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Pumpkins!

Posted by hazelinok 7 (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 23:14

Hi I am new here. I am also fairly new to gardening.

We moved to our 1.12 acres about 3 months ago. We weren't planning on doing much of a garden this year, but my son asked if we could grow pumpkins. Sure...anything to get a boy off the video games and into the outdoors! So, we quickly dug up three pumpkin mounds and planted 10 seeds. They were planted at the end of May. They are Connecticut Field. They are growing nicely (for the most part) and I just saw a few female blossoms tonight!

However, one plant is sick. It's covered with green stuff. Aphids? My first questions: should I just leave that plant alone--sort of a sacrificial plant. Or cut the sick part off? I'm scared of pesticides as I've read about what they do to bees and the environment. Will the sickness spread to the other plants? How does that usually work or is there a "usual"?

My second problem. I wasn't thinking clearly when we dug up the mounds. I spaced them well (although I have 3 or 4 plants in each mound), but didn't dig up the grass in between the mounds. We have been lifting up the vine and mowing under them. That was my plan until I realized that once the fruit grows, I won't be able to do that-they'll be too heavy. Have I messed up?

We also planted sunflowers, squash, zucchini, radishes, and cucumbers. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions! Everything is coming in later than most folks stuff, as we planted from seed and didn't get them in the ground until June 1.

I'm continually amazed at the process of putting little seeds into the ground and now having vegetables and a beautiful yellow sunflower.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pumpkins!

Congrats! I planted pumpkin for the kids, too. Hey, I don't know what it is on your plant, but I can say the OSU Fall Planting Guide recommends planting pumpkins no later than July 30. Seems many of us started last month. You're good!

I have grassy areas my pumpkin patch is now growing into. It's dirty and 'can' increase disease where otherwise the weeds won't be there, but it would seem a healthy pumpkin patch isn't going to mind a whole lot. Because mine is shooting sprouts all over the place - grass or no.

bon


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RE: Pumpkins!

It is hard to tell if they are aphids in the photo because of the distance from which it was taken, but it wouldn't be a big surprise if they are aphids. Often you can knock aphids off the back of the leaves by spraying the leaves with a sharp stream of water---I use a water nozzle that has different settings on it, and use the one that says "jet" to knock pests off leaves. Or, you can hand-pick them off the plants and squish them. Or, you can hope lady bugs will show up and eat them. Because my garden has a healthy population of beneficial insects like lady bugs that eat aphids, I generally just ignore them, knowing that the beneficial insects will eat them. In a new garden, you may not have a good population of beneficial insects yet. Sometimes it takes them a while to find a new garden, but the beneficial insects will show up. There's a couple of reasons why they might not be there right now. One of those would be that if your city or county spray pesticides at night to combat mosquitoes, they might be killing off the beneficial insects. Another would be if whoever occupied that land before you bought it used a lot of pesticides, then they may have killed off the beneficial insects. In that case, they'll return, but perhaps more slowly than you'd like.

I wouldn't say you've messed up, but it depends. If you are in an area with an HOA that has strictly-enforced mowing rules, you may find it hard to comply with those rules around the pumpkins. There's a couple of things you can do. 1) Lay heavy, thick cardboard (the sturdy cardboard cartons that furniture and applicances come in are great for this use) on the ground around the pumpkin plants and put mulch on top of it. That will smother the grass and keep it from stealing water and nutrients from your pumpkins. 2) Lay thick black plastic (4 or 6 mm would be better than 1 or 2 mm) on the ground instead of cardboard, and pile mulch on top of it. The downside to mulching is that squash bugs, which are a persistent pests of all cucurbits (though they definitely prefer squash plants) can hide in the mulch. Still it might be your best option at this point. FYI, all pumpkins are squash but not all squash are pumpkins, so when we talk about squash pests or diseases....those do apply to pumpkins.

There are different schools of thought about what to do with a sick plant part. I hate cutting off leaves because the leaves are the photosynthesis factory that provide the energy to fuel the plant growth, including giving it the energy to make fruit form, develop and enlarge. Every time you remove a leaf, you are decreasing the plants' capacity to grow. I'd rather try to get rid of whatever pest is on the leaf instead of getting rid of the leaf. If a leaf starts dying though, you might as well remove it. Whether to leave a plant in the ground or to yank it out if it seems to be having insurmountable pest or disease problems is a decision only you can make. If you let a sick plant stay, whatever is bothering it can spread to other plants. On the other hand, if right now you only have 3 plants and 1 is infested with aphids, where will the aphids go after you remove that 1 plant? Aphids are just trying to eat so they can survive, so they'll pop up on another plant. Removing entire plants because of a pest infestation sounds logical at the time you think about doing it, but then you have to ask what happens when that pest shows up on the next plant, or the next one. Eventually you will have removed all your plants. Try to find ways to get the pests off the plants instead of removing the plants themselves.

Leaving grass in between hills of plants is not a good idea. First of all, the grass roots will compete with your vegetable plant roots for nutrients and soil. Secondly, grass encourages some insects to stick around. Third, unless you're out in an unincorporated rural area, it is likely your municipality has mowing rules and won't be happy if you have grass 2' or 3' high growing around your pumpkins. If you live in a community with an HOA, this will be even more of a problem. Eventually the pumpkin plants will get so big that their leaves may shade out the grass growing beneath them. Finally, if you are in a rural to semi-rural area where venomous snakes are fairly common, letting grass grow around the pumpkin plants allows snakes a place to hide, making them harder to find/see when you're out working in the garden.

Letting grass grow around garden plants is one of those things that is sort of a slippery slope. At first, you don't mind because the pumpkin leaves are so big and beautiful and healthy and the vines are running everywhere. Then, the grass just keeps growing and growing and growing. That short grass you were ignoring in the beginning can get one or two (or four or five) feet tall in an amazingly short period of time and you find that the grasss is shading the pumpkin leaves. Once the grass is that big, what are you going to do? Can't mow it. Cutting it with a string trimmer is risky because you're likely to hit the desirable pumpkin plants and damage them.

The biggest issue I have with leaving grass near garden plants is that it encourages grasshoppers and other pests that frequent grasslands. You really don't want to do that as grasshoppers can do a lot of damage to your plants pretty quickly.

A healthy pumpkin patch filled with weeds and grasses is not likely to remain healthy or productive for very long, so I'd encourage you to do to what you can to either remove the grass, or to bury it under mulch or to smother it.

Just today, we drove by a home near us, and I saw that they had let their garden revert to grass. Back in June, they had a beautiful garden with neat, tidy rows. It all was nice, neat and beautiful and, presumably, very productive. Today I noticed you cannot even see the garden plants because of grass, ranging from waist-high to head-high, that has taken over the garden. I imagine they never intended to let the grass take over, but grass is that way....ignore it for a week or two and it goes from being the height of a ground cover to the height of a shrub or small tree.


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RE: Pumpkins!

Hazel, welcome to the forum.

It sounds as though your lawn is about the same size as mine. I also grow the same way as you describe. I grow vining crops in bed and the vines try to take over my lawn. I had rather not grow them that way, but, they take up so much space it seems so much better to just mow around them and clean up the mess in the fall. I have sweet potatoes, watermelons, squash, and cantaloupes that I mow around.

I grew Old Timey Cornfield pumpkins and Seminole pumpkins last year much the same way as you are growing them and had a very large harvest. I hope your pumpkins are not as productive as mine were or you will be up to your ears in pumpkins. I finally stacked mine at the end of the driveway and put a "FREE" on them to get them hauled off.

You may want to spray your aphids with a water hose, or spray them with soapy water. I have aphids every year but they are not near the problem for me as squash bugs of spider mites.

Thanks for posting the picture, you will find that you want to try different planting methods each year, that is part of the fun of gardening.

Larry


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RE: Pumpkins!

insecticidal soap will get them or some yellow sticky traps. Squash bugs are the biggest problem with pumpkins they are about half inch long grey to black looking (stink bugs) and lay clusters of bronze eggs on the leaves mostly on the under side but some on top also the soap won't affect the eggs but will kill the adults and nymphs but must be sprayed directly I use the sticky side of masking or duct tape to remove the eggs you can also smash them but it tears up the leaves if you see a lot of adults and can get a hose to the patch use a hose end sprayer with soap any dish soap works and soak everywhere you can checking for eggs is a must to keep from getting over run with the little buggers


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RE: Pumpkins!

Thanks for the welcome and ideas/advice.

Probably next year we will have chickens where the pumpkins currently are. We're still trying to figure out how we want to lay everything out.

Dawn, we have an HOA, but we call our neighborhood Hillbilly Acres--about anything goes around here. I suspect the HOA fee is used to maintain the roads and lagoon system? Haven't been to a meeting yet. They call this area "no man's land". It has a Norman address, but isn't really in Norman and it's not Norman schools. And Norman doesn't send trash trucks here. Which reminds me that I may have some composting questions later.

Do squash bugs bite? I've come across 4 or 5 and quickly grabbed them and squashed them. It seems I never have my gloves on when I see them. They were on the yellow squash and zucchini though, not the pumpkins. Because I only have 2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini plants this year, it's fairly easy to check them over for bugs and eggs. I've been scrapping those coppery colored eggs into a bowl of water--trying not to damage the leaves.

I'm starting to see lady bugs!

About the soapy water, I THINK I damaged one of the yellow squash. It seemed to burn up after spraying it. It's sprouting new leaves though. It's possible the soap I used is too strong--it's one of those "power clean" dish soaps "the power of overnight soaking in 3 minutes..."

Sorry about the cruddy picture. My camera isn't great.


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RE: Pumpkins!

Hazel, there are a lot of thing you can do if you like growing plants the way you are growing them. The first thing you need to do is try to make them look pleasing. Mulch is one of my most handy tools, but, because I want the free stuff, I don't always have it on hand.

This is a picture of my front lawn. I don't live in town so I can get away with about anything. The watermelons look a little trashy because this is only the second year for this bed.

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My sweet potato bed is almost in my front door, I was standing on my front porch when took this picture. There are spring and summer booming flower in the sweet potato bed, so it looks pretty good most of the year. It has taken a few years to build my sweet potato bed, and it did not start out looking this nice.

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You can hide a multitude of gardening sins behind plants or a privacy fence. Sunflowers and Zinnias work well to hide things you don't want people to see. Here I am using tomatoes.

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I no longer live in town, but my gardening practices are still the same. I just had to do a better job at hiding things the 40 years I lived in town.

Larry


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RE: Pumpkins!

Ok, Larry, what kind of harvest do you get from a sweet potato bed that size?! I grew them in front last year, too, in a planter under a tree. I had extras and only planted them to have something besides weeds there. I got a small harvest from a bed in back. I don't know what variety they were, because I bought plants, DH did the planting and tossed the tags. I wasn't impressed with the taste. This year I planted Beauregard, but the soil I put them in was awful. Moved them this week to the dirt the regular potatoes were in.I don't expect much. But I wondered what you get from a bed like that? How many slips do you plant. I would love to be able to grow enough for us for a year. Of course I can't grow it in front under the tree, LOL. There is lettuce getting ready to bolt there now.


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RE: Pumpkins!

I'm glad you don't have one of those HOAs that want to tell you what you can and cannot plant. Lots of gardeners get into big battles with their HOAs over planting issues. So y'all live in "not Norman". lol

I'm in a rural unincorporated area and can grow whatever I want, however I want, whenever and wherever I want, which suits me just fine. It sounds like you will be able to enjoy the same freedom there.

Not long after we moved here, I saw a news story about an HOA in the D-FW meto area (we had moved here from there) that made a resident remove their sunflowers because the flowers stuck up above the wooden privacy fence and, apparently, in that neighborhood you only could grow sunflowers if they stayed shorter than the fence. I couldn't believe it. How could anyone be offended by the sight of sunflowers?

I've never been bitten by a squash bug, so I am not sure if they bite, but lots of bugs do bite, so I think it is possible.

If you run into squash bug eggs that are stuck so well to the leaves that you cannot scrape them off, you can cut out or tear off the piece of the leaf with the eggs.

Most dish soaps are not actually soap. They are detergents and never should be sprayed on plants. I realize tons of people do it, but the plants can burn, particularly in our very hot climate with its intense sunlight. Most people mix up their own soap formulas and use them---until they burn the plants, and after that they either don't use soap at all, or they buy a commercially-formulated insecticidal soap (less likely to burn plants since it is formulated to be sprayed on them, but still burns if used at high temperatures) or they buy a vegetable-based castille soap and mix up their own. I like Dr. Bronner's soaps and currently have two bottles in my shed---Peppermint and Lavender. I rarely spray them on plants though.

Composting is simple. People try to make it harder than it is. To put it simply, the easiest way to compost is just to pile stuff up and let it rot. I don't get fancy with composting and produce tons of it per year because I have big garden areas that need lots of compost added to keep the soil in good shape. Anything that once was alive can be composted, but I avoid meat products/by-products because they can cause issues. So, fire away with your list of compost questions when you're ready to ask them and I guarantee you'll get lots of great info from everyone here.

Larry, Your place has never looked trashy not even on its worst day ever, and your melons don't look trashy to me. Do gardens with weeds that are head high look trashy? Probably, but I don't think "trashy" when I see one....I just think how sad it is that someone let the Johnson Grass and other weeds take over what was a lovely garden spot just a few weeks earlier. We're out in the country, though, and homes are widely spaced so often you cannot see people's homes or gardens from the road....or they are so far back from the road that you cannot see the detail.

Dawn


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RE: Pumpkins!

Amy, the first year I tried to grow sweet potatoes for food in this bed (I first grew them for ground cover). I planted 15 slips and must have harvested 150 lbs of sweet potatoes. I got about 10 or 20 pounds more than shown in the wagon. I increased the size of the bed and amended the soil heavily and have never been able to match harvest per plant since.

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I need to do some backtracking and figure out what to do to get the harvest per slip back up to where it started out. It appears that you can get the soil too good for good harvest. I have 36 slips planted in that bed now, and I expect no more harvest than I got from the 15 slips I planted in 2010. I mostly grow Beauregard for food sweet potatoes.


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RE: Pumpkins!

Larry, It is true. You can get the soil to where it is "too good" for a great sweet potato crop. They thrive in poor soil, although they do better in poor sandy soil than in poor clay soil. Sometimes it is hard to improve the clay enough to get a good sweet potato yield without improving it so much that you get more foliage than taters. With well-drained sandy soil, all you have to do is add a little organic matter, and they produce like mad.

You'll get the best sweet potato harvest from soil that has a low percentage of organic matter in the soil, so the best soil for them would be a sandy loam with no more than 2-3% organic matter in it.

I have found it challenging at times to amend the clay where it will drain well enough but to not amend it so well that the sweet potatoes produce mediocre yields. My best sweet potato crops come from the sandy soil at the west end of the garden, but I have to rotate them every year in an effort to hide them from the voles, so sometimes they end up growing in improved clay, and the yield drops in the well-amended clay.

This year we built two tall raised beds lined with quarter-inch hardware cloth to exclude the voles. I raised Irish potatoes in one and sweet potatoes in the other, and was careful to fill them with a sandy loam blend that was mostly sand and not too much loam, at least in the sweet potato bed. The soil was richer in the Irish potato bed. The Irish potatoes produced huge yields, but it remains to be seen if the sweet potatoes do the same thing. The foliage looks great, but I have no idea if I got the soil mix lean enough to get good yields. We'll know in a couple more months. If the sweet potato yield in the new bed is low, I'll just add more sand to it until the yields improve. I also don't fertilize my sweet potato plants since that tends to result in too many vines and not enough sweet potatoes.

Dawn


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RE: Pumpkins!

Larry, your garden is so pretty. Nothing looks trashy in any of the pictures. Thanks for sharing your ideas and pictures!


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RE: Pumpkins!

Dawn, Hazel, thanks for your vote of confidence. I do feel things are trashy, I just cant get things done like I use to, and have to hire many things done now. My granddaughter has worked for me two days a week the past Two summers. and Madge's son helps by trying to finish the building projects. It is the pits to have to rely on someone else. I wanted to spend more time with my granddaughter because she is so eager to learn, but maybe she should be teaching me. She turned 17 last month and scored 29 on her S.A.T. We had 1.5 inches of rain today, along with strong winds. Tomorrow will be her last day to work and it looks like she will be checking for, and maybe repairing wind damage.

Larry


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RE: Pumpkins!

Larry, when I was 13, my mother knew I wanted to learn how to hunt; something my father didn't do. My mom knew a lot of people, and one day she pulled into the driveway of a certain Clarence Mauser. Not having a shy bone in her body, my mom introduced herself, saying, "You don't know me, but I'm friends with your cousin, Annie Vernell. I know you like to hunt and that you're not hunting anymore because you don't have anyone to go with you. Well, I'm here to make a deal with you. If you'll teach my son, he'll hunt with you."

He taught me to hunt and to trap. But more than that, at age 72 he became my best friend. I was over at his home every day, after school for about four years. I helped hiim garden, as he was unable to get out there for most of each summer, due to allergy problems. He was really allergic to ragweed and lambs quarters pollen. It affected him like poison ivy. So, I picked and weeded a lot for him.

Hands down, I think I got the better end of that deal! I learned so much and, truly, it meant the world to me to have an adult friend who was ALWAYS available. Many times, upon returning from the trapline, I'd rap on his window at 5 AM. He'd get up and put on coffee. We'd debrief before I went home and got ready for school.

I'm sure your granddaughter feels the same about you.

George


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RE: Pumpkins!

George, that is a sweet story.

I know my granddaughter loves being with me, I can see it in her eyes. She is out tying up plants now and we will go over to my parents house and do a little work later. I can drive the tractor all right but have a tough time getting off and on the tractor and hooking the chain to the objects we need to move.

I love all my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids, but that gal is special, she is not afraid to sweat and get dirty. Then she can dress up and look like a Princess.

I guess I sound just like a "Papaw"

Larry


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RE: Pumpkins!

"... that gal is special, she is not afraid to sweat and get dirty. Then she can dress up and look like a Princess. "

That's the best kind!

George


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RE: Pumpkins!

George, I love it when you tell us about the special relationship you had with Clarence Mauser. It is obvious how much he means to you even now. Your memories of doing things with him must indeed be precious memories.

Larry, Your princess is so very special. I love hearing about what she is doing in the garden. You two are lucky to have each other! I loved being with my Papaw on his sheep ranch and farm when I was a kid. Those are the memories that stick most with me now, even though I was very young at the time. We lost our Papaw fairly young to leukemia. He didn't live long enough to see any of his grandkids get married, graduate from college, buy a home or start their own garden. He would have enjoyed all those milestones so much. Still, when I am in the garden, I think of him and my dad all the time and, at least in my memories, they are there in the garden with me.

Dawn


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RE: Pumpkins!

Larry, I hope you figure out the sweet potato secret, so you can tell us. I am glad your grandaughter is close enough to help.


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RE: Pumpkins!

Hi. New question. Should pumpkins be fertilized? If so, with what? The vines are anywhere from 2 feet on the less healthy plants and probably 7 feet on the healthier ones. One mound has the longest vines. It also has a toad and large spider living in it. :) There are girl blossoms, but they are not opening and are turning yellowish--the bulb part. They are very small. Some turned yellow, then brown and then dried up and fell off.
I purchased some fish emulsion awhile back when I saw someone using it on youtube. I've also purchased bone meal. Honestly, I'm clueless on how to use these. It's possible I MIGHT have overused the fish emulsion on the squash/zucchini/cucumbers in my enthusiasm--it was like a new (but very smelly) toy. Originally, I purchased it.to use when transplanting herb seedlings.
Also, is it normal for leaves (pumpkins, squash) to turn yellow as new green leaves show up? They don't stay green forever, right? But when I look at some of y'all's pictures, you only have dark green leaves on your plants.
Thanks for your help.


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RE: Pumpkins!

I will be interested in Dawn's input on the yellowing leaves. I remember seeing this, once, when I was a kid and tried to carve a personal garden out of the "bush," in an undeveloped area near my home. I believe it did this because of really irregular (and insufficient) watering, as well as poor soil. I also wonder: are your pumpkins growing in a good deal of shade?

Personally, I would avoid fertilizing with anything stronger than a side dressing of finished compost. But if you follow the directions on the fish emulsion bottle, you'll probably be alright.

There is still time for the pumpkins to start maturing fruit. It is normal for them to abort female blossoms for a while, before they begin to "set fruit."

George


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RE: Pumpkins!

Hazel, your and George's comment interest me. I always have more than my share of yellow leaves, especially on squash. I have already lost every squash plant I have planted this year. The cucumbers are on the way out and so is my Tromboncino squash. I have many conditions to thank for that. First I have a good crop of squash bugs, spider mites, and cucumber beetles or bean beetles. This is also the first year for this bed, which was built in a very low spot in bad soil.

My approach to this problem has been to spray lightly with Bloom Booster with a little extra nitrogen added because some of the roots may have drowned when we had a lot of rain. I will not fight the spider mites. I will do what I can to fight the squash bugs. I will plan on improving the soil and drainage for next year. I will keep the plant alive as long as I can so I can harvest seeds to share and use for next year.

I also hope to see some suggestions as to how I can improve my chances with squash/pumpkins.

Here is a picture of my Trombocino, as you can see it has everything but pretty green leaves.

Larry photo DSCN1869_zpsfff540cc.jpg


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RE: Pumpkins!

Larry, I'm beginning to understand the only way to improve chances is a whole lotta work. Not real sure it's worth the effort. Come next year, cucurbits - even moschata - will certainly be on the bottom of the list. SVB and SB is in my moschata. It's still early. They'll probably be fine, but I still need to rid the plant of them to avoid them building a construction site with parking lots and high rise condominiums in the trellises for a large permanent community.

bon


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RE: Pumpkins!

Yellow leaves on pumpkins, as on virtually all other plants, are merely a sign of stress. As gardeners, it is our job to figure out what sort of stress is making the pumpkin leaves turn yellow. So, you know, when I see yellow leaves on pumpkin plants, the first question I ask myself is whether I see signs of any disease in addition to the yellow leaves. (Look at the leaf portion of the attached TAMU Cucurbit Problem Solver to see what various pumpkin diseases look like.) If I do see disease symptoms, I treat the plant for the disease, if there is a viable, organic treatment that will make a difference.

If I don't see any signs of disease, I think about how dry or wet it has been and whether or not the plants might have gotten extremely dry or extremely wet. If plants get too dry, the leaves indeed can turn yellow. Usually if that is the only reason you're getting yellow leaves, you can increase the irrigation and remove the yellow leaves and you'll get tons of new green leaves. I only have had pumpkins get too wet in a couple of really wet years---2004 and 2007. Normally, they are such big, rampant, thirsty growers that their root systems suck up all the water they can get, but in a very, very, very wet spring, I've had them do poorly in slow-draining clay.

I've never been one to fertilize the pumpkin plants once they are up and growing, but I say that with the following caveat: I work extremely hard on soil-building in fall and winter so that the pumpkins are growing in well-enriched soil that is high fertility and should be able to give the plants all the nutrients they need. My philosophy is to feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants, but it does take years to get your soil in that kind of fertile state if you start out with very poor soil, as I did. In our earlier years, I did have to fertilize the pumpkins regularly to keep them growing happily but now I don't as long as I plant them in areas that were given copious amounts of compost prior to planting. You have to be careful with the fertilizer and feed them something that doesn't have too much nitrogen, or you'll have big monster plants running all over the place and filling every inch of space you have but they won't be producing too many pumpkins because all their energy is going into leaf and vine production.

Sometimes, too, I think we all tend to forget that with almost all plants, it is normal for the oldest leaves to reach the end of their normal life and to yellow and fall off the plant. So, if the yellowing leaves are the older leaves, that might be all you're seeing.

Hazel, There can be a big problem if you lose too many leaves and pumpkins do set, so keep that in mind. What happens, then, is that as the pumpkins enlarge, there's not enough foliage to keep the sunshine from hitting the pumpkins directly and then they get sunscald (sun burn) and begin rotting. If I see that too many leaves are yellowing after pumpkins have formed, I'll give the plants a quick shot of a water-soluable fertilizer to push more leaf development and then I water them well to help those leaves grow. So, after you have tried to evaulate why the leaves are turning yellow, keep an eye on the pumpkins that do form. If you start getting little pumpkins, and you feel like there isn't enough foliage to keep the intense sunlight off of them, you always can feed the plants them to increase foliar growth. Sometimes when leaves near a pumpkin fruit die and there aren't any nearby loose vines I can rearrange to cover the pumpkin, I set a plastic lawn chair over it and let the chair shade it. Sometimes the solution that works isn't the first one that comes to mind. I've also used a patio table umbrella to shade a larger area that had several pumpkins that were in danger of sunburning, at least until the plant could make new foliage that would help shade the developing pumpkins.

Like George said, often the first flowers don't form pumpkins, but the plants will keep flowering and will form pumpkins. Just wait patiently and it will happen. I've never yet had a nice, healthy (or even semi-healthy) pumpkin plant not produce pumpkins.

If, by chance, you are in a part of Oklahoma that has had a lot of rain and a lot of cloudy days the last couple of months, that might be holding back your pumpkin plants a little. Unlike many of the plants we grow here, they tend to love the heat and sunlight and can be a little sluggish in rainy, cloudy periods. Or, if you keep getting both male and female flowers and no pumpkins, you may not have pollinators visiting your garden. If that is the issue, tell us, and we can link George's great thread that tells how to hand-pollinate squash.

Larry, If they are otherwise healthy and disease-free, I don't worry too much about pale leaves because the plants produce well anyhow but in your case, since you've had so much rain, I think they might need some more nitrogen. At this point, it wouldn't hurt to try it. We rarely get too much moisture here, but when we do, I see yellowing like that sometimes. I feel like, as you improve your soil in that new area, your plants will do better. My Seminole pumpkin plants in the 2-year-old back garden in relatively unimproved soil are nowhere near as large, healthy or productive as the Seminole pumpkin plants in the front garden, whose soil has been improved every year since 1999. I hope to eventually get the back garden soil as healthy as the soil in the front garden, but until then, the pumpkin plants never will be as happy back there---especially in a drought year like this one.

I really don't fight spider mites (as if I could). It seems like a battle you cannot win without heavy duty chemicals that I won't use. They're like grasshoppers here---so widespead in all the acreage around here that even if you can knock back their population a little, more come in every time the wind blows. I think the spider mite population peaked about two weeks ago and is dropping. They never really go away, but I think I'm seeing them spread more slowly now than they were earlier.

Bon, I totally understand your frustration. It is so very hard to raise cucurbits organically here, particularly with all the pest and disease pressure combined with months of relentless heat and, often, drought. Some years I give up and let the squash bugs win. There's nothing wrong with that. When fighting them is more trouble than it is worth, just stop fighting them. However, do remember this---if you abandon living squash plants and let the squash bugs and borers reproduce freely in and on the plants, they are sowing the "seeds", so to speak, for next year's infestation. So, when you're done with the squash pest battle, yank out the plants and dispose of them so that they don't lay around and serve as a squash breeding ground from now until the first freeze. I either burn them or bag them up and put them in the trash. I don't compost plants infested with squash pests or diseases.

I have thought long and hard about all the squash pests this year and for several years, and what I really would like to do would be to build a hoophouse, but using netting of some sort instead of plastic as the cover. I could grow squash inside of it, but without the hassle of lifting row covers to pollinate, and then replacing them, etc. Or, what if I made a new squash garden area and only planted squash there, and then sprayed those plants with a chemical pesticide? Would the world end? (sigh) I don't like using pesticides, but I am starting to wonder if that's the only way to be able to grow squash here without having to fight the squash pests tooth and nail.

Dawn


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RE: Pumpkins!

I read the other day that cilantro is supposed to repel spider mites. You can even make a tea to to spray on them. My current Cilantro plants are too small right now to try it. I have a problem with them on my herb plants. Who would think plants that should repel bugs would have that kind of problem. If its not SVBs its mealy bugs or grasshoppers or spider mites or catapillers. Sometimes I wonder how we harvest anything at all!


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RE: Pumpkins!

I can say that a hugel bed helps. The squash (and gourds) grow extremely fast. And it can be a shallow hugel in just the planting area... a foot deep filled with brush and small branches at the root zone, then some grass, straw or hay. I think I will ensure this for my favorite squash starting early next year and yank them all when the bugs start roaring.

My main problem was starting too late.


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RE: Pumpkins!

The squash bugs have done a number on the pumpkin leaves exposing the cream colored pumpkins to the sun. Do I need to shade them?


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RE: Pumpkins!

Bon, I assume you are speaking of Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkins. Personally, I wouldn't bother. I think they'll be alright. If they are cream colored, they are getting close to ripe!

George


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RE: Pumpkins!

Yes, George. And thank you. That's exciting to hear.


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