity, but by leaving it until the end of the high season; many of the colonies of bugs will have reached the end of their life spans. To give your pumpkins extra chance to flourish, start them off indoors so they are totally protected in their earliest days.
Pyrethrin combats squash vine borers
Pyrethrin is an organic pesticide, which can be found in many anti-insect products. The substance – harmless to humans and animals – protects the plant from squash vine borer eggs before they hatch into pesky bugs. For maximum effect, douse your entire pumpkin plant in a pyrethrin pesticide once every two days during the first week it starts to surface.
You should always keep an eye out for squash vine borers as, after the larvae are inside the plant, pesticides are much less effective. The small black and orange moths can be easily spotted grazing on the plant’s flowers, and they tend to lay their yellowish eggs at the base of plant stems. Make sure you tackle them before they get inside your pumpkin plants!
Pollination – by insects such as bees – to the plant’s flowers will aid growth of the pumpkin. You can aid this process by making sure the flowers are fully exposed. Remove protective row covers on a daily basis (first thing in the morning is the best time) and then replace again in the evening.
After squash vine borers, slugs and snails are probably the next most harmful creatures to your pumpkins. They feast on the new and tasty flesh of your pumpkins and create unsightly – and unhealthy – holes and tunnels all over the plant’s fruit. You can deter these pests by placing a layer of sand underneath your pumpkins as they appear. The dryness and blandness of the sand will keep slugs at bay and prevent them from going any nearer to your pumpkin.
For those that farm pumpkins professionally, watering is not as easy as it sounds. Many will employ the use of a farming vehicle to distribute the right quantities of water. It’s an expensive and complex business though, such to the point where farm vehicle insurance is paramount and a specialist watering vehicle or equipment is a necessity. On an industrial scale, watering pumpkins is like science.
Luckily, if you are just growing a few for fun, it’s a little simpler (and you don’t need a tractor – or insurance!) However, an understanding of the pumpkin’s ideal water intake is key. Pumpkins require a lot of water for their growth (they consist of around 80-90% water) so having the right equipment – and knowing the right dosage – will ensure you grow a family of healthy pumpkins.
The secret to the watering process is not to give it to them unless they really need it. Check the soil moisture before watering; if it is moist and the plant looks healthy, it doesn’t need watering. When the soil starts to dry out, or the plant starts to wilt, that’s when it is thirsty. In this case, give it a good, long soak.
Deep and infrequent watering is key to ensuring healthy pumpkin patches. Furthermore, water plants at the base of the stem, not on the leaves. The best time to water is at the start of the day, so the plant is fully soaked when the light kicks in. This will also help protect from fungal diseases, which are rife in dry plants during the day time. When your pumpkin starts going orange, it will require less water. It will hardly need any water during its final 7-10 days.
Good luck for next season!
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In case you didn't know it, I'm like the queen of blog-hoppin' lately. It's kind of like square dancing but without the dated outfits, smelly gym, and elderly caller.
Here's the schedule I keep:
Monday: Homestead Revival's Barn Hop
Tuesday: Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday
and Wrinkled Mommy's Tuesday Archive Link-Up
Wednesday: My Life and Kids Finding the Funny
Thursday: A Rural Journal's Rural Thursday Blog Hop
Friday: Deborah Jean's Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday
Saturday: Camera Critter's Life With Dogs Pet Blogger Hop and Country Momma Cooks Saturday Link-Up
Since today is Friday, that means I'm linking today's post with Deborah Jean's Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday, but I'll also be linking this same post up with some of the hops listed above in the coming week. Come join the fun!