Growing Pumpkins The Mountain Woman Way (It Takes A Village)

| 7/24/2010 11:39:05 AM

Tags: pumpkins Mountain Woman,

Red Pine Mountain logoThis post is dedicated to all the women like me who are new to the country, who have not the slightest clue about vegetables and believe they appear magically at the grocery store.

Last year, at the age of 54, I had my first vegetable garden. I made mistakes and learned a lot, and one of the things I learned was I love growing pumpkins. It was so easy. I put them in the ground, left them alone and voila, I had plentiful pumpkins. Okay, now I’m a pumpkin expert. I think I’ll grow giant, exhibition size pumpkins this year. And, yes, I’ll even win first prize at the fair. After all, I’ve got that perfect year of pumpkins behind me.

I searched the internet for seeds and there they were: “Able to produce pumpkins of 800 pounds.” The blue ribbon danced before my eyes. Just a matter of time.

All started well enough. I started the seeds in the greenhouse and they grew daily right before my eyes.

“You have to put them outside. You can’t leave them in the greenhouse any longer.”

“Why?” I asked Mountain Man.

kelly nichols
2/22/2011 7:46:46 AM

we should have quite the collection of pumpkins/gourds near our front steps. We've had so many things come up unexpectedly... I didn't want the gourds and pumpkins in the compost. As the fruit started to rot on our porch I chucked it out near the fence line - it should make for a good privacy crop! We trellis them... fun stuff!

9/17/2010 9:31:52 AM

Googled pumpkin images and was drawn by yours. It looks just like mine. Growing pumpkins for the first time as my 4 year old daughter wanted to plant them. Now I understand the flowers better. Thanks. Your blog really made me smile as well as informing me. Thanks from England!

mountain woman
7/30/2010 12:46:07 PM

Wow, Rodeo, that's so cool!!! I had left some pumpkins from last year but maybe the deer ate them? No pumpkin sprouts from their old resting place. I'd love some mutant pumpkins. What a Halloween treat! And carving names into them while they are growing. Wow, you are so full of neat ideas for celebrating my favorite holiday. Thanks so much!

rodeo princess
7/30/2010 8:14:07 AM

We grow pumpkins by forgetting to remove the halloween one until spring when it's rotted and sort of formed it's own little compost heap and before we know it we have the most interesting mutant pumpkins growing right next to the doorstep. What's really fun is scratching a name or phrase into the pumpkin while it's growing, and then when mature, you get a really freaky already decorated halloween pumpkin because the scratch scarifies and gets really spooky.

mountain woman
7/28/2010 7:25:38 AM

Dave, I love the idea of an Eharmony for pumpkins. It worked well for Mountain Man and me so perhaps if matched, my girls wouldn't be so reluctant to join the party. I never knew there was so much to this growing stuff either. I thought nature would take its course and I'd provide water and fertilizer. Seriously, the pumpkins are humorous but I've started to think about what it must have been like for farmers who depended on their crops to feed their families through the long Vermont winters. What happened when their plants didn't grow? My pumpkin experience has led me to think of greater things. If we were to have giant pumpkins, we would lift them with the tractor forks and put said pumpkin straight onto our truck but I'm not sure how others would cope. One of my blog readers told me about the giant pumpkin fair in Half Moon Bay, California where pumpkins travel around the world. Can you imagine planes loaded with these giants? I do need a pumpkin mentor or perhaps in August, when I visit the fairs here, I shall corner a grower and pick his or her brain. Thanks for the well wishes. I have to say the people who read my posts have brought so much joy into my life and that's been an incredible gift for me. Thank you.

mountain woman
7/28/2010 7:17:42 AM

Hi Cindy, I'm glad I made you laugh. That made my day :-) Squashettes? They sound so adorable. There is nothing better than hearing the news you will no longer be gourdless and being able to announce your anticipation to breathlessly waiting friends and family. Me, I do enjoy my days even though I keep falling down. How could I not living on such a fantastic farm with the all knowing Mountain Man. It might have taken me 50 years to get here but I'm making the most of every day. Thanks for visiting me.

mountain woman
7/28/2010 7:03:18 AM

Hi Diana, So sorry you lost so much of your crop to root maggot. There's so much to learn about this gardening stuff for sure. Thanks for visiting me.

7/28/2010 5:48:45 AM

Never checked female and male -I just got pumpkins. But I'm going to check now-maybe I'll get more! Good read vickie

nebraska dave
7/27/2010 11:23:11 PM

@MW, I don’t ever remember having to do this male female thing to raise pumpkins in Mom’s garden. All I can remember was that they just took over the entire part of the garden we planted in pumpkins. Maybe we should start an EHarmony website for pumpkins or maybe a speed dating service for those lonely male blossoms. Good grief how did pumpkins ever survive the millennia? Those giant pumpkin growers for the Iowa State Fair have been doing it for decades and have it down to a science. I’m sure it took years before they became competitive. I would recommend you try to talk with some growers at your state fair if you go this year. I’m sure they would give you some good pointers but not all their secrets to the mammoth pie makers. My only thought would be how the heck do you transport an 800 pound pumpkin? You would almost have to grow the thing on a pallet so it could be moved easily. You have already learned a lot about pumpkin growing this year. By next year you will be nearly an expert in the field of giant pumpkinology. People will come from miles around just to catch a glimpse of your pumpkins. Seriously, you are doing great for the first year without any experience. It’s great that you have an experienced mentor as a husband that is willing to teach you how to grow things. May it always be that your pumpkins grow big, your animals grow fat, and your fields get proper rain.

cindy murphy
7/27/2010 10:38:21 PM

My laugh for this evening, Mountain Woman! Thanks! My squash are taking over the garden. It wasn't a slow advancement; they took seige overnight, and are probably laying claim to new boundries even as I type. I'm not sure what they are; they're all volunteers. The suspense is killing me - gourds, edible squash, pumpkins, a weird cross of all three? The vines (and there are gads of them) could produce any of these - I just threw all the left-over Halloween pumpkins and gourds, and probably a few zuchinni in there last fall. Lots, and lots of blooms, but still no clue as to what's growing there, because there's not a hint of a fruit of any sort. All male blossoms? I hadn't thought of that. Ah...but this evening Hubs spotted one little squashette just forming; it looks gourd-like, the tiniest cute green and yellow thing. I shall not be gourdless afterall...though, shhhh...I was secretly hoping for a pumpkin. Good luck in your pollination attempts! Enjoy the day.

7/27/2010 7:13:53 PM

Oh, this is too funny. I am a new farmer, too, and lost all my zucchini and yellow squash and cucumber, all the curcubis in fact, to root maggot. You would think I could at least grow zucchini, right? Oh well.

mountain woman
7/27/2010 12:25:47 PM

Desertrat, Thanks! It's been a most informative experience. Jackie, 27 boys! Wow, your patch must be related to mine. Poor girls. The screen idea is a great one. It's hard being a pumpkin mom for sure :-)

7/27/2010 12:21:25 PM

So far the score here is 27 boys - 3 girls....and raccoons ate two of the immature pumpkins. The remaining pumpkin is now housed safely in a "box" made of window screen. So far its worked.... I can really feel your anguish. :)

7/27/2010 12:17:39 PM

Thanks for such a fun read. Now I'm off to study flower gender...

mountain woman
7/27/2010 7:24:54 AM

Shannon, I think it's the year of the boys! Yes, check for sure and if you find even one girl, you can help the process along. Maybe try to mate a squash with a pumpkin for a squashkin? I'm hoping for one pumpkin. Doesn't even have to be a giant, just one.

s.m.r. saia
7/27/2010 7:01:52 AM

MountainWoman, this was hilarious. :0) Your gardening sounds a lot like mine - by the seat of the pants and - except that I don't have MM to tell me what's going wrong! My approach to bugs has been much like your own, admire them first, worry about them when they've taken the place over. The difference between us is that I've yet to produce a single pumpkin. Perhaps because of the male/female blossom thing. Though it's strange, I have nearly a dozen other squash plants of various varieties out there, all putting out fruit like crazy - why would they produce and not the pumpkin? I'll have to take a look. Maybe like yours, mine's producing only male blossoms too....

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