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Pumpkins without irrigation

Posted by weirdtrev Z7 MD (My Page) on
Wed, May 16, 12 at 13:41

Does anyone out there have experience growing pumpkins/squash/gourds without irrigation? I was given a lot of space to grow several hundred plants but I likely won't have the ability to water. I know this has been done for a long time and is probably still being done, but all the management plans and field trials I have found use irrigation. I'm just looking for any tips/pointers/resources as I don't really know what to expect doing it this way. I have tons of experience growing pumpkins, but this is my first time without irrigation.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pumpkins without irrigation

The only way I have ever grown them trev. It is hit or miss during drought years. Deep soil and adequate spacing is the big difference in planting. Without a dependable water source you cannot force in dense plantings. Large pumpkins (halloween, Cushaw) I use 10 foot spacing in the row and 8 ft between rows. Then you pray for rain when pumpkins begin setting.

RE: Pumpkins without irrigation

I was hoping one of you guys would have experience with that type of planting. It is good to know that they need more space when planted without irrigation. I have about 1/3 of the field planted, and planted denser than I wanted. I did that because there are deer and I didn't know what factor they would play (so far they haven't touched anything). I can make sure to thin to the right distance.

Since I have a bit of space I was going to try out a few ideas and see what worked best. First I was thinking I would plant a row of corn 2 - 3 feet from the row of squash, whose only purpose would be to provide shelter from the heat. I chose corn because I have a lot of seed, I don't want any corn from it. I am not sure I would get much benefit since the corn itself would use up a lot of nutrients and water. I also thought I would try planting in depressions as opposed to raised beds. I know in the summer when we do get rain it comes down so fast it is mostly runoff. I figured if I create soil mounds on either side of the row when it does rain it will be forced to stay put and soak in.

I also put landscape fabric (water permeable) down because I don't expect to have time to weed the rows. I'm not sure how much that will impact the vines since they won't be able to put down as many secondary roots.

So far I have about a dozen varieties of pumpkins, ornamental gourds and hard-shelled gourds. I didn't plant any pumpkins bigger than a pie pumpkins mainly becaise I know the yield on them is low and with no irrigation I wouldn't expect to get anything from a jack-o-lantern sized pumpkin. With a small gourds or jack-be-littles I should still get a few per vine and maybe one per vine on pie pumpkins. Or that is what I hope at least.

RE: Pumpkins without irrigation

i think everything you are doing is gonna help. one thing i would do is get as much straw as you can and mulch like crazy. around here the straw this time of year is almost free. what are the soil conditions? to bad there wasnt a way to catch and store rain water.

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