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2 year hugel bed and the maxima squash dilemma

 
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Background on the bed; was a partially sunken fish pond with 2 distinct depths that I didn't  alter much after removing fish, water and liner before loading the layers. I did leave the wood aboveground frame of about 6 foot by 4 foot and perhaps 18 inches all above ground level, so it is also a raised bed. Once built, I seeded alfalfa and flax. I allowed anything to grow that would and saw a few wild sunflowers, wild lettuce and dandelions.

Before planting it this year I did what I could to swish it around and help things settle before adding additional soil to the top. Fill in some depth where needed in order to be relatively level.

In February I planted the seeds for the small tomatoes, a few cucumbers and 6 of the recently market harvested medium sized, blue-gray skinned "heirloom" pumpkin. I paid about $8 for it. It said jarrahdale.  I looked that up in Suzanne Ashworth 's Seed To Seed. It's a maxima, but was only about 12 dense pounds of deep orange, sweet meat! Of those 6, 5 came up and reached the hugel bed. I've since pinched out the 3rd wheel of 1 group.

We ( the seedlings and I) endured several harsh overnight lows for this area and for the babies as well. I resorted to plastic gallon jugs with caps on and 2 layers of shade cloth to keep the frost off. I didn't cover my bananas as well as I could have and really should have because the frosts did enough damage to cause the next in line to flower to do so without leaves or any warmer temperatures to support it. But I digress.

4 squash plants placed over the deepest end of the pond. I have identified no less than 10 females in various stages, the oldest about a week after hand pollination is still not larger than a baseball. I'm certain I've also identified where lateral vines are beginning to sprout that I see have some of those females.

My quandary is do I go for maximum numbers and only interfere by gentle direction and a pinched umbrella-sized leaf now and then? Or would I be better served by pinching laterals and thinning fruit to some imposed maximum limit of fruits per plant? Sort of like thinning tree fruit to gain size and quality.

I have an idea of what kind of monster this may be allowing to go completely untamed. I've grown Big Max before,  3 plants took over an entire large corner of a large yard giving me 7 or 8 fruits weighing in between 25 and 65 pounds each.

20220504_180934.jpg
Oldest baby pumpkin- 1 wk past hand pollination
Oldest baby pumpkin- 1 wk past hand pollination
20220504_181123.jpg
Lateral vine coming from below that eldest
Lateral vine coming from below that eldest
20220504_180845.jpg
Today's pollination #1
Today's pollination #1
20220504_180911.jpg
Isn't that just the cutest infant squash
Isn't that just the cutest infant squash
 
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For me, bigger squash are always harder to work with, so if I could trade size for quantity, that's desireable for food, but if I wanted a spectacle, I'd limit it to 1-2 squash per plant and really get them huge
 
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Very cool! If you are going for food value I would just let them grow and have smaller fruits, but you could also prune one plant for a fewer, larger fruits so you can have the best of both worlds.

I have to laugh, my hugelkultur has it's first volunteer sprouting and I just made it! It's a pumpkin I threw in the compost a few years ago. LOL strong little bugger!
 
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So are you growing these pumpkins to store over the winter so you can cook them as you go?   Or are you planning to cook and can them once they have matured and not store them at all?

Sounds like if it's a matter of storage, which for over-wintering pumpkins would required a cool, dry, dark place like a shed that doesn't store gasoline (for fumes) or machinery with stinky tires, or a generator that would put off exhaust.   Be sure they don't touch each other in storage, and if you can put each one up on a couple of bricks a couple inches apart, or cement blocks with the spaces up, for air flow underneath they will last longer.

I used to grow the biggest pumpkin up in a wheelbarrow, then it was easier to move it at the end of the season.  But that was just one pumpkin.  That was the year we had a Christmas pumpkin, and carved trees, stars, candy canes on it.  Kinda fun.
 
Deedee Dezso
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Cristo Balete wrote:So are you growing these pumpkins to store over the winter so you can cook them as you go?   Or are you planning to cook and can them once they have matured and not store them at all?

Sounds like if it's a matter of storage, which for over-wintering pumpkins would required a cool, dry, dark place like a shed that doesn't store gasoline (for fumes) or machinery with stinky tires, or a generator that would put off exhaust.   Be sure they don't touch each other in storage, and if you can put each one up on a couple of bricks a couple inches apart, or cement blocks with the spaces up, for air flow underneath they will last longer.

I used to grow the biggest pumpkin up in a wheelbarrow, then it was easier to move it at the end of the season.  But that was just one pumpkin.  That was the year we had a Christmas pumpkin, and carved trees, stars, candy canes on it.  Kinda fun.



Cristo, I'm growing these simply because I can. Early next year we will be moving across country to start a new life working towards off grid living at age 60! We are moving to live with my youngest daughter, helping her and her family to get 40 acres producing lots of food before we get too old and need help taking care of ourselves without assistance.

I initially intend to collect the seeds to plant after we get settled. I'm thinking to give away the rest to neighbors. Then I thought maybe we will have space to bring a few along. I've also thought to dehydrate the flesh, making it compact and lightweight for packing. Ultimately I really don't know what I will do with whatever makes it to harvest, beyond seed saving.
 
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