Things have slowed down and now it is the end of the giant pumpkin growing season in New Zealand, I’m able to reflect on how my season went, what worked and what didn’t.
Jerry made it to the Scales
Jerry came in at 92kg when it hit the scales at The Great Pumpkin Carnival on the 31st of March. It turned out there were 3 pumpkins weighing that on the day. Something I haven’t come across before at our event.
I’m sure he would have weighed a little bit more if I hadn’t of freaked out and cut it from the vine if the vine hadn’t gone all soft and gross.
After hearing of Tim’s second pumpkin going down (which was on track to be a new NZ record) the small soft spot on the stem of my pumpkin freaked me out and I managed to chop way too much of that off. Just to find it was hollow and had what I like to call an umbilical cord attached.
Peroxide, sulphur and the fan helped with that. Then it was time to get it into the car (as well as everything else) and get it to the weigh off.
End of Season – What Went Well:
LED Grow Light
This light was great, the plants seemed to like it and the plants were kept nice and stocky, ideal for transplanting outside.
Even though I only have around 2 square meters of dirt to grow in the Tiny Patch, prepping the soil early on seemed to have helped.
The addition of MyNoke worm castings and Kōlush Manuka + Seaweed Garden Mulch seemed to help. I’d be keen to use those products again.
I was happy with the seed I had, and I think if grown in a bigger patch would have produced a good sized pumpkin.
It had super thick walls and the cavity in the pumpkin was really small.
Covering the pumpkin with a sheet and a tarp over the top of that worked well, and is the go to method I use to help protect it from the sun, simple and easy.
I was worried about the pumpkin pushing against the vine connected to the stem too much, potentially causing a split or break. Cutting up a pool noodle helped keep distance between the two, and stopped the vine from marking up the pumpkin.
Brass Hose Fittings
I’m not buying plastic hose fittings again, they eventually stuff out. The brass ones are great.
Wifi Watering System
This worked great, never failed and worked when I wanted it to. Midway through the season I switched from using the sprinklers I had set up to hand watering, and the system was still great as I could set the time and make sure I watered the same each time.
Combined with sand, the pumpkin has a nice flat bottom, and seemed to grow nicely on the mill fabric. It can be reused each season and I’ll have it up on the shop very soon.
Having the bags of compost to bury some parts of the vine in worked well, especially as the whole area the vine is in is concrete.
Lots of good things and good to reflect on these at the end of the season. Keeping a list of things like this during the season is of great benefit.
End of Season – What didn’t go well:
I thought I could use the trampoline legs as part of a early season structure, but they didn’t really work as I wanted. So I ended up transplanting latter than ideal, when there was no risk of frost or cold.
I need a better setup for the tiny patch to allow me to get the seedling out into the patch earlier.
With such a small area and how is laid out, I feel I had a big problem with air flow. This compounded any powdery mildew problem and didn’t help with some of the watering setup.
While being able to water while away from the patch using the WiFi timer is a huge plus, I need to change or modify the type of sprinkler head I use. Last year I used a lot of drippers to get water below the leaves, this year I didn’t. The use of misters and the lack of airflow led to a bigger powdery mildew problem than I’ve faced in the past.
Powdery Mildew Prevention
Talking of powdery mildew, I really needed to jump on the preventative spray a lot sooner than I did.
While these worked really well, I need to make sure there is very good drainage at the bottom of these bags. They can easily look dry on top, but still be holding a lot of water in the bottom of the bag.
Being Consistent at the End
When things get busy I find it can sometime be hard to keep on track with certain things. One of those is keeping on top of updates, weather it be on social media or on the website via blog posts.
On the whole I think I did much better with this. But near the end with the craziness of being busy with the Carnival prep, there were moments where I needed to stop for a few seconds, pull out my phone and take some more photos.
Planning for the upcoming season is well underway, and I’m using different tools and strategies to help keep me on track, no matter what I am getting up to
While I did get 4 miniature pumpkins from the ones I was growing in pots, I think they suffered from a lack of ventilation where they grew, and I started them too early in the season.
I was terrible at reading any of this the last season, I do get a notification when new topics are posted on the message boards. But to keep on top of what’s happening, what people are trying and having problems with I really need to read this more. I do have a plan for this as well, so we will see how it goes.
How Was your Season?
So there we go, my end of season wrap up for the Tiny Patch.
How did your season go? Were you happy with it? Could there be improvements, or is there something new you’d like to try. Let me know in the comments section below.