Pumpkin Progress and Failure

pumpkins-in-a-pile

Earlier this week I posted a new video from the downhill pumpkin patch:

Though I pull in some good pumpkins, you can also see that the patch is under-performing – and I am not sure why. I should be getting a lot more. There are large areas yielding nothing.

All the hills were fertilized when the pumpkins started running. They’ve had lots of water and a good bit of sun in between, plus I kept the weeds down for the most part.

I am getting pumpkins, but many of these vines were grown from the seeds of fruit which were much larger than the ones I’m now pulling in.

Vine borers have sown up, but still – even the unaffected vines are mostly making 5-7lb fruit instead of 12-20lb.

My suspicion is that the soil here is not as good as advertised. I’ve been told again and again that the local soil is rich; however, I often had better luck with vegetables in my sandy North Florida yard.

If I owned the piece of ground I’m currently farming, I would dedicate myself to soil improvement via the planting of natural vegetative strips and chop-and-drop plants and trees, plus the addition of biochar and ashes.

I discovered with some exploratory digging that my sweet potato bed near the house is also a failure. It’s yielding a pathetic amount of small tubers, just like the previous bed I harvested earlier in the year.

I kicked tail growing sweet potatoes in North Florida but not here.

And I fed these beds with manure, compost tea, seaweed, compost and even some chemical fertilizer when everything else wasn’t helping.

I’m stumped. Something isn’t right.

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6 comments

  • Have you tryed wood chips?

  • Have you tried a pH test? I ordered a simple soil test kit for about $11 on Amazon and learned quite a bit about my gardens.

  • I live in the Caribbean and pumpkins are a staple crop here. They grow EVERYWHERE, even in extremely poor soil that you would think would grow nothing, like construction sites that are saturated with concrete runoff. The local knowledge explains that pumpkins like to hide, and be stepped on. I.e., you should not keep the weeds down around the vines, in fact the opposite; let the pumpkins hide amongst the grass. Also, stepping on the vines helps them. Since the pumpkin vines here get massive and out of control, it’s usually hard to avoid stepping on them….

    Honestly, I have actually found that both of these things help. When I keep weeds down and avoid stepping on the vines, the pumpkins rarely produce and then never very much. When I let them hide and step wherever I may, they prolifically produce massive pumpkins!

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