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Friday, July 29, 2011

Taming the mighty pumpkin vine

Shortly after accidentally KOing my last batch of seedlings I decided to sew seeds directly into the ground. One of my garden patches contains two different types of pumpkins, the Howden Pumpkin and the Big Max Pumpkin. I obtained the seed packets free, from the East Central Ministries office in Albuquerque. Both pumpkins are organic and have harvest dates in between 110 and 120 days. The Big Max is a giant pumpkin and can reach up to 100 pounds! I have also planted a few Jack Be Little Pumpkins, in a separate garden plot, which are from heirloom, organic seeds. The harvest date for these smaller pumpkins are approximately 90 days.

Growing pumpkins is a new experience for me and is very rewarding so far! Pumpkins grow very aggressively! In fact they practically sprouted overnight! I have one pumpkin plant that has vines spanning over four feet. According to literature that I've read, pumpkin vines can span over 20 feet. This can be daunting if you have limited garden space. Pumpkins can grow nicely around other crops but should never be allowed to overlap and takeover. Fortunately I've found a few ways to "tame" the mighty pumpkin vine. Master gardeners at the Bernalillo County Master Gardeners hotline have advised me to prune my vines once they reach over 10 feet in length. Vines that get too long can starve the plant. Gardening shears are recommended to prune vines with. I've also noticed that the vines are very thick and prickly so make sure that you wear gardening gloves when handling pumpkin vines. Once your vines are pruned to the desired length place the pruned end of the vine into the soil, this encourages additional root growth. I've also made some contraptions out of old wire hangers that will help train my pumpkin vines to grow around my other vegetable patch.

Pumpkins have many health benefits including potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A. Pumpkins were once used as a cure for freckles and as a remedy for snake bites. Studies have shown that the act of growing pumpkins is therapeutic. I can attest to that!

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