Grantford
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Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

I finally have my first ever baby pumpkin after years of trying the fruit set last week! After years of fruitless labor I want to protect and keep it safe.
My question is I have seen squirrels in my backyard as well as rabbits and rats and of course birds. Do they all go after unripe pumpkins? Should I put a fence around the sole pumpkin I have even though it is only the size of a golfball?

If so what do you recommend to put up to protect the pumpkin but not hurt the main vine? Any info would be much appreciated as I found a bunch of info on insects and diseases that cause problems but nothing on if critters do and how to stop it from happening.

I attached a photo of my plant and one of they few day old pumpkin (I live in Chicago, IL)
Any help would be much appreciated!
Thanks,
Grantford
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applestar
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Hi and welcome to the forum. :D

This year was my pumpkin and squash experiment year. And I have been looking at many pollinated and not so pollinated female blossoms. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news since you are so excited about this, but the one in the photo you posted does not look good. It has the distinct yellowish cast of unsuccessfully pollinated female blossom.

BUT DON'T DESPAIR. :bouncey:

If this was the first female blossom, there will be more. Female blossoms have the little pumpkin attached at the base, but it needs to be well pollinated with the pollen from the male blossom to set fruit. Even though my garden is buzzing with bees and other pollinators, I have found that even then, pollination can fail when left to nature's work. The ones that I have hand pollinated have set fruit without fail. so I recommend you do that with the next female fruit.

As for protecting the pumpkin, waterbug has the best idea. You may be tempted to jump directly to the link he mentions for full instructions, but do read the linked thread as well -- it is a great source of useful information.

I can't remember if hand pollinating is mentioned in this thread. I or someone else can post more details later.

Subject: Help me please. Compost bin pumpkin patch

TheWaterbug wrote:
Watchrebel wrote:2) Next dilema; At 4 feet I will have a foot of space to create some sort of "critter barrier". I will need to protect against rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and armadillos at the bare minimum.
I have problems with squirrels and peafowl (mostly the latter), and I made a whole mess of these to protect them:

Image

I have a more complete description of the materials and construction in this thread here.

Although I mention squirrels a lot in my prior threads, I've come to the conclusion that it's mostly peacocks that are doing the damage. These cages should protect against any of the critters you listed except for the raccoons.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

PaulF
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Most critters don't go after pumpkins or squash in my garden. In your area it is pretty late for vine crops, even the little pumpkins need a couple of months of good, hot sunlight to ripen. I hope you have a crop to harvest. I think squash bugs and some other insects will be your biggest problem. Next year plant the seeds as soon as the soil warms up and you will have lots more growth and fruit. Good luck.
Paul F

Grantford
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Thanks for all the tips guys!

Applestar I fear you are right about the pollination not taking. However I hand pollinated another one yesterday and it looks much more promising as it is already much larger than it was a day ago. Here is a pic let me know what you think.

Thanks again!!

Grantford
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Grantford
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Hey PaulF or anyone else. I planted basically June 1st and if I am just starting to get female flowers on a regular basis and its basically september 1st. When should I plant next year to ensure I have several ripe pumpkins a week or two before Halloween??

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

You still have two months to Halloween! You should be OK.

Your pumpkin variety will tell you its days to maturity. E.g. this has a list of some common pumpkin varieties and their d-t-m:

https://www.backyard-vegetable-gardening ... eties.html

So if you know your variety, you can look up it's d-t-m. Then you just count backward. So if you are growing Triple Threat and it has d-t-m 110 days. Counting back from Halloween, that puts it to around July 10. A week or two before Halloween would move it to about July 1.

But the d-t-m is figured on time from when a TRANSPLANT (not a seed), goes in the ground until when the first pumpkin is ready. You said you planted June 1, but you didn't say if that was transplants or seeds. If you are planting seeds you should back the date up another 2-3 weeks. And if you want to allow time to have "several" fruits ready that would back it up another 2-3 weeks.

You didn't say where you are located. The limiting factor will be frost free days. You can't plant pumpkins (in the ground) until the ground is well warmed up, which could be up to a month past your average last frost date. So if your frost free season is short, you need to look for a quick maturing variety.
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Grantford
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Thanks so much rainbowgardener! Your info was just what I didn't know. I had no idea that wasn't from seed. I planted seeds June 1st and looks like I was way over zealous as I bought a 10 seed pack in e-bay from a record breaking Atlantic Dill.
Lol seems like gardening is like everything else you learn the most from your failures and experience is the most valuable tool.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Dill's Atlantic Giants are the ones that are supposed to be able to get to be 2000 pounds. Of course it takes a long time to do that. They have a d-t-m of 130 days. And it won't get to be huge like that unless you work really hard at it with tons of water and fertilizer. And to get one huge pumpkin, they only get one. Once one pumpkin is well under way, they cut off any others.

Personally I never saw the point of it. Takes so much water and feeding and work and then you have one giant pumpkin that is too big to move and isn't even edible.

So you aren't going to have several unless you have several plants which means an acre or so of garden, since the plants are also gigantic.

June 1 seems like a reasonable date to have planted the seed though. That gives you 130 days + 3 wks for the seed to sprout and get transplant sized, counting to Halloween. But of course the dtm is an estimate and it is probably based on best conditions and care.

Water and fertilize like mad! Like I said you do still have two months.

https://www.howarddill.com/hdpatch.html
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Grantford
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Thanks once again rainbow! The photo of my plant in the top post was taken Aug. 24th and that was the week I finally saw a female flower blossom after over a month of all male flowers. I know that is the sunniest spot I have I just must not get enough sun there early summer so I will plant earlier next year.

As for the point of the giants for me it is the same reason I go to a farm an hour away instead of the home depot that is three blocks away every Christmas to pick out and hand cut the best tree that will fit as close to 5 inches below my 13ft ceiling as possible. I drove three hours last year to buy a 400lb pumpkin to display in my front yard. No you can't eat it but the joy I saw the kids that would walk by everyday as I am on a busy street in the city was more than worth it for me. I have started in the past two years to grow other veggies that I eat but my purpose for the pumpkin is to learn how to grown them and in several years grow my own giant to have in the front yard not to enter it in some contest or anything.

I just fertilized them today and still have hope I will harvest my first pumpkin ever even if it is unripe that would be huge for me.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Do keep us posted and show us how it comes out! :)
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jal_ut
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

Growing seasons and conditions vary so much all over that it is hard for me to make recommendations. I can only say that for me to get a pumpkin in my high altitude garden with a little over 100 days frost free, I have to plant early. About May 5 works for pumpkins and squash here. That is a few days before the last frost, but by the time the seeds germinate they stand a good chance of growing without getting frozen.

I like to plant squash and pumpkins in a field in hills of 5 seeds per hill and hills spaced 6 feet apart each way. Once the plant vines start to run, just stand back. They take the whole area over. When the first frost kills the leaves, just go out and gather up the fruit. Squash vines will send down roots at every leaf node. So the roots get spread around too.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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TheWaterbug
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

applestar wrote:As for protecting the pumpkin, waterbug has the best idea. You may be tempted to jump directly to the link he mentions for full instructions, but do read the linked thread as well -- it is a great source of useful information.
Thanks for the kudos :D

Since Grantford is growing Atlantic Giants, you may want to look at last year's thread on Giant Pumpkins. As the fruit got bigger I ended up making a little fence/pen for each:

Image
Sunset 23/USDA 11a, Elev. 783', Frost free since 8,000 BC. Plagued by squirrels, gophers, and peafowl, but coming to terms with it!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

This person made all of his posts the same day (8/31) and has never been back.

But just in case, Grantford, now that its just over one month til Halloween, how about an update, how is your pumpkin doing now?

For future reference, if you want pumpkin(s) ready for Halloween, it would be a lot easier to do if you start with smaller varieties. If you get good at that, then you can go back and try your hand again at the Giants.

Best Wishes!
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jal_ut
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

I kept some seed from a few pumpkins last year. Planted them this season and got some funny looking fruit. Interesting, but, for real pumpkins, best to plant good seed from a reliable seed company. It would be OK to save pumpkin seed if you only had pumpkins and not other varieties of squashes for them to cross with.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Question about critters and my baby pumpkins

I don't get giant anything. Jay may only have 120 planting days but the days are long, he gets a good head start and he's got it wired.

My days are 10-13 hours all year. I have a longer growing season, but short days means that I will never be able to get a giant anything. I can get tomatoes close to a pound and pumpkins ready in June but I don't have a long enough day to get the jumbo sizes.

Good luck on growing your giant pumpkin.

P.S. You either have a big yard or your vine looks short. When I had a winter squash or pumpkin vine they pretty much took over my yard and tried to take over the neighbor's too.
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