My 2024 Giant Pumpkin Season

Hey, it’s almost Christmas so here’s a blog post for you to catch you up to date with everything happening in the tiny patch.

Most pumpkin growing seasons I update this blog throughout the season as it happens. This season I had planned to do it once per month.

For some reason that didn’t happen.

The first part I crossed out is from my planned November post. You see I had these blog posts sort of planned through the year. With a template setup for each one to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

It just never felt like the right time to post. It felt like not much was happening. Maybe it was the ultimate form of procrastination? I’m not sure. I did however do smaller updates on Facebook.

So here we are in March 2024. This blog post is going to cover my whole season. It will be longer than normal. I’m going to cover all the things that happened and didn’t.

Start of the Season

Seed starting

This went quite smoothly for me overall. I didn’t really have too many problems. I did however not do anything with some seeds I started super early. The plan was and usually is to make content before I need it.

I sometimes fail at that when it comes to a thing you need to grow.

What I’d do Differently:

  • Start a wider range of different seeds
  • Look at how effective I was at hardening off the seedlings

Transplanting

The seedling got transplanted on the 2nd of November out into the tiny patch.

Timing wise I think it worked well as I missed out on a couple of days of cold and windy weather. But having it in the ground a little sooner would have been better timing wise.

The plant seemed to have slowed down in growth and for some reason looked a bit smaller to me than the day before. Unsure if this was some sort of optical illusion.

The transplanting went well. I added both Mykos and Azos to the roots and the planting hole.

Person, mykos

It was raining a lot while I was doing this so didn’t get any video of this process.

What I’d do Differently:

  • Grow the seedlings in bigger pots or transplant a bit later

Seedling Growth

It’s taken a while for the seedling to get settled and start growing. I think the cooler nights didn’t help.

I think having warm soil is what would have really helped. Tim had shown me his soil warming plan which involved heated water, pipes and a pump. I thought it was a great idea.

The growth finally seemed to kick into gear which was great to see. More on that later in this post.

Early Season

Early Protection

I used the pop up thing I’ve used in the past. It’s quick and easy to use but quite small.

What I’d do Differently:

  • Have a larger structure for early protection as well as warm the soil more

Helping Keep the Vine Aligned

It was easy to see the pumpkin plant getting hammered by the wind.

To help it stay put I grabbed some of the stakes I had been using with the polythene and used them to keep the pumpkin vines stable.

This worked well and was something to keep in mind for future growing. Wind can be unpredictable and you don’t want to to have it break parts of your plant.

What I’d do Differently:

  • I would have larger stakes as the ones I used were very short and easy to misplace

Dealing with Some Bugs

I quickly found that having the plant covered made an ideal environment for a bunch of small flying bugs.

I don’t think they did any harm to the plant. Well not yet. You never know. I sprayed them with some product I had on hand. That combined with taking the cover off seems to have helped.

There didn’t seem to be any more problems from them.

What I’d do Differently:

  • Maybe do some preventative spraying before seeing anything

Pollination

In the end this was not done by hand which was not my plan.

With the plants apparent stunted growth (which I talk about later) the female pumpkins were, to me at least late in arriving.

I thought I was going to be all good with this. But I had to go away for Christmas so let nature do it’s thing.

Plant Growth

This plant took ages to start growing and putting out vines. I’m putting that down to the ground being too cold. Even though the plant was hardened off more than I normally would it struggled.

It never showed signs of dying and I never thought I would need to rip it out. It just took what seemed like a while to get growing. I think I would have been worse off if I had pulled it and replaced it with a backup seedling.

Mid Season

Fertiliser and other Added Items

In the last blog post I was talking about how I still needed to get my hands on some fertilisers.

Not having soils tests done due to the size of the tiny patch means I just have to go with what I feel is best.

I did feel I prepped the tiny patch well ahead of any other time in the past. I was feeling good about that and giving it time to break down and build the soil profile.

So far this is what I have got:

Balance Product

Balance Yara Mila 12-10-10

Before I talk about that. I just want to say Balance with the Yara Mila brand have a lot of different products for all sorts of horticultural and pastural needs.

To me this seemed like the best type to get within this range. It’s got slightly higher N which is good for early season with a balanced P and K.

I could be completely wrong and be better off with a different mix of products, but this is the one I’ve gone with. Interestingly it’s only available in the North Island and hardly any stores stock the 20kg bags. I had to get mine sent up from Fielding.

I need around 40-80 grams for the whole tiny patch. This bag will last be forever.

I might get something else around mid season as well. I did not do this.

Tim swears by the YaraTera KRISTALON BROWN product. It’s a water soluble with every type of nutrient you need.

Reason I haven’t gone with that is the price.

Naturezest

I saw and ad for this product online and it looked interesting.

It’s made by NZ scientists who have written a white paper about it. They say it will help your plants with:

  • yield
  • disease resistance

It’s been trialed in kiwifruit orchards with apparent good results. They even have a money back promise for the kiwifruit growers if they do a trial with one hectare treated and one not.

Because it’s plant based, it’s safe and easy to use.

I think it’s going to be hard to know 100% how much this product will benefit the plant. There’s a couple of reasons I say that.

  1. I have a lot of new things in the patch this season. Mushroom compost, the fertiliser mentioned earlier. These could all help.
  2. I don’t have the space to have 2 plants. One that is using it and one that’s not for comparision.

But I’m helping out a kiwi company by purchasing it, and I get the feeling it will help in some way, which might be a placebo type affect or it might not. Either way I’m OK with that.

Mushroom Compost

I tracked this stuff down this year. I had heard good things about it and it seemed like a great product to add to the tiny patch.

Insect Frass Fertiliser

I used this stuff the previous season and it’s another one of those products I’m keen to try and I think it makes sense.

Mykos and Azos

These products were added to the planting hole

What I’d do Differently:

  • I’d save up and get a water soluble fertiliser
  • I need to get a simple syphon filter working. I haven’t had luck in the past due to water pressure (I think)
  • Add more compost or mulch. This was an item I didn’t add this year due to the mushroom compost

Watering

I didn’t end up sorting anything new for watering this season. This is what I was thinking of at the time of writing this section in November.

I feel I haven’t been watering enough in the past and want to step that up.

If you read any reviews on watering stuff, according to the people leaving reviews almost all of it is crap. So decisions have to be made and hopefully everything works out well.

This is what I am thinking of getting:

Gardena AquaZoom M Oscillating Sprinkler

Around $80

  • Adjustable spray both ways, width and distance.
  • Allows me to alter it to fit the plant and the patch size.
  • Less wasted water.

Rain Bird Single Outlet Digital Tap Timer

Around $125

  • Easy to use
  • Professional grade apparently
  • Up to 2 watering’s can be programmed per day
  • Has a lot of positive reviews with good build quality

No WiFi enabled stuff this time around. I think I’d rather have reliable over something that might not work.

Until I get this stuff, or something similar I’ll just be watering by hand.

Cheap Sprinkler

While I got any of the stuff above. I did get this sub $9 small sprinkler. It’s reach is 3 – 4m which makes it ideal for the start of the season.

I felt this sprinkler did pretty good for the initial growth period.

Tap Timer

I used my normal electronic tap timer I’ve had for many years. It’s really simple. You pick when and how much it waters. I used this when I went away at Christmas. It worked as it should and the plant was getting watered daily.

What I’d do Differently:

  • I’d get the sprinkler and tap timer I mentioned earlier
  • I’d work out how much water was being being applied over a set period of time

Plant Growth

The plant started growing during this time. But the growth was really crap to be honest.

Everything seemed stunted. From the vine to the leaves on the plant it was not looking good. Female flowers did appear and were pollinated so I guess that was something.

All the pumpkins ended up aborting and after a while I decided the season was over and left the plant to do it’s own thing.

Late Season

This is when things got a bit interesting.

The second half of the plant really kicked into gear. The leaves were big and green, everything was looking as it should have from the start. Female flowers were still appearing and they were getting pollinated.

It was crazy late into the season though. The pumpkin that looked the most promising ended up dying and rotting.

I pulled the plant and tidied up the patch.

Conclusion

You never know how a pumpkin growing season will go. This season just seemed a bit off from the start. Not even for me, other people had bad seasons as well.

Sure there was a lot of things I could have done better, but the poor performance early on meant I wasn’t as motivated as I should have been to do things. If that makes sense.

So why was the 2nd half so different to the first half?

There’s a couple of things I can think of.

Temperature

The very first part of the season the ground was too cold and the plant didn’t like it. This accounts for the slow start but I don’t think that accounts for the poor growth performance of the vine. I think that was something else.

The Water

During the first half of the season I was watering the plant and the patch. I think I was doing an OK job in the amount being applied. I didn’t feel it was super excessive.

But when I stopped applying water this is when the second stage growth really started to take off. This is when the plant looked like it was suppose to.

Without any testing or knowledge I think it was the water supply causing my problems.

My water comes straight out of the tap. Straight from the city supply.

My hypothesis is that there was added chlorine or something to the supply that killed some of the good microbes in my soil. I know recently they had been doing some work on some pipes in the area. Also if my memory serves me correct some people had complained of the taste or smell.

I guess it only has to be bad for one watering to cause problems. Especially early on in the season.

I’ve found a supplier of a filter which will remove things like chlorine and it can go straight onto the garden tap. That’s the plan for next season and see how it goes.

Other Photos from my Season

How Was Your Season?

Thanks for making it to the end of this long blog post.

How was your season? Did things go to plan? Or was it not as good as you hope? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Subscribe
Notify of
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lester Quillin
1 month ago

Did I see your pumpkin on the ground , in the dirt ? May be why it rotted .

2
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Scroll to Top