Monday, May 3, 2010

The Great Pumpkin - Episode 2 (aka more questions than answers)

So I actually read, well skimmed really, the Giant Pumpkin Book. This is what I learned:

1. There is more to the exciting history of giant pumpkins that I have to learn. Things like the first giant pumpkin weighed in at like 400 pounds. The award winners are now weighing in at 1,400+ pounds. That's a lot of pumpkin.

2. Soil preparation is really important. I need to use manure and sea kelp plant food to enrich my soil.

3. Giant pumpkins can take up to 3,000 square feet of space. I cleared 180 square feet of space for the pumpkin plants. I need to plan for the pumpkins to take over the entire yard. Which still is not 3,000 square feet of space. I need to tell BMG I am taking over the backyard with pumpkins. I'll be standing in front of the mirror, practicing smiling broadly while I say: "Honey! I've got some awesome news. You don't need to mow the yard at all this summer! FTW!"

4. I have left the seedlings too long in their little seedling cups. I may be over watering my seedlings and they may not be getting enough food right now. (Last year my seedlings rotted on the vine because of the wet weather and my ignorance.) I need to work the sad 1.5 cubic feet of manure I bought into the pumpkin seedling prep areas, find and add the sea kelp food, and then plant these little sweethearts right away. But I'm going out of town this weekend and I don't want to plant them if I won't be home to check on them, and water them, and make sure the bunnies don't eat them. I'm anxious about the pumpkins and my ability as a giant pumpkin grower. One MORE reason I'm not a parent.

As this adventure evolves things I'm going to need to pay attention to include:
  • Fertilization of the flowers. Nature is SUPPOSED to get pollen from the stamen to the pistil, but if nature doesn't work I need to plan to fertilize by hand. Like IVF, but for pumpkins.
  • Trellising and burying the stalks to protect the fruit and encourage growth.
  • Fertilizing the fruit with more manure, more kelp and unprocessed compost (e.g. veggie trash)
  • Preventing the soil around my pumpkin from getting compacting by building board trails throughout the vine lands.
  • The pace and timing of the weight gain of my giant pumpkins. During the last 10-30 days of a giant pumpkin's growth it could gain as much as 25 pounds daily. The pumpkin should be ready by October 15th.
Things I'm now wondering about include:
  • Will the bunnies that eat my vegetables also try to eat the pumpkin? I know the kittens have been gnawing on the seedlings' leaves. Will bunnies like them too? What about the red foxes in the neighborhood? And the turkeys, ducks, and coyotes? What are the natural predators of giant pumpkins?
  • Speaking of which, how do I keep the obnoxious and violent rug rats who live next door away from the pumpkins? I may need to enlist them as partners in pumpkin care.
  • How am I going to get what could be an 800-pound pumpkin out of the backyard? If I can't get the pumpkin out of the yard my dream of an 800-pound jack o-lantern in the front yard may be for naught. Maybe I'll turn it into a carriage that can be rolled into the front yard? I may need to get an engineer on board with this plan.
  • Speaking of which, how will I gut and carve an 800-pound pumpkin? Has anyone ever done this? I'm thinking I need to begin planning the carving party sooner rather than later.
I'm going to sign off to take a Valium and practice my speech for BMG about the potential take-over of the yard by the pumpkin. More answers - and certainly more questions - later.


BobbieC said...

One of the giant pumpkin growers I read about crocheted a giant pumpkin hammock that they used to get the pumpkin onto the truck. Also, have you ever read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Good story in there about Almanzo's adventures in pumpkin-growing.

dillard said...

Oh my goodness. I had no idea that there were so many pumpkin issues in the world (and I had to laugh at imaginging you doing pumpkin ivf). I anxiously await the updates on this. And I volunteer in advance for pumpkin watch help.