Friday, May 6, 2011

Starting the 2011 Pumpkin Patch!

Those who know us are aware that we are HUGE fans of Fall, Halloween, pumpkins, and all that jazz. Last year, we tried growing pumpkins and had a handful of gourds, a couple of Jack O Lantern Pumpkins and some (failed) attempts at Atlantic Giants and Luminas. I blame our failures on planting at the wrong time of year (July!) because that was the soonest we could plant anything after moving. We supplemented our pumpkins last year with some that we bought from The Pumpkin Barn in Paducah, KY (a local small-scale grower). We wound up talking to the owner, a very nice gentleman, who told us he grows them for fun and lets them cross-pollinate and self-seed. He also likes to get a wide variety of pumpkins and he often has a very interesting mix to choose from. Did I mention his pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, corn stalks, etc, were crazy cheap? Definitely the best prices I'd ever seen, and he even cut us an even better deal when he saw how much we wanted to buy.

While I plan to visit him again later this year (the man has certainly earned our business for life!), I also greatly enjoyed growing pumpkins with my daughter. Every day we would look for new flowers to pollinate and check the progress of the pumpkins and gourds already going. It was fascinating to see how fast and BIG they grew! Even my husband got in on the act and did a daily walk around our patch to see how things were going. So it was no surprise when this spring, we purchased seven pumpkin varieties and two gourd mixes (large and small - both containing 11+ varieties of gourds).

Sadly, I have very few pictures from Fall last year and none of them really contain pictures of the pumpkins we had (and grew) last year at their full maturity. Such a bummer. In the interests of doing better documentation-wise, I'm going to post about my new pumpkin starts today! Wheeeee!

First: Dill's Atlantic Giant. This variety is the world record holder for the largest pumpkin ever grown (1810.5 lbs!) and typically produces fruit that reaches 400-500 lbs. I don't know if we'll quite get to that point, but it's intriguing all the same. Definitely check out to see pictures of these monsters and to order seeds, read growing tips, and generally enjoy this niche in gardening with pumpkins.

We planted ten of these! And we have another packet from last year which (probably) still has viable seed - at least another 15-ish more potential plants.

Second: Jack O'Lantern. This is your atypical, orange, mid-sized pumpkin and is extremely easy to grow. I got a couple of good pumpkins off of this seed despite the fact that I really did everything wrong. We currently have five seeds started, and plan to plant many, many more. I hope to have at least 25-ish vines of this one!

Third: Casper. This is a mid-sized white pumpkin and one of two varieties I am planting this year. Very new to us, and hoping to see good things! Started 9 seeds of this today!

Fourth: Lumina. This is another mid-sized white pumpkin and is our second variety of white pumpkin. I did not start seeds of this yet today as I am waiting for more of my planters and recycled containers to become available for seed starting!

Fifth (and Sixth): Baby Boo and Jack Be Little pumpkins. These are miniature versions of the Jack O'Lantern and white pumpkins. The pumpkins produced are very small, typically 3" across. Due to their small size, each vine is known to produce upwards of 10-20 pumpkins apiece! Should be a fun one for my toddler to "help" me with. This is another two we did not start today, but that is mainly due to their ability to mature very fast and yield fruit quickly. These will likely be June starts for us.

Seventh: Red Warty Thing. This is an odd pumpkin that should add a different color and texture to our Fall display. It look exactly as the name implies: a reddish orange with a lumpy texture. We have 12 of these.

Eighth: A large gourd we had last year (with bumps and green/orange streaks throughout) yielded several seeds for us to play with! We planted six of these seeds as more of a germination test and we plan to try to plant several more if any of them turn out!

Ninth (and beyond?): We threw all our rotting pumpkins into the garden last year to decompose. The husband recently retilled my garden, bringing many seeds closer to the surface to... sprout! We currently have 18 God-knows-what-variety pumpkins that have been lovingly transferred into some pots for inclusion in our patch. Yay!

So I have obviously taken on much more than I can handle. This should be interesting!

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