Pumpkin blossoms falling off

Baby pumpkins turn yellow and fall off

Autumn Home Staging: How to Set Your Home Up to Match the Warm, Rich Colors of Autumn Autumn is not only a great time to enjoy changing colors and cooler weather, but it is also a perfect time to sell a home. If you want to sell your house this autumn, these home staging tips will have buyers pounding down your door. Improve Your Curb Appeal Curb appeal is easily the most important factor when it comes to selling a home, and it is even more important in the autumn. Maintaining great curb appeal can be difficult in autumn because of all the falling leaves. Raking the leaves and planting some autumn flowers will make your home inviting to buyers. You can even add some pumpkins around the porch. Brighten Up The House The shorter days of autumn make lighting more important when staging a home, because nobody wants to walk into a dark and depressing house. The best way to brighten up any house is by opening the blinds and turning on every light. Extra lighting will make the home more inviting and help the home sell quicker. You can even place some spotlights on the floor behind furniture to brighten up the darker rooms. Make It Feel Comfortable There is something about the cooling weather of autumn that makes people want to stay inside and be cozy. Showing off how comfortable your home is will definitely pique buyers’ interest. A great way to make your home cozier during a showing is by playing music and baking some fresh baked cookies –adds a personal touch and a subtle sense of coziness. Accent The Home With Autumn Colors While it is impossible to change the color scheme of your home to fit the season, you can add some accent colors throughout the house. If you have a neutral colored couch, then you can easily throw some red or orange pillows on it to make it really stand out. Adding some autumn decorations to each room is also a great way to accent your home with autumn colors. Autumn is an extremely popular time to buy or sell a house, and for good reason. Taking advantage of autumn’s vibrant colors when you stage your home will give your house an irresistible appeal. For more information about how to sell your home in the autumn, or if you’d like to list your home please contact me. Rain Silverhawk Keller Williams Realty Sandpoint http://www.northidahosandpoint.com [email protected]

Quick Guide to Growing Pumpkins

  • Plant pumpkins in early summer near the edge of your garden.
  • Space pumpkin plants 2 to 5 feet apart (depending on the variety). Grow each pumpkin on a 3-foot wide mound of warm, fertile soil that has a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Pumpkins require a lot of water, so it’s best to use a soaker hose or drip irrigation. Avoid wetting the leaves.
  • Give your pumpkins plenty of nourishment with a continuous-release plant food.
  • As pumpkins start to form, elevate them off the soil to prevent rotting.
  • Harvest pumpkins once they reach their ideal color. The skin should be firm and stems will have started to wither.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Like its cousin the cucumber, pumpkin demands warm, fertile soil for growth. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.8. Plan to give each vine at least a 3-foot diameter mound, or hill, of warm, enriched soil. Test your soil every year or two to determine how to amend it for ideal pumpkin growth. If you don’t do a soil test, you can improve your existing soil by mixing in compost or aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil with the top few inches of native soil, to provide more nutrition and improve the soil texture. In cool climates, warm the soil a week before planting by covering it with a piece of black plastic. To plant your pumpkin seedlings, cut a hole in the plastic and plant through the hole.

Pumpkin vines grow aggressively, covering lots of ground. To keep your garden from being engulfed by vines, site plants near the edge of the garden. As vines grow, direct them toward the outside of the garden. Space full-size plants 5 feet apart, and mini pumpkins 2 to 3 feet apart.

Plants need ample water when flowers and fruits are forming. It is best to use a drip system or soaker hose to directly water soil at the base of vines so as to avoid wetting foliage. Try to water in the early morning, so that any water that splashes onto leaves can soon dry. Wet foliage is more susceptible to fungus, such as powdery mildew, which can slowly kill all the leaves on a vine. Most vines wilt under the bright, hot afternoon sun, but if you see foliage wilting before 11:00 a.m., that’s a sign that they need water. It’s also a good idea to feed pumpkin plants throughout the season with a continuous-release fertilizer like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, which provides a source of steady nutrition for strong growth.

Some gardeners promote branching to get more pumpkins by pinching the tips out of main vines when they reach about 2 feet long. You can also increase the yield on a vine by removing all female flowers (these have a small swelling at the base of the bloom) for the first 3 weeks. These practices may produce a sturdier vine that can set more, albeit smaller, pumpkins during the growing season if you have good soil, sun, and moisture. If your goal is fewer, larger pumpkins per vine, once you have 3 to 4 fruits on a vine, pinch off all remaining flowers as they form.

For a little fun, you can personalize pumpkins for children. While pumpkins are small and skins are soft, scratch a child’s name into the skin. The name will increase in size as the pumpkin grows.

Pumpkin Fruit Drop: Why Do My Pumpkins Keep Falling Off

Why do my pumpkins keep falling off the vine? Pumpkin fruit drop is a frustrating state of affairs for sure, and determining the cause of the problem isn’t always an easy task because there may be a number of things to blame. Read on to learn about troubleshooting causes of dropping pumpkin fruit.

Reasons for Pumpkin Fruit Drop

Pollination problems

Poor pollination is probably the most common reason for pumpkins falling off the vine, as the window of time for pollination is very narrow – about four to six hours. If pollination doesn’t occur during that time, the blooms will close for good, never to be pollinated. To get around this problem, remove a male blossom and rub the stamen directly on the female bloom. This should be done during the early morning.

How to tell the difference? Male blooms generally appear a week or two before female blooms – generally at a rate of two or three male blooms for each female bloom. The pollen, which is in the center stamen, will come off on your fingers if the male flower is mature enough to pollinate the female. The female bloom is easy to spot by the tiny round fruit that appears at the base of the bloom.

If the tiny fruit begins to grow, you know pollination has successfully taken place. On the other hand, without pollination, the little fruit will soon wither and drop off the vine.

Fertilizer issues

Although nitrogen is helpful in the early stages of plant growth, too much nitrogen later on can put baby pumpkins at risk. Cutting back on nitrogen will prompt the plant to direct its energy into producing fruit instead of foliage.

A balanced fertilizer is fine at planting time, but after the plant is established and blooms appear, apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer with an NPK ratio such as 0-20-20, 8-24-24 or 5-15-15. (The first number, N, stands for nitrogen.)

Stress

Excess humidity or high temperatures can create stress that may cause dropping pumpkin fruits. There isn’t much you can do about the weather, but proper fertilization and regular irrigation can make the plants more stress resistant. A layer mulch will help keep the roots moist and cool.

Blossom end rot

This problem, which begins as a watery spot on the blossom end of the small pumpkin, is due to a lack of calcium. Eventually, the pumpkin may drop from the plant. There are several ways to get around this problem.

Once again, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers that can tie up calcium in the soil. Keep the soil evenly moist, watering at the base of the soil, if possible, to keep the foliage dry. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system simplifies the task. You may need to treat the plants with a commercial calcium solution formulated for blossom end rot. However, this is usually only a temporary fix.

There has been some concern about poor fruit set in pumpkin fields that otherwise have healthy vigorous vines. This summer we have experienced above normal temperatures for much of the pumpkin fruit set season and I suspect that has played a role. This article will consider temperature as well as other factors that influence pumpkin fruit set.

In order for fruit set to take place, male and female flowers must be open on the same day, pollinating insects must be active, the plant must not be too stressed and it must have an adequate level of carbohydrates. Growers can influence some of these conditions.

High temperatures promote death of female pumpkin flowers while still in the bud stage. Varieties differ in the their sensitivity to high temperatures. To determine whether flowers have died early in development requires close inspection of the pumpkin vine. An aborted bud often dries up and remains on the vine, but is only a few centimeters long and not easy to see under heavy vine growth (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Pumpkin female flower bud that aborted before opening

Figure 2. Pumpkin female flower bud that aborted before opening

Nitrogen levels in the soil can influence pumpkin fruit set through effects on flower development. Excess nitrogen promotes vigorous vine growth but delays flowering. If the delay coincides with high temperatures, fruit-producing flowers may not develop at all until too late to produce much yield.

Pumpkin flowers are usually pollinated by honey bees, squash bees, and bumble bees. Pollination occurs in the morning when flowers are open and bees are active. Multiple bee visits to a flower are needed in order to transfer enough pollen for fruit set. Each flower is open for just one day, and if a female flower doesn’t get pollinated on that day it will gradually yellow and fall off. To know whether bees are active in a field, take a look in the morning before it gets hot and flowers close. If bee activity is spotty and there aren’t any honey bee or bumble bee hives present, it may be worthwhile to bring hives in. Research in Illinois showed an advantage to having honey bee hives present for pumpkins. Work in New York indicated that the benefit of bringing honey bee or bumble bee hives in depends on the landscape within about 1.25 miles of the pumpkin field. Landscapes with more diverse plants and those with a higher percentage of “grassland” (fallow, weedy ditches, and semi-natural areas) did not benefit as much from supplemental bees. For a summary of the New York work, see The Decision-Making Guide for Bee Supplementation of Pumpkin Fields at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/43268. Whether relying on natural bee populations or hives brought in for pollination, careful use of insecticides is important to avoid harming the pollinators. Purdue publications about bees are available at https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/pubs/bee.html. Table 10 in the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers has information about pesticides and bee safety.

After pollination (when pollen is transferred to the female flower) pollen grains must germinate and grow to fertilize each ovule that will develop into a seed. Without this step, the seeds won’t start to grow and if seeds don’t grow the pumpkin fruit will die and fall off. If only seeds at one end or on one side of the fruit start to grow, the pumpkin will be lopsided. High temperatures can prevent proper pollen tube growth, and so even if flowers open and get pollinated, fruit may not set. Sometimes inspection will reveal flowers that have bloomed but not set fruit, and the aborted fruit is covered with a fuzzy mold (Figures 3 and 4). This is Choanephora fruit rot which can often be opportunistic; attacking fruit that was dying anyway. This is unlikely to be the primary cause of poor fruit set, and fungicides are not effective against this type of fruit abortion.

Growing a pumpkin fruit and the seeds inside requires a lot of energy from the plant, along with water and mineral nutrients. Energy comes from carbohydrates produced by the plant through photosynthesis. If the plant doesn’t have enough energy, female flower buds and fruit may stop developing, yellow, and die. High temperatures, particularly at night, make the plant burn energy more quickly. Cloudy days mean less sunshine to supply energy for photosynthesis. This year, high temperatures in July coincided with rainy weather in portions of the state, so light was low when energy demand was high. Foliar diseases and too much shade from weeds also reduce photosynthesis and fewer carbohydrates are produced. There is evidence that shading the one leaf near a female pumpkin flower can reduce fruit set for that flower. Injury from herbicides can also stress plants and lead to death of flower buds. Generally, stressed plants, no matter what the cause, have low energy reserves.

Figure 3. The fungus on this senescent female pumpkin flower (Choanephora sp.) is growing on a flower which did not develop properly.

Figure 4. The fungus Choanephora sp. is growing on an female pumpkin flower that failed to develop.

Basic good management practices will help the pumpkin plant meet the energy demand of growing fruit. In dry conditions irrigation is likely to be important. Weed control is important, not only to avoid shading, but also to reduce competition for water. If uneven emergence and plant size make normal cultivation difficult or less effective at eliminating weeds, hoeing or hand-weeding, or spot treatments with herbicides may be warranted.

We have observed no diseases that cause the symptoms of poor fruit set described in this article. If you think you may have a disease, contact the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory or the authors of this article.

These are the basics of what we know about pumpkin fruit set. For cases where fruit set was an issue this year, hopefully one or more of these factors will be a reasonable explanation, and one can begin to consider what might be done differently next year, if anything.

There was frost on the pumpkins yesterday morning, as the old expression goes. So I thought I’d share some reflections on our first year of growing white pumpkins. From the time that the seeds that we planted in July germinated and started coming up, I have been fascinated with the pumpkins. I guess that’s because the white variety is still somewhat of a novelty. Or maybe it’s because the vines grow so rapidly that you can see changes from day to day.

Leo and I learned a lot about growing pumpkins this year. We did some things right such as preparing the soil before planting. You can read about that in Leo’s post: White Pumpkins for Fall, Anyone? We planted our seeds in mid-July, but next year we will move that date back closer to the first of July because pumpkins need 90 days to mature.

We planted 3 different varieties this year: Valenciano (Cinderella shaped) Polar Bear (really large) and Moonshine (long-stemmed). Although I like large pumpkins, I would not plant the Polar Bears again because their skin is smooth with no ridges.

Here’s one of the Polar Bears which grew up on our fence, and Leo is cutting it for our granddaughter. We did find out that this type of wire will definitely support the weight of the pumpkins as they are growing.

Of the three varieties that we grew, my favorite was the Moonshine because they have really long stems. See the one in this photo?

But I also like this Cinderella shaped Valenciano pumpkin that you see in this centerpiece, too! We will definitely grow both of these varieties again.

We had a great harvest for our first experience growing white pumpkins. This cart had our first haul out of the garden.

One of the things that we discovered was how much water pumpkins need. Wouldn’t you know that as we were growing our pumpkins, we had the driest August and September that we’ve had in a long time! Since we didn’t put a watering system to our pumpkins, I had to hand water those babies just about every day. So next year, we will put a drip irrigation system in when we plant our seeds because it’s so hard to find the root of each vine when the leaves are large. You really don’t want to water anything other than the main stem because too much dampness may lead to powdery mildew. And we will add mulch to the pumpkin patch when the plants are tiny because before you know it, they become so large that you can’t add mulch without stepping on the vines!

How do you know when to harvest your pumpkins? Well, see how the vines are shriveling up in the photo above? When that starts happening and the stem starts changing color, that’s when you can cut the pumpkins from the vine. But flowers kept forming and baby pumpkins were growing even into October.

We had a lot of fun decorating with the first pumpkins that we cut. Here is one of the Polar Bears in a black urn.

Here I’ve used one of the pumpkins as a centerpiece in our fall tablescape.

This one I used to add a little autumnal flavor to our deck.

And a few days later, I turned it into a succulent centerpiece. Shortly after, we sent almost all the white pumpkins that we had to be used as decorations for a fall wedding. And then they went to a school where they were going to be painted. It warms my heart to know that so many other people enjoyed them as much as we did.

Well, all the vines have been pulled up and this little guy was the last pumpkin to come out of the patch. It was one of the later ones to grow, and you can see that it is still green.

I saved the seeds from the pumpkin that I cut to use as a succulent centerpiece. It’s the one with the really long stem, and I happen to have one of the Valencianos on the front porch. I’ll save its seeds, too. Since the Valenciano is an heirloom, its seeds will produce white ones again next year. And because the Moonshine pumpkin is a hybrid, I may get some orange ones from its seeds. That’s ok with me because I love orange ones, too. And I’ve already decided that I’m ordering some seeds to grow some Jarrahdale and Chioggia pumpkins next year along with the peach colored ones (Galeux D’Eysines) with the warty skin!

All in all, I would consider our first attempt at growing pumpkins a success. We made a few mistakes, but we’ll try it again while making some adjustments.

The season to season challenge of growing a garden is what’s exciting to us.

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Metamorphosis [email protected] Naps on the Porch

Inspire Me [email protected] Stroll Thru Life

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