Pumpkin’s Progress: Growing Like a Weed

Pumpkins grow like weeds. That’s a good thing. Within days of planting, flat, white seeds crack under the warm soil and  sprout. Cotyledons give way to true leaves and off they go. Leaves and stems shoot up so quickly that if you stood still awhile, I’m sure you could see them grow.  I’m a fan of every stage.

The size of the leaf is a good indicator of the size of the fruit to come.True leaves are prickly and so are the stems, which are hollow. They remind me of large, green drinking straws. Stems and leaves lead you to think you have a small shrub on your hands, but then strong, curling tendrils appear and the plant takes off down the garden path, up the trellis and around the bend.

A decade ago, before we knew a thing about growing pumpkins, a self-seeded vine grew across the path, into a  garden bench, and out the other side. It eventually set fruit, a lovely, heart-shaped pumpkin that hung from the garden bench door. We left the door open the rest of the season, delighted at the rambling pattern and the speed at which it grew. My boys were 3 and 6 that year, so you can imagine the daily joy of discovery. We headed out back in those early fall days to see what those pumpkins were up to.

It’s been such a pleasure growing this year’s crop in EarthBoxes™. They’re right outside my kitchen window, so I see them several times a day. We sit on the deck in the evenings and on weekends, and now feel like we have a ‘fourth wall’ on deck. The pumpkins and sunflowers together formed a beautiful screen.

Here’s a look at their progress since early May.

May 3, 2014

May 3, 2014

My stenciled EarthBoxes™ planted with three types of seeds: an assortment of saved seeds from last year (the mystery box) along with  Botanical Interests ‘Jack-o’-lanterns’ and ‘Luminas’.

May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014

Hearty seedlings in just one week.

May 30, 2014

May 30, 2014

About thirty days in, and look at them grow. You can see the start of the sunflowers near the lawn, also started from seed. I’ll write more about them later this week.

June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014

I added trellises to allow the vines to grow up as well as out. The birds land there, before diving in to the sunflower leaves. Why won’t they eat the squash bugs instead?

June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014

Golden flowers attract bees and wasps. I love spending time out there in the morning before the heat descends. It’s a challenge photographing the bees. They move in and out of the flowers with speed and efficiency. I still try though. I have about 75 blurred photos, but I refuse to give up.

July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

The vines got a bit of window dressing for Independence Day. They’re beautiful on their own, but a little red, white and blue called attention to their magnificence. They’re wilting in the heat in this picture, but a long drink after dusk set things right.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I love growing pumpkins. Thank you for following along with my gardening obsession.

20 thoughts on “Pumpkin’s Progress: Growing Like a Weed

  1. I can really appreciate your obsession! The speed at which they grow is most satisfying! I think if you stood still long enough they would wrap themselves around you and you’d be stuck there until late Autumn! I know you use the pumpkins for Halloween, but do you also eat them? I adore them roasted, as soup and as additions in various dishes……… When I lived in England they were grown as cow fodder for the winter and only the ex-pats ate them 🙂 I don’t know if it has changed since.

    Your deck looks amazing with the vines all grown – it certainly acts as a great privacy hedge!

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    • LOL…that might be a funny Halloween costume: the vine that ate the gardener. Thanks for the laugh, Pauline.

      Mike makes an excellent pumpkin soup in the cooler months, but the pumpkins we currently grow are bread for carving and have a tougher skin. We’ve also baked the small pumpkins and enjoy the savory flavor. Thanksgiving is know for pumpkin pie, which I understand is an American thing. I like eating pumpkin, though, in many forms and enjoy the seeds roasted too.

      Thanks for your nice words about the deck. I’m still out there once a week snipping away egg-infested leaves and stems. The vines are looking more sparse, but I have four or five small pumpkins on the vine so I hope to stay on top of it and keep them growing.

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      • Pumpkin Pie is an american thing but I have made it in the past and really enjoyed it too. I had a natural fermenting sourdough cookbook back in the 70’s and 80’s that I really loved. It was written by an American woman and included the pumpkin pie recipe that I made quite often. I lost that book in one of my moves and always regretted it!

        Good luck with those durn bugs!

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  2. I love seeing how quickly the pumpkins and sunflowers grow! I’ve grown both, too, and like them all, from the minis to the hugest ones (both pumpkins and sunflowers). Pumpkin Pies and Roasted Sunflower Seeds . . . mmmmmmm! ~ Linne

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  3. The photograph from May 30 reveals the loveliness that is your front porch. Nice!
    and of course, the pumpkins steal the show later on 🙂

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  4. The grow boxes look very interesting, I’ve not seen them before, beats untidy and ugly grow bags. I think I need to add some kind of frame for my squashes as they are making a bid to take over the entire vegetable garden including growing into the roses. Thanks for the recipe you sent, I think the Golden nugget are nearly ready to use.

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  5. You’ve reminded me that the ‘word’ obsession isn’t *always* a bad thing. Such a cute memory with the boys and their first homegrown, albeit, unplanned pumpkin. I could almost see you and your little blondies running out there with giggles. You’re a fun mom hon.
    I’m always stunned at how fast things grow for you, I mean one week from seed to 6″ plant is really banana’s for a northerner, LOL. It’s no wonder you love gardening. (man my coffee tastes good this morning).
    Anywho, seems like you have a lot of tents, errrrr blooms on them (hehe), will each bloom be a pumpkin then? I like what the matching trellis do for the over-all symmetry of your garden. I like when there’s hardscapes mixed with softscape. I heard those words in a garden show and they made sense to me. They called all ‘non-plant’ things like trellis’s, decking, paths and such, hardscapes. While all plants were softscaping. Together they make ‘landscaping’. Have you ever heard that?
    The gourd looks cute hanging near by too. Nice soft shape and colour…..oh natural, so pretty. Now you can watch your neighbours go by incognito…snicker. But I bet you don’t, you’d be out there waving and handing out dog cookies 😀 cause you’re adorable. xoK

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    • You are so sweet. I loved the days of wonder and discovery. I love the teen years too, but each stage is special in its own way.

      Thanks for your kind words on the trellises. They added a nice bit of structure at an easy and affordable price. Yes, the landscapers here refer to soft-scape and hard-scape. Often the hard-scape is completed by a contractor, then the landscaper comes in and soft-scapes. Of course in the valley here it’s all about hardware and software and a terrible pickup line in the eighties. “Hi, I like your software.” acck silly, eh.

      Interestingly, the pumpkin blooms are either male or female, and only the female can become a fruit. The vine produces several male flowers first and then females. The bees need to cross pollinate the female flower so it will grow into a pumpkin. Otherwise, they shrivel and drop within a few days.

      Pumpkin flowers are edible, but I’ve never really looked at them and thought, wow I should take a bite, LOL

      You might enjoy this link, too: http://www.pumpkinnook.com/howto/pollen.htm

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  6. I have your obsession too with watching pumpkins grow! I love your comment that the stems look like hollow drinking straws, and that is so true. Pokey drinking straws at that! Many times while peeking through all of our pumpkin leaves, I get poked by their little spines on the leaves. Ouch! The only difference between your place and ours, is that you do not have to put any “barriers” or “fences” up around your sunflowers & pumpkins to keep them safe from the deer. Man, if we did that here, they would be gone in a day or two. I planted a few “Red Warty Thing Pumpkins” last year “outside” the safe zone in our yard (no fence around it) and the pumpkins started to get all nice and big, then one night, the deer walked through and ate them and pulled out the pumpkins by the roots. I wanted revenge!

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    • Thank you, Cathy. I’ve enjoyed that living screen and hope to do the same with winter peas. Stay tuned. The squash bugs have stepped up their game, unfortunately. I bought some dill which is supposed to help, but it’s been too darn hot to plant. If I get up early enough tomorrow I”ll give it a try.

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