Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pumpkin Scraps

Pumpkin Scraps

Here is some more information on growing pumpkins that you might find useful:

Growing From Seed

Pumpkin seeds need to be warm to germinate. And warm does not exactly describe the soil in Northern CA right now. You can plant your seed in small containers and keep them in a sunny window or on a warm porch until they germinate. Or you can hill up the soil over their planting holes and wait for the sun to warm the hills before planting the seed. In any event, large pumpkins should be started very soon, medium sized pumpkins can be started between now and the middle of June, and the miniature pumpkins can be started as late as mid July and still provide decorative excitement for Halloween.


The only real problems I have encountered growing pumpkins are from the infamous and tiny white fly. These nasty little buggers reproduce way faster then rabbits, and can turn a lush pumpkin leaf crispy and gray within a matter of days. Fortunately, pumpkin vines usually grow faster than white fly reproduce. Even if you ignore the infestation, you will probably still get a nice crop from your pumpkin patch. If these tiny creatures are hounding your pumpkins, it is important to keep the irrigation up. Don’t drown the poor vines, but don’t let them suffer drought stress either.

White fly can be controlled with simple organic sprays. Neem, tobacco tea, and insecticidal soap are all effective. Tobacco tea should not be used within two weeks of harvest; neem and insecticidal soap will have directions on their labels. It is best to spray after dark, so you don’t poison beneficial creatures. Avoid soaking the leaves so much that they excessively drip on the soil. Except for the neem, these controls are not healthy for worms and soil microorganisms. Be sure you treat the under side of the leaves, because that’s where white flies live. Last but not least, if you notice lacewings, solider beetles, ladybugs or ladybug larva under the leaves, don’t spay at all. These voracious creatures are your friends. They will seek out and destroy white fly with little or no effort needed on your part.


If you would like to explore more unusual pumpkins than those available from your local nursery check out Johnny’s Select Seeds. They have over 2 dozen different types of pumpkins to choose from. (They also carry Safer Insect Soap.) You can find them on the Internet at: or you can call to request a catalog by phone: 877-564-6697. On the other hand, if a simple medium sized pumpkin that works well for both cooking and carving suits your purpose and free suits your budget here is the perfect offer for you:


Contact me this fall if you would like to see or share some pumpkin recipes. I have some on file and I am thinking of collecting some more. Perhaps the collection could grow up and become a book some day . . .

Mean while, enjoy your garden, but don’t get too sunburned out there!


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