Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Fail 2011

This spring, I had 30 gorgeous Rouge Vif d'Etamps pumpkin plants that I grew from seed last February. I grew them under our new grow light operation, made sure they got watered and didn't get leggy or funky. They grew into beautiful pumpkin starts. And then I proceeded to screw things up from there.

I was hoping to create a new pumpkin patch in one of our beds in the backyard. I dutifully moved the starts outside to harden them off and then my back went out on me while I was digging up and preparing other parts of the backyard for planting.

Since I was incapacitated, I couldn't prepare the future pumpkin patch area. So, I waited. In the meantime, the pumpkin plants got slightly ignored and maybe not watered as often. May turned into June turned into July and, just as I almost gave up on them, I decided to plant them in some newly made space in our regular vegetable beds.

It took a while for them to recover. But, they did and eventually they started blooming and we got a lot of flowers and a lot of little pumpkins growing. Unfortunately, it was too late in the season for them. So, instead of getting this:

We got this:

They are like large grapefruit. Sigh. At least I can buy some "real" ones at our local nursery for processing. They make fantastic pumpkin puree for all sorts of cooking and baking.

Short of hiring someone to help me out, I don't think I could have done anything differently. But, to be sure, I won't be making that mistake again if I can help it.

Did you grow pumpkins this year? What kind and how did they fare?

This post is part of this week's Homestead Barn Hop and An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party!


Kathy said...

Oh my goodness. I feel your pain. It's my favorite type of pumpkin and this year I failed too. I'm outside of Portland and we had too much cold and rain for far too long this spring. I had beautiful starts from my new grow lights but after I set them out, the weather turned even colder. I 1 decent size pumpkin and 2 babies that never turned from yellow. Thank goodness for our local farmers....I've said that a lot this summer, after crop failure hits me and I find my way to their greenhouse grown treasures. My mantra...."I need a greenhouse."

Ellen said...

I haven't grown pumpkins for many years, but did decide to grow some this year. I started them from seed in some places and planted seeds in others. The ones I planted from seed did nothing. The ones I started in pots and transplanted (into the chicken yard!) did good. I had to cover the transplants with some wire mesh to keep the chickens from eating them but then they did good. Ended up with 5 or 6 decent sized (for cooking, not carving) pumpkins. I know the chickens pecked at a few smaller ones that maybe would have survived otherwise but I was thrilled as it was otherwise unused space. The zucchini did well there too, totally ignored by the chickens, btw.

Green Bean said...

Mine was abysmal this year too. I think it was the late rains, cold spring and, oh, perhaps I should have planted the sunflowers BEHIND the pumpkins instead of in front. Next year!

Unknown said...

LOL'd @ "And then I proceeded to screw things up from there."

I never purposely tried to grow pumpkin or any other veggies needing a long growing time, since every year is a lottery between heatwaves, flooding, or sometimes a bit of both. This year was the record-breaking drought, sigh!

But if something volunteers from the occasional flood, it always gets the best of my curiosity. So that was my one and only pumpkin vine. It never made baby pumpkins, maybe because it was the only vine? I think it was a heatwave that killed it off early.

I'll stick with summer squash and sweet potatoes, since I can get those to grow, although any root crops are always tiny thanks to gumbo soil. I'm thinking a partially sunk wicking bed/huglekulture(sp?) that's about 2 feet above ground, heavily mulched with hay might survive floods, droughts, and with shade cloth, maybe 100+ heatwaves, plus might produce bigger root crops ^_^

Aimee said...

Total pumpkin fail up in Bellingham this year. My vines grew like crazy, sprawled over an area the size if Delaware, flowered abundantly, and then utterly failed to set any fruit. I have ONE pumpkin for all my effort.

Heather said...

I planted pumpkins, and those did not grow at all...however...I randomly had a pumpkin plant growing in the back of my garden that I think my 3 year old may have planted. We got 2 pie pumpkins out of that plant :-)

Carol Miller said...

Pumpkins have always been a challenge for me too.
I have planted them every summer for the last 18b years, only one of those years produced pumpkins.
I was so excited to pick my green pumpkins and let me kids carve them.
The saddest part it was a severely dry year and dad fire season and so darn hot for our norm. Never been successful since. I would be so happy to see your grapefruit sized pumpkins in my garden! Don't give up, I still haven't.

Rainy Day Gardener said...

I feel your pain. I dutifully babied my starts and even planted outside on time, but for one reason or another, my Howden pumpkins produced many flowers..male flowers, but hardly any females and those never even bloomed. Bugger. Fortunately, I also planted a cute little baby bear pumpkin which did produce 10 small little pumpkins. I think I need a greenhouse or a hoop house for Northwest Pumpkin gardening.

Len said...

We didn't grow pumpkins this year but they always turn out well for us. No offense, but I think the secret starts with selecting a variety that is not named in such a way as to suggest that you should have it groomed and take it on a plane in a trendy, ventilated carrier.

Even in desert conditions, our squashes and pumpkins do very well. Get them in a hill, keep the water on them, not much to it.

Interestingly, I spent the weekend volunteering at a pumpkin festival giving hay rides and farm tours. I made sure to tell the parents that they could let their kids spend extra time in the pumpkin patch playing with the dirt and bugs and learning about where food comes from. I told them about my cousins who grew up in Washington, DC who, as teenagers, did not know that carrots come from the ground! Do not let this happen to your kids!

Jen the Ecoventurer said...

I live in the very hot and humid climate of USDA Zone 10 which is not generally good for pumpkins. But I got lucky and found an heirloom variety called Seminole Pumpkin (Seminoles are one of the Native American tribes from this area). I tried it out and it grew like a champ! I put in three plants as a test and was rewarded with 3 cantaloupe sized tan colored pumpkins. They tasted great! Gonna plant more this year!

April's Homemaking said...

I grew pumpkins this year in our small raised bed gardens, our weather in the Oregon Valley this year was too cold for great pumpkin growing, but I did get some nice sugar pumpkins to grow. Next year I am going to start my seeds indoors to lengthen the growing season. I would love to grow some beautiful heirloom pumpkins and squash. Good luck on next years pumpkins :) April

Frogdancer said...

Last year I tried to grow pumpkins in my sunny front garden, but the soil was obviously too impoverished. I harvested one pumpkin that fit into the palm of my hand.
Yesterday I planted out the Great Pumpkin Experiment of 2011. I've put 3 plants each into 2 large pots and put the pots out in the front yard near the lavender bushes (as pollinators). I'm hoping they'll have the nutrients from the compost in the pots to grow, the sun to soak up and the space to ramble. I REALLY love pumpkin and I want to grow them!! (For reference, I'm in Australia so we're in our main planting season now.)

Robj98168 said...

No I didn't actively grow any pumpkins this year (room issues) I did have one plant, but no pumpkins. You can't use those pumpkins for pie/puree? How about chicken feed... I am told chickens love fresh squashes, I would imagine pumpkins would be no different!

Kateri said...

Oh my gosh. I feel your pain as well. That is what my pumpkin crop normally looks like (due to squash vine borers though, not to neglect). This year though I took measures that actually worked and got a lovely crop. Which is kind of amazing because I understand there was something of a crop failure in this part of the state. I grew pumpkins specifically for seeds--speckled hound, baby bear, and kakai.

I hope you have better luck next year!

Jennifer @ Fast, Cheap, and Good said...

I only got one pumpkin this year! But I got a great meal out of it: Pumpkin "Gnocchi" with Rosemary and Leek Butter Sauce.

I also saved the seeds to try again next year!

Greenpa said...

lol! Ah, me. "Education is never free." One of my rules.

Gardens, in fact, are very unforgiving. If you get things planted "just a little late" - hoping things will work out anyway- you will almost always be disappointed and get nothing whatsoever for your work.

I got myself into a similar fix this year, with potatoes. I totally love new potatoes; and you can't really buy them around here. I bought seed potatoes. Got the garden worked up. And- got sidetracked, by somethingorother, can't even remember what at this point.

But- I had learned, over the years. When I came out of whatever tunnel I was in, I knew it was too late- so; I did NOT plant my potatoes. It would have just been a further waste.

Next year!

Beth said...

Every year is a unique Gardening Adventure!

SL Westermann said...

The chickens got in my pumpkin patch. 'Nuff said.

Grace said...

I've tried three times to grow pumpkins. The first time my (now long-ago ex) boyfriend surprised me by mowing my lawn. He was particularly proud that he had managed to get rid of those hairy vines in the yard...My neighbors weed-whacked attempt #2. "We thought we would just get rid of those things for you, Grace." Yeah? Thanks, Guys. No, really. At my present house, in the protection of my backyard (I have three pit bulls and a 90 lb Newfoundland/Lab mix patrolling there. No helpful but clueless persons care to brave that gauntlet to murder my defenseless squash!) I actually got one pumpkin plant to grow. It set one fruit, which grew, and didn't die, and finally matured - into a delicious watermelon. Sigh. Someday...

Bethany said...

Yeah I did that one year with melons and pumpkins. I got one teeny underripe melon and one teeny underripe pumpkin. That was when I lived in Spokane and could actually grow them - now I live in the middle of the forest and no sunshine = no growing :(