In 2021, we had great success with our pumpkin patch.
I planted multiple hills in the terrible soil at The Sand Pit of Death where we used to rent, fortifying each hill with ashes and kitchen scraps – particularly meat and bones.
We had a good year!
In 2022, I saved chicken guts and buried them in the pumpkin holes, and we planted about four times as much area with a mix of C. moschata and C. maxima pumpkin varieties. This is me in the pumpkin patch.
Yet we got nothing.
First it was too cold, then too wet, then too dry, then too wet. Animals dug into the hills, vine borers tore up the vines, plants turned yellow and failed to thrive…
It was the worst year we’ve ever had for gardening. Our grain corn failed as well.
The only thing that really did well was the yams and the cassava.
This meant, unfortunately, that I lost a year in my pumpkin landrace breeding project.
Now we are trying again.
This year, instead of using chicken guts in the hills, we are using compost.
We knocked over the pallet compost pile yesterday and dug down into it for some good stuff.
You can see all the paper plates and paper towels and other rough stuff that was at the top. This pile has been continuously fed with various scraps and paper and mulch and peanut hay since August of last year. There’s at least a few five gallon buckets of good material we uncovered at the bottom. In the photo, I’ve already harvested two buckets of compost.
Which I then took to the area the pigs have cleared for us, and mixed with the native soil to make pumpkin hills.
There are about ten finished and planted hills now. In between the hills we planted cassava, which should grow above the pumpkins quite happily.
The soil here is much better than at our previous location, so we’ll hope for the best for both crops.
Making Pumpkin Hills
To make these pumpkin hills, we use a grub hoe to chop a little hole in the ground. We then put a few cups of compost in the hole, then mound up some earth on it, then add some more compost to that mound. When that’s done, we smooth the top over a little bit by hand, then put three seeds in each hill.
I truly hope this year’s pumpkins grow. It was weird to go from a good pumpkin year to an absolute zero-yield year. We usually have great luck with amended piles.
In other news, two big spools of half-rotten, unsprayed hay were delivered to the garden last night. It’s mulching time.
And maybe time to make a serious hot compost pile via alternating manure and hay layers!
But that’s a tale for another day.
Thank you for this story! I appreciate y’all sharing your bad moments as well – keeps me from feeling like the world’s worst gardener every time something goes wrong.
Thanks for the reading list, how cool! – – Hey, the young people at our church are doing a book club for Chesterton’s Orthodoxy right now!
A lot of my seeds this year were old ones I just wanted to stick in the ground and get rid of. . . . According to the packets they are due by now, but nothing’s coming up. How many days should I sit and stare at my bare patch of earth before I realize the seeds failed?
I hope things go better with pumpkins this year!! Barring a starvation scenario I’m sure you’re set on having some more of that C. S. Pumpkin Bread!
Well, if the weather is cold, it can take an extra week or more. If no luck, just go get some new seeds. They aren’t too expensive.
I had to change from using chicken guts in my squash mounds to compost, because we got a new dog to guard the livestock. She likes to dig up the guts and bones in those places. Everything I planted looks wonderful right now, hopefully we can finish and have a good harvest. Thanks for sharing this information!
Rock on, Brian.