Even if I don't get a single pumpkin, this year's patch is a success. It is absolutely thriving, and I couldn't be happier.
Right now my pumpkin babies are flowering, and I’m crossing my fingers that the bees are visiting and pollinating my vines. I’ve read sometimes you have to help this process along if bees aren’t present, so I might be spending my weekend making that happen.
But I’m already a step further than I ever got with last year’s pumpkin patch! For reference, here’s where we ended last summer:
Tiny vines that quickly withered down to nothing in the Texas heat. It was a little pathetic…
But here’s where we are this year about a month further down the line:
I’m definitely still a novice pumpkin gardener. In fact, I tend to have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, so I’m impressed we’ve gotten this far! (Then again, maybe that’s because my dad has been kindly tending to the patch since it lives in my parents’ backyard…)
But even as a novice, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way.
Here are 5 things that improved my backyard pumpkin patch this year:
1. We moved the patch location
As any farmer will tell you, you have to rotate your crops because they deplete the soil of its nutrients. That’s especially true for pumpkins which tend to be nutrient hogs. The first step in ensuring success with this year’s pumpkin patch was moving it to a new location.
2. The new location has more direct sunlight
Pumpkins love direct sunlight. Even within my patch, you can see a difference in the plants that get the most sunlight versus the ones that are more shaded. Giving my pumpkin babies a sunnier space in the backyard has definitely helped them along.
3. Starting with nutrient-rich soil
Again, pumpkins are nutrient hogs and will suck everything they can out of the soil they’re planted in. By starting with soil my dad had added organic matter to prior to planting (read more over here), we started with a richer soil which meant my pumpkins started off much happier and well-fed from the get-go.
I’ve also read coffee grounds are great for plants. I’ve tested it with my houseplants and hope to test it with my pumpkin patch too.
4. Watering in the morning
In addition to less sunlight, I think watering at all times of the day contributed a bit to my pumpkin patch’s untimely death last year. After doing a bit of research, I learned it’s best to water first thing in the morning so the leaves have all day to dry. Taking this approach this year has contributed to the health of my patch.
5. Elevating my patch for drainage
When my dad first suggested a small raised flower bed for my pumpkin patch, I was skeptical. It seemed like overkill, esp. for a plant that’s a vine and will wander across the ground wherever it pleases. But starting my patch from mounds in an already elevated bed have helped keep them well-drained and growing like weeds.
Do you grow pumpkins?
As always, I would LOVE to hear your best tips! Share them in the comments, and be sure to check out my other pumpkin patch posts:
- Spooky Little Experiment: Backyard Pumpkin Patch (2017)
- Pumpkin Patch Update (2017)
- RIP Pumpkin Patch (2017)
- How to Grow Your Own Backyard Pumpkin Patch (2018)
- Welcome to my 2018 Backyard Pumpkin Patch (2018)
Download my free Halloween zine! 🎃
Looking for ways to make every day Halloween? Download the Spooky Little Halloween Zine. Each issue includes ideas for celebrating October 31st…all year long.
Plus when you download your free copy, you’ll automatically be added to my weekly newsletter, Treats Not Tricks, where I share even more spooky fun! Download it now.