Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Growing Giant Pumpkins

As things get quieter on the allotment I'm planning some posts looking back over the growing season.

As has been mentioned many many time here and on other allotment blogs - it hasn't been an easy season here in the UK and Cornwall. Wet and cold weather has persisted through the Summer, though Autumn here in Cornwall hasn't been too bad.

One thing I've had a bit of success with is growing pumpkins and squash.

These included Giant American Pumpkins that I wanted to grow especially for Halloween. Or maybe that should be "Pumpkin" singular - as in the end only one survived to become a magnificent Halloween lantern ! Read On ......

I bought a packet of seeds - and was slightly disappointed when it turned out to contain a grand total of just six seeds ! Still - they were specially bred giant pumpkin hybrid seeds. In early April I planted them in pots in the mini-greenhouse in my garden.

Four of them germinated and grew on quite nicely, the other two were - I think - victims to slugs. In May - once the plants were fairly well established I planted them out on my allotment.

Two went out on my giant "turf heap" - constructed from the turf that I cut out to create the beds on my plot. A nice elevated spot - I thought - with plenty of sunlight and less likelihood of pests getting to the baby plants. Wrong !

Within a few days they had been completely trashed - by something. Not sure whether it was pigeons, slugs or something else - but the plants were gone.
The other two went into the bed with the French Beans - as part of my "Three Sisters" growing plan (more on that in a future post). As it happened the beans failed completely but these two  grew on well. As pumpkins tend to do they spread themselves out - one rambling across the neighbouring bed but with no sign of fruiting - the flowers appeared then died back.

For various reasons I wasn't able to get out to the allotment as often as I would have liked - and the weeds started to take over. But when I got back out one day in August I noticed a glint of bright yellow in the undergrowth.

Contrary as pumpkins are - one of the plants had spread across two beds without a single fruit - then started to produce a giant. I cleared away the weeds to let in some sunlight. Then propped the pumpkin up on some slabs - to get if off the wet ground and prevent rot.

Further investigation amongst the weeds revealed that its sister plant had also thrown out a fruit - having decided to ramble in exactly the opposite direction towards the edge of the plot.

A much smaller specimen and showing early signs of rot - which I hoped to arrest - this time by propping up the fruit on a cairn of stones.

So - the plants grew on. The smaller one stayed small and the rot spread. Once it came to harvesting their was no other choice than the compost bin for that one.

The other one - a brilliant Halloween Lantern !

To misquote Meat Loaf ( or rather Jim Steinman) - one out of six ain't bad !

More pumpkins next year - hoping for the best.

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