Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Growing Pumpkins in Containers

I haven't been getting anywhere with the pumpkins. First with the sugars and now with the jarrahdale. On this last plant, I had attempted to pollinate three females and only one took and it didn't last long. Most of the female flowers didn't even open. I decided the effort to keep this thing alive with no return was not worth the effort so I pruned it down to nothing.

Although my pumpkin growing efforts didn't yield anything 'fruitful', I did learn much about growing pumpkins in containers.

  • They are thirsty beasts. With long trailing vines and massive leaves, the plants transpire like mad. In the end, the largest of my plants was sucking up gallons of water a day. By the next morning my potting soil was usually dry again. Both of my pumpkins were grown in self watering containers which helped balance the water load.

  • Nutrient deficiency was a huge problem like I've never seen before. It seemed that every other week the plants were showing signs of distress. From leaves browning and splotching to flowers dropping. When I kept up with the application of nutrients, the plant grew and looked healthy.

  • Pumpkins have massive root systems and I was constraining mine to 5 and 10 gallon containers. You need to keep up the watering and nutrient application - consistent and constant - if you're going to grow plants like these in containers.

  • Mildew was a constant problem. Powdery mildew on the surface of the leaves and downy underneath. A mild spray of diluted neem oil kept it all under control but did not eliminate it completely and a couple of weeks after an application, I had to repeat it as it quickly spread.

  • My trellis, which would have been a perfect size for a small watermelon plant, was not quite large enough for a sprawling pumpkin. This might not have been a problem if I had a pumpkin or two on it as I would have pinched off the side shoots to keep the plant at a more manageable size.

It didn't work out for me but my parents are having success with the pumpkin plants I gave them in the spring. These are plants I started in my windowsill from the same batch I planted out on my balcony. So maybe there will be a pumpkin pie in my future after all.

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