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How close can well composted pumpkins grow?

 
Annie Hope
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I was wondering what space / yield you can get from pumpkins if they are in a woodchip garden with loads of cow manure and other compost offered to them. 
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I've gotten about 20 sugar pumpkins from a traditionally planted row with 7 plants on a spacing of about 3'.  It wasn't particularly well composted or amended.  The vines were probably 10' long.

This year I had 4 pumpkins grow out of my compost pile.  They were very very very well composted.  They generated 30' vines that took over the entry area of my garden, climbed up my bean trellis and crossed over my pergola.  I had pumpkins hanging from the pergola like Chinese lanterns.  One got into the deer fence and horizontally climbed 15' and nearly pulled down the fence with the weight of the pumpkins.  From those plants I got 67 pumpkins but very few got orange before the first frost.  They had to ripen in the basement.  My guess is that the excessive nutrients gave them great growth and productivity but may have messed with their "days to maturity".
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Pumpkins took over
 
Annie Hope
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Thanks for this - by ripen you mean sweeten or go orange?  I thought that once they were picked they did not get any sweeter or more orange.  We are planting a late summer crop in New Zealand (with average maximum temperatures of 19C or 66F), so were are not too hopeful of them getting ripe before the first frost, but we figure the various critters will be happy to eat them through winter anyway.
 
Mike Jay
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I meant turn orange.  I didn't try any when they were green so I'm not sure they weren't ripe, they just didn't look ripe.  We cut up a dozen of them this weekend and froze the puree (future pumpkin pie).  We roasted the seeds and they are wonderful.  The critters should be happy to nibble on yours for sure...
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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They can still be eaten if not mature but taste will be bland - more like a summer squash - and they won't store as long.  I used immature winter squash in things like curry where the flavor could be boosted with spices.  Could probably be used in any summer squash recipe in which the squash mostly takes up space.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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If you have limited space, they happily grow up a trellis or some other support, with only a little help to get them started upwards.  I've grown them up a support and spaced them about a foot apart.  I generally make a mound of fairly fresh chicken bedding (manure and straw), cover with a few inches of soil and plant straight into that.

I usually pinch off the ends of vines once they hit the top of the support, to encourage more sideshoots and flowers.  My climate is not particularly conducive to squash and pumpkins (cool, rainy summers), but I usually manage to get one or two medium sized fruits off each vine.  Since they are only taking up about a foot of garden space apiece, this is a good enough yield for me
 
Su Ba
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Galadriel, that's really interesting! Pumpkins don't necessarily produce well on trellises, but by accepting one fruit per plant on close spacing, then that is just fine. It is a great way for a tiny garden to include pumpkins.

My own pumpkins do best on the ground. They send roots out at each leaf node, which helps the plant. Because of the many different plant pests that attack my pumpkins, many of the plants can survive because of those axillary roots. Sections of the vines die, but others keep in going.

By the way, some varieties have aggressive long vines, while others are real short vines (3'). I've never tried the really short vined ones, but I have grown several long vined varieties and a medium one. I am assuming the short vined ones could be planted closer.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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We plant pumpkins and other squashes about 1 foot apart and let them run down a hill side. Normal yield is 4-6 squash per vine (this is for acorn, butternut, pumpkins (3 varieties) and spaghetti.
Where we grow these is the south slope so they get full sun most of the day, evenings they start to get shaded around 5 pm. we do see some leaf wilt around 3-5 pm (hottest part of the summer day), they recover over night and are perky again in the early am.
 
Annie Hope
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Thanks for that - how far down the hill do the pumpkins run?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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That depends on the variety, we have some pumpkins that run about 15 feet and others go 30 feet.
I try to remember to pinch the growing tip once I see little squash growing on a vine, but I usually forget to do that but once a month.
The vines just run along the ground. We had a surprise "ghost" pumpkin vine last year that got 4 runners that were around 30 feet long.
That plant produced 8 pumpkins per runner, because we totally neglected it until I had to get into the enclosed trailer.
Two of the vines had grown in front of the tail gate and I had to carefully move them so the pumpkins would not get crushed.
We had 4 of those fruits succumb to squash bug infestation but the rest were quite nice when they ripened.

Redhawk
 
Galadriel Freden
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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Su Ba wrote: by accepting one fruit per plant on close spacing, then that is just fine. It is a great way for a tiny garden to include pumpkins.


I really do have a tiny garden space and the one time I let them grow along the ground they took over everything--and I only got one pumpkin out of six vines in total...  Not only was it a miserable pumpkin yield, most of the other plants were negatively affected.  But really, I think that's due to my climate rather than typical pumpkin behavior.  I still grow them because I love pumpkin pie and they don't sell canned pumpkin here
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Galadriel, We do trellis some of our squashes and we have found that using nylon mesh material like a sling helps a lot with the trellis squashes. It supports them so the stress on the vine goes way down.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Galadriel, We do trellis some of our squashes and we have found that using nylon mesh material like a sling helps a lot with the trellis squashes. It supports them so the stress on the vine goes way down.


Thanks, good tip!
 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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I grow 4-5 squash right next to each other on not-quite-cured compost heaps, and they all produce. The compost heap acts as a giant sponge to keep everything watered, and I tend to train them to all grow out in different directions (one direction being up the fence at the back of the compost heap).

Certainly my most efficient use of otherwise unused space in my garden!
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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