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.