Categories: General Date: 3 Feb 2013 Title: Pumpkin secretsIf you want to grow a big pumpkin for the Bream Creek Show, here's a tip:
Pumpkin vines are funny old things. They can be fragile and finicky when very small, and don't handle rough transplanting well at all. But once they get going, they're amazing fast growers.
Most people have probably seen their pumpkin leaves wilt a bit on warm to hot days, sometimes even when the soil is moist. This is simply because the plant can't suck up enough water from the soil to supply the huge leaf area of all those lovely big leaves. And when the leaves are wilted, the plant shuts down the pores that exchange CO2 with the air, and so the plant is missing out on valuable growing time.
So, one way you can help the plant to get as much water, and food, from the soil as possible, is to help it increase its root area. If you look carefully at the stems that are lying on the ground, you'll seet root buds on the underneath side. These are usually found where a leaf comes off the stem. The little white spur in the photo below is a root bud.
When you find these, nestle the stem into the soil, and cover with a few handfuls of nice soil and mulchy stuff. The plant will put out a new root system from this point. Its quite possible for a single vigorous plant to have up to a dozen 'nodes' like this, all supplying the growing vine and pumpkins. I've even seen the original stem of the plant rot away, but the plant continue to grow, supported by all the secondary root nodes.
And, of course, mulch mulch mulch around your plant with nice feeding mulches like compost, animal manure and straw. Go pumpkins!