Clearwater Plumbers September/October 2018

Straight from the

September/October 2018


The Great Pumpkin Experiment — No. 001 Growing a Pumpkin Patch

adolescent pumpkin stems. They eat the inside of the stem, leaving behind an empty drinking straw, so the highway of nourishment to the vine is cut off. Terrible creatures. One-third of my plants were too far gone, and it really isn’t worth the surgery to save the plant at that point. I am now on vacation for a week in New Mexico. I may get home only to find a total failure. We have a family friend feeding the dogs and watering the crop, but I won’t know until I see it for myself. I’ll keep you posted if I get a pumpkin, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be the bumper crop that I had hoped for. Do you know why the penetrating oil is named WD-40? Well, WD is water displacement, and 40 is the 40th attempt on the formula. Hopefully it doesn’t take me 40 times to get it right, because I’ll be 83 years old, and those giant pumpkins are going to be a challenge to carry around.

that these guys were thirsty, so I ran drip irrigation to my 20 plants to keep them well-watered. They were growing like champs! For a week. Then, guess what? The stems started getting pale and weak, and some of the leaves started to turn yellow. They wilted away, and when it hit 100 degrees, they almost disappeared in one day. I got to researching — I wanted to know what happened.

My family knows I’m crazy. One of my dreams is to have a pumpkin farm in a river valley. I’d haul the big round pumpkins to town and sell the best pumpkins for display on porches of happy homes. Well, I figured if I’m going to have a pumpkin farm, I should probably start out small. I’m a gardener and have more than 20 years of experience growing backyard crops of my own on some scale. My mom is a master gardener, and my grandfather is from a lineage of Polish farming blood. My grandfather fought the Texas heat and clay soil every year, planting his tomatoes, beets, onions, and peas, all the while cursing the mockingbirds and bugs. He would say, “Ohhh buggars,” which was the equivalent of a well-placed curse. Long story short, I counted back the days from Halloween and planted a wide variety of pumpkins — Dill’s Atlantic, for example. I know from experience that Texas is bigger and better, except with some vegetables and flowers. With the mid-summer heat, it would be a challenge starting plants off in the hottest and driest part of the year. I started the seeds, and they grew so fast on our patio that I had to scramble after work to get them into the ground. I strategically placed them in different spots around the yard where the soil was semi-shaded and not as hard. I realized

Turns out that there’s a creature named a squash vine borer moth, which looks like a big wasp, which had been visiting. She lays her eggs, and these grub-looking creatures grow in the middle of my

-Jeff Longspaugh


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