Beyond "Knee High by the 4th of July"

An experiment in vegetable gardening

The Pumpkin Chronicles

August 5th, 2012

So…my determination to use the experiential approach to learning in order to figure out why my baby pumpkins were shriveling up lasted just short of 24 hours.

“To the Internet!” I cried as my determination now turned to learning from other people’s experiences!

After wading through several cooperative extension service websites, GardenWeb forums, and vegetable gardening blogs, it became clear that my problem was that the female flowers on my pumpkin vine were not opening.  That meant that the baby pumpkins formed at the base of the female flowers like normal but when the flower failed to open and be pollinated, the baby pumpkin shriveled up and never developed.

As to why this was happening was far less clear.  The only reason that I could find that seemed plausible is that female flowers require cool nights to open.  We hadn’t seen a night below the mid 70s in weeks and since I had planted my pumpkin patch rather late in the season, it would stand to reason that I had missed the cool nights of spring that are optimal for pollination.

So, I started watching the weather forecast and inspecting the female flowers for any sign of a petal beginning to unfurl.

And at 8:17 am on the not so cool morning of July 19th, I was ecstatic to find this:

Now it was up to the bees!  Surely the term “busy bee” has some basis in fact!

Sure enough, the bees did their job and my baby pumpkin was soon off and growing like a weed!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Unfortunately, my baby pumpkin wasn’t the only thing growing like a weed!  The pumpkin vine was taking over — growing up and over the trellis, trailing down the sides of the raised bed, and spreading out along the ground!

Something had to be done.  So, after consulting the same cooperative extension service websites, GardenWeb forums and gardening blogs, I came to the conclusion, albeit reluctantly, that some pruning was in order.

That would turn out to be a tall order indeed.  The vines I had so lovingly weaved in and out of the trellis now appeared a tangled mess!  I did my best to trace each vine so as not to prune too severely.  Things were going well and I felt like I was beginning to bring the vine back in line.

And then the unthinkable happened.  I inadvertently cut the vine that fed my beautiful pumpkin.  I couldn’t believe it.

I was crestfallen.  My one and only perfect pumpkin cut down before it had a chance to grow up to be a Jack O’Lantern.  And I was responsible.

In an effort to console me, Laura and William set out to make the best of the unfortunate situation.

How couldn’t I feel at least a little better?  Such a happy little guy!

And I felt even better the next morning when I woke up to to find William had left me this:

Isn’t it beautiful?

Beyond "Knee High by the 4th of July"

An experiment in vegetable gardening