Pumpkins in July?

Seriously.

After my squash bug infestation a few years ago, and a follow on year resembling squash bug Armageddon, I stopped planting pumpkins for a few years. With little rain over a four-year period, those pumpkin-sucking bugs easily over-wintered and destroyed my meager crop. Twice.

Last summer, something amazing happened: one noble pumpkin grew in the middle of my former lawn. Without any water and not a squash bug in sight, the plant served up a perfectly formed and cherished pumpkin. I’ve since learned that pumpkin plants can survive on morning dew, taking in the moisture through their straw-like stems and delivering it to the root of the plant. Color me impressed!

This year we had our first season of near-average rainfall. We also installed a rain water catchment system.

rainsavers collage

Rain Catchment System

I took the plunge and bought a package of seeds. I prepared one of my Earth Boxes and waited for the temperatures to rise. The packet directions said to plant once night-time temperatures were consistently above 50 degrees F (10C) which for San Jose is usually May.

Meanwhile, seeds planted last fall by our neighborhood squirrels took root. They found a home near the patio in the newly planted, drought-tolerant garden. I let them grow of course, but figured the cold nights that followed would dash our hopes. As the temperatures rose and I planted my own seeds, the squirrel’s garden happily meandered along, pest-free and robust.

Pumpkin Vines 2016 collage

A pumpkin we will grow

One plant stayed small, and produced a single, perfectly formed round pumpkin. It started out dark in color, almost a pine green, before turning a lovely orange. The sister plant took off across the garden, racing toward the swing and sending out runners in both directions.

Pumpkin Vines near gravel 2016

The Meandering Pumpkin

The second pumpkin plant produced four tall pumpkins before the vine started dying back.

We were eager to harvest them before the squirrels stopped by for lunch. We put them in our garage to let the stems dry for a few days, then brought them into the house. Typically we wouldn’t be harvesting until September.

As I ready for my trip to Canada on Monday, I’ll leave it to my son to harvest the last three pumpkins. He’s looking forward to it. Meanwhile, the tomatoes are flush, producing a delicious crop. My new favorite is a ‘Black Cherry’, a sweet and juicy heirloom tomato that is melt-in-your mouth delicious. I’m definitely saving seeds for next year.

assorted heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes: ‘Mr. Stripey’ and ‘Black Cherry’

Tomatoes and Pumpkins in July

Tomatoes and Pumpkins in July

I’m in count-down mode: Edmonton here I come!

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31 thoughts on “Pumpkins in July?

  1. My pumpkins have been struggled as it was so cold until a couple of days ago (but 32.5 C today!!), so I definitely envy you yours.

    Have a good trip to Canada, Alys.

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  2. I thought you were already in Canada – but here you are with pumpkins instead! And no squash bugs! So, you were over watering previously and that was the reason for the bug onslaught? I’ve always thought that self sewn plants are stronger and more robust than those we plant ourselves following the rules. Nature has a way of knowing what to do if we let her, yes? Those squirrels have moments of great handiness πŸ™‚ The only issue is, will the pumpkins last til Halloween?

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    • Pauline, I wrote my post and didn’t publish, silly me. So I am indeed in Edmonton, at the end of our first full day together. We’ve been gabbing, petting the kitties and eating. We visited an art store, a quilting store and a fancy bakery.

      I need to do more research to determine if plentiful water attracts the squash bugs, or if it is just a happy accident.

      I agree that nature often does far better determining what to plant and when. These pumpkins are beautiful.

      Kept in cool, dry conditions, pumpkins will last for months. The native Americans taught the colonists how to survive the winters by teaching them to grow and store pumpkins. Too bad they repaid them with hateful, brutal contempt. [sigh]

      So far this year, the squirrels have lots of pluses in the column (planting pumpkins, leaving my swing cover in tact) though there was that cable-chewing incident.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful! And the ones in your planter? Sometimes plants just have a mind of their own, regardless what treatment they get! I suppose the pumpkins that got bugs a few years back were stressed by heat or something else making them vulnerable. Those bugs were yukky! Have a great time in Canada. πŸ™‚

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  4. Talk about plants thriving with benign neglect! I can’t believe how beautiful those pumpkins are and the tomatoes, too. Just when you made peace with a certain kind of garden, you got rain!

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  5. What a beautiful crop of tomatoes! And I love the pumpkin garden set-up. Such lovely colors. I have a pumpkin vine growing from seeds of a commercial pumpkin I tossed outside in March. No fruit yet, though there’s lots of blooms. I’m not very hopeful but I’m willing to be surprised.

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  6. For a gardener who said she was going to have no garden, you have a veritable feast going on there. It looks lovely and lush. Yes, I’m thinking too much water can be a bad thing. I’m glad you are having a wonderful time in Canada. Giant hugs to you both and let today’s giggle fest begin.

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  7. Wow, who knew pumpkins could survive on such little water! I’ve got tomato envy, yours look wonderful. We had good luck with cherry tomatoes (in a pot) finally this summer after several years of failure. The drip system made all the difference.

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    • Barbara, I’m happy to hear you’re getting a good crop this year. I love the black cherry tomatoes. I can save some seeds for you if you like for next year. Most summer annuals seem to be thirsty plants, so I was quite surprised to learn that the pumpkins could do so well.

      I’m happy to see you blogging again.

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  8. I took a time machine back and won’t that be lovely. I’d still have your visit to look forward to. It must have been a real kick to grow these without those crazy bugs. Were they horrendous because of the drought? Seems backwards, since most buggy garden things in my yard are because of too much rain, like the slugs and aphids. I actually tried to pick a slug off one of the ground covers at the curb one day and got totally slimed. Pretty gross. They look like snails without a shell. Will these pumpkins last until Halloween? It’s 6am, Jim just left for work and it’s still pretty dark out. What a change from a month ago. Our days are already noticeably shorter and the mornings are cooler now. Most northern gardeners will be harvesting and I suppose canning a good deal of stuff very soon. My sweetpeas did end up very tall after all. They’re bending over the neighbours side of the fence now. I guess June and July rains made it slow going but I’m glad I have some to bring in now. My gosh they smell so nice. xo k

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    • It’s hard to say why the squash bugs showed up two years in a row. We’ve grown pumpkins for over ten years, several without the bugs, two with and now without. I do think that warm, dry weather probably allowed them to winter over. Even when I moved my crop from the back to the front, they still managed to find the plants. I hope I’ve seen the last of them. Conversely, we’ve had very few slugs and snails thanks to the dry weather. Unfortunately aphids and thrips are causing all sorts of problems on three different plants, not far from the once-diseased and now-removed Magnolia. Ah, the life of a garden.

      I’m happy to hear that your sweet peas took off, and that you have something sweet besides yourself to enjoy indoors. πŸ™‚ Thinking of you and sending love.

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