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.

Starter Pumpkins

Aren’t these the sweetest?

starter pumpkins

Starter Pumpkins

My friend Stephanie’s young daughter ‘M’  crafted  these for seed starters . She used the base of a water bottle, then decorated each one with colorful duct tape.

Duct Tape Planting Pots

Duct Tape Planting Pots

She delivered them with her dad over the weekend and I planted them today.  In one of those serendipitous moments, I realized I had an open space in the center of my EarthBoxes® just waiting to be filled.  So I tucked my newest pumpkin starter into the opening of the Jack ‘o-lantern box. It already looks right at home.

earthbox pumpkins

EarthBox Pumpkins making space for the new addition

I planted the second plant in the curb garden. It gets full sun all day, and will have a long stretch of gravel to spread out as it grows.

With some trepidation, I planted the third starter in the back. Squash bugs beware! I’ll be keeping a close on that one.

Thank you ‘M’ for your kindness and generosity. It will be such fun watching them grow.

Meanwhile, here is the progress of our deck-top pumpkins, week three. My how they’ve grown.

pumpkin plants on deck

Healthy Pumpkin Plants Line the Deck

Fabulous tips for growing pumpkins from The Older Farmer’s Almanac.

Happy Halloween!!!

Our temperatures finally dropped to a cool 60 degrees ( 16 C), and the skies are cloudy and menacing. The changes in weather lend an air of authenticity to All Hallows’ Eve. I’m happy for it.

If you celebrate Halloween, I wish you a happy haunting, sumptuous (zero-calorie) goodies, and spooky Jack o’ lantern to light the way.

I’ve had great fun growing, harvesting and displaying our pumpkins.  It’s been interesting peering inside the pumpkins that grew all summer long.  I enjoy seeing what’s been growing inside. One set of seeds has an orange/brown tinge with a white stripe around the edges.  The others are white, but vary in size.  It’s also been interesting to see the undeveloped seeds.  They’re pale and thin, instead of plump like the others.

I’ve enjoyed counting down with you throughout the month.  In case you missed a few, here is the entire collection.  Happy Halloween!!!