"Your Pumpkin is so Big!"

Well, it’s official. All the neighbors now know I’m the crazy pumpkin lady. The past two weeks have been great. I’ve had many people come up to me stating, “Your pumpkin is so big!” Naturally, I replied every time with a big smile because every giant pumpkin grower loves hearing those words. Today I’m going to show you some “then and now” photos, and I’ll also explain some more specifics on how to go above and beyond with your pumpkin.

Remember a few weeks ago when my best pumpkin developed a stem split?

This is what it looks like two weeks later:

 Healing stem split

I’m not sure what’s crazier: The fact that my pumpkin has the ability to heal itself like that, or the fact that the stem has grown that much in two weeks! Despite the split, the 1400 Lopresti is growing strong, and I think it is going to do just fine.

Here are all my plants as of May 30:

 1695 Gaboury (our plant at the Bangor Community Garden)

1695 Gaboury (our plant at the Bangor Community Garden)

 1421 Gaboury (Pumpkin #2 at my house)

1421 Gaboury (Pumpkin #2 at my house)

 1400 Lopresti, a.k.a. Big Momma!

1400 Lopresti, a.k.a. Big Momma!

Although the first two plants look like they’re small and way behind compared to the “Big Momma,” they actually aren’t doing that bad compared to last year. This is what my 661-pounder looked like at this same time last year:

 Using Neptune's Harvest fish and seaweed fertilizer on my giant pumpkin.

I went a step further to see just how ahead the Big Momma was compared to last year. The closest photo I could find was taken on June 15. Therefore, I estimate this year’s pumpkin to be ahead by a little over 2 weeks. I attribute most of this to the heater that I ran in the hoop house on cold nights. The other good thing is that my leaves look WAY healthier than last year!

 My 661-pounder on 6/15/14.

My 661-pounder on 6/15/14.

The 1400 Lopresti (Big Momma) has been amazing me every day. As discussed in my previous blog, I have continued to bury the vines to allow for extra root development. Despite burying the vine almost every day, I still frequently wake up to new roots forming on their own before I even get a chance to bury them!

 The photo above shows roots forming at each leaf node. Once I bury it, a root will come out of the top as well and curl down into the soil. Note how there are two roots coming from the bottom (that’s not normal).

The photo above shows roots forming at each leaf node. Once I bury it, a root will come out of the top as well and curl down into the soil. Note how there are two roots coming from the bottom (that’s not normal).

I think this pumpkin is a mutant because there is a double root that emerges at every leaf node. Normally, you have one come out the bottom and one come out the top, but I have two from the bottom and two from the top! I thought that was a one-time thing the first time I saw it on this plant, but I’ve continued to notice it every place a root forms. Nice!

As you may have noticed in one of the photos above, I have already started my pest control. I’m trying to stay away from pesticides since I grow my food in my garden as well, so I am starting with mechanical ways of killing pests. One pest is called the Japanese Beetle. They are big ugly beetles that like to eat the plants in my garden, but they tend to leave the pumpkins alone. I set up a few traps for them anyway by putting a plastic cup in the ground and filling it halfway with water. When the beetle falls in, it can’t get out.

 Japanese beetle trap.

Japanese beetle trap.

The other thing I’m doing for bug control is looking under each leaf daily. I am checking for bugs as well as eggs, and if I see any I will squish them. I don’t kill spiders since they are my friend and eat bugs. I’m generally looking for one of two bugs: cucumber beetles and squash bugs (aka stink bugs). These are my biggest enemies year after year. This year I have already seen adult squash bugs.

 Japanese beetle

Japanese beetle

 Squash bug laying eggs

Squash bug laying eggs

 Striped Cucumber Beetle

Striped Cucumber Beetle

My traps have already caught 6 Japanese beetles. We’ll see how things go, but I may look into other options if I start to get a pest problem.

I continue to bury the vine. Instead of piling the dirt on top of it, I build a trench ahead of it so that I just need to fill in the trench as the vine grows. This makes watering easier because the dirt will just wash off if I pile it over the vine, as opposed to having the vine in the trench. Be careful not to bury any of the developing secondary vines when you do this! I use cow manure and compost as my trench. Also, as discussed in my last blog, I continue to use Mykos and Azos in the trench when burying the vines. This helps the roots draw in more water and nutrients.

 Burying the vine

Burying the vine

I did not fertilize my pumpkin until it started developing secondary vines (vines that come out perpendicular to the main vine). I’m using a fish and seaweed fertilizer 1-2 times a week right now.

 Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer

The next few weeks will be spent on bug control, burying the vines, and developing a fertilizer program. We are going to have some happy pumpkins! For those of you eager to see an actual pumpkin, I expect there to be one within the next month. Last year, I pollinated my pumpkin on July 2, but I’m hoping my head start will allow me to do that earlier this year for the 1400 Lopresti.