Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dear Great Pumpkin,

We harvested eight funky looking pumpkins last night. They're all medium-small in size, but good in color. Misshapen because I didn't adjust or level their positions as they grew, allowing them to roam freely across the yard.

From the family of plants called cucurbits, pumpkins are closely related to squash, gourds, melons, and cucumbers.
They can be planted from seed in the field from the last week of May to the middle of June, or like mine - earlier, in the greenhouse and brought home as small plants. :)

Germinating in 7 to 10 days, they then send up their first seed leaves; next, the true leaves will appear. As the leaves develop, and the vines spread, an extensive root network develops in the top 12 inches of soil. These shallow roots can be found as branching offshoots all along the vine. They gather most of the food, moisture, and air for the plant's growth, in addition to a strong tap root, which can grow as deep as 2 to 3 feet. Twirling tendrils develop along the vines to anchor the plant, which always entertain me.

Yellow blossoms appear after the first three weeks of growth. Male blossoms, which produce pollen, come first, followed by female blossoms about a week later. Female blossoms are easy to spot, because they have tiny pumpkin at their base. Blossoms live for only half a day, and will not open in cold, rainy weather. When both male and female blossoms appear on the vine, pollination occurs. The fruit at the base of the female blossom develops into a pumpkin. :)

Pumpkins require a lot of water to develop

(I've heard many interesting pumpkin-watering stories this summer *grin*), taking 90-120 days (depending on the variety) and are ready to harvest in October, when orange). Sure, it's September - but these pumpkins were ready to be harvested.

Next year: a few varieties (large for fun, medium likes these, and some small ornamental gourds)...and more water, lots of water..perhaps a rain-barrel-drain...hmmmmmmmmm.

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