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Container Growing
Container Growing

Container Gardening with Pumpkins
by Julie Martens Forney

Get started by choosing your container. Think big—containers in the 20- to 25-gallon range work best. You might squeak by with a 10-gallon container for a single vine of miniature pumpkins, but bigger is better. If you’re unsure the volume of a potential container, look for ones that are 36 inches across. Some gardeners grow pumpkins in a typical 6-foot-wide plastic children’s swimming pool.

Unless you’re using a self-watering container, make sure your pot has drainage holes. Irrigation water should be able to flow freely from the container to avoid creating soggy soil. If your container lacks drainage holes, add them. Several smaller holes work better than one large hole.

Purchase a commercial, bagged soilless mix specifically recommended for container growing. When filling your pot, combine equal parts of this mix with compost. Work the compost into the bottom half of the pot. If you’re using homegrown compost, strain it to make sure you’re not adding insects to your container. They’ll most likely move in later, but as seedlings emerge, you don’t want insects munching on your plant.

The reason to add compost is twofold: first, to improve the soil’s ability to hold water. You can also add a single shovelful of good garden loam to the container, along with some water retention crystals. Both actions help the soil to retain water, which your thirsty pumpkin vine will appreciate.

The second reason to add compost is to enhance the soil’s fertility. Pumpkins have big appetites, and while compost helps take the edge off, so to speak, you should also mix slow-release fertilizer into soil prior to planting. Keep soil about two inches below the pot rim, and add a layer of mulch to help slow water loss from soil.

Sow 3 to 4 seeds per pot, and thin seedlings to one or two, depending on how large your pot is, once they have their second set of true leaves. If you can’t allow pumpkin vines to sprawl, build a sturdy trellis and train vines to it. Create some kind of sling to hold developing fruits. Many people use pieces of panty hose for this task.

Pumpkins have a huge thirst, so plan to water frequently. Fertilize every few weeks with a complete fertilizer containing trace minerals. Avoid over-fertilization with nitrogen, which yields vines with lots of leaves but few fruits. Pumpkins growing in containers can’t support a heavy fruit load. A full crop of miniature pumpkins should mature fine on a container-grown pumpkin, but for larger fruits, remove two out of three blossoms to limit fruit set.

Grow smaller pumpkin varieties in containers, such as Spooktacular, Baby Bear, Baby Pam, and Small Sugar, which yield 2- to 5-pound fruits roughly 6 to 10 inches across. Wee Be Little, Baby Boo, and Jack Be Little, miniature pumpkins, also grow well in containers.

Growing miniature Jack B. Little and Baby Boo pumpkins takes up a whole lot less space. Many people grow them along fences, on trellises, or down from a balcony or deck.

How to Grow Jack Be Little Miniature Pumpkins:

JBLs take up far less space than Jack O'Lanterns. You can grow them on a trellis, or fence. You can even grow them in large pots, and let them hang down from your deck.

Plant them indoors, or sow directly outside in the spring. Like other pumpkin varieties, they are tender annuals. Plant after the last frost in your area.

If you have limited space, plant miniature pumpkins be a fence or trellis. Train them up to the fence. You can also grow them in large containers. The trick is to provide a large container, and to add lots of fertilizer and plenty of water on a regular basis.

Keep miniature pumpkin plants well watered. It's best to keep the soil moist, not wet. Apply fertilizers on a regular basis.

Like all pumpkin varieties, many insects and plant diseases can affect miniature pumpkin plants. Apply organic insecticides and fungicides early, and on a regular basis.

Harvesting Miniature Pumpkins: Each plant produces up to 8-10 cute, little miniature pumpkin fruits. Harvest when they turn completely orange, and the stem has dried and turned brown in color. Cut the stem near the vine with a sharp knife. Be careful not to break the stem. Like larger pumpkins, the stem gives JBLs character.

balconygardenweb container growing

Butternut in a pot

Use a 5 to 7 inch deep pot so that you can grow lovely winter squash varieties – these may include: Cornell Bush Delicata Papaya Pear Table King’

Container pumpkins need to be watered often as the container does not hold much water. This can lead to iron deficiency as the water washes out the nutrients from the soil.
We planted Fairytale, buttercup/turban, delicata/dumpling, pink banana ans casper. The fairytale has fruit and is healthy looking, save for the newest tendri which is yellowing.
The turban plants, on the other hand, have been going down hill for weeks now. We've ruled out bugs, and disease as reasons for the yellowing dying leaves and vine.
However, it turns out that over-watering the soil can wash out the iron. Stopping watering is not the greatest option, as the plants are in rather small containers which we've been watering 3-6 times a day. Also a 4 day thunderstorm is coming up from the South, so we are due a lot of rain.
Some tips on fixing too-wet soil:
You can improve your soil’s drainage by adding coarse grit and this is highly desirable on heavy, sticky soil - but counter productive on lighter soil.

However adding well-rotted, home-made garden compost on a yearly basis will helps to aerate any soil, thereby aiding drainage.

If you haven’t got a compost heap, build one. The other thing is to light titillate the soil surface, using a small hand fork, without treading on the soil. There are long-handled versions available. This will break up the pan, and allow further rain to sink in better.

We also intend to add iron into the soil using something called csn plantex.

Squash by growing type

Bush Varieties:
Butterbush butternut
Carnival acorn
Pump Ke Mon mini-pumpkin
Mandan mini-pumpkin
Kakai pumpkin
Millionaire pumpkin
White acorn, Casperita acorn
Fordhook acorn
Sunshine kabocha
Snack Jack pumpkin
Golden Nugget, Windsor kabocha
Table Gold acorn
King Bush Table acorn, Sweet Reba, Reno
Orange Cutie buttercup, Bush buttercup
Redondo Tronco hubbard
Blue Ballet hubbard
Ambar hubbard
Honey Bear acorn
Makaronowa Warszawska spaghetti
Kakai, Styrian (semi-bush)
Sweet Mama F1 buttercup
Sunshine, Orange Cutie F1 kabocha Most Buttercups are climbers and have a large vine, with there also being some bush-types.

Climbing, vining varieties for lattice, fence, trellis:
Zucca Mantovana hubbard
Loche du Perou hubbard
Tuffy acorn
Baby Bear, Jack be Little, Zulu, Joko Japones, Greenseed pumpkin
Potiron d'Alencon hubbard
Honeynut butternut
Red Kuri hokkaido
Carrizo butternut
Jester, Honey boat delicata
Chihuahua cushaw
kamo kamo
Mongogo of Guatemala, Piedras Verdes (runner)
lakota (excellent climber)
Sweet Dumpling (trellised)
Pacheco (medium length) pepo
Hidemi (short vine), kogiku (vertical grown) Armor (normal to vigor) black pumpkin
gem (trailing vine) pepo

Sprawling or long vine varieties:
Sibley, Taos, Hopi Grey hubbard
Queensland Blue, Beaudesert hubbard
Table Queen, Royal acorn
Santo Domingo cushaw
Green, Olive Green hubbard
Gusto de Horno, Marina di Chiogga hubbard
Green Hokkaido, Potiron Doux kabocha
Taiwan Honey butternut
Omaha, Candelaria pumpkin
Jaspee De Vendee pumpkin
Boston marrow, Golden hubbard
Akaguri, Geneva hokkaido
Butterkin, Buckskin, Ibiza moschata
Dickinson, Musquee de Provence, Texas Indian moschata
Paydon acorn
Sweet Potato, Tennessee Old Fashioned Vining squash
Blanche of Dauphiné (runner)
Blanc Du Maroc
Green Stripe, Chimayo Calabaza Cushaw
Vera Cruz Pepita (climbing)
Turban (8'-10' vine)
Palav Kadu (medium size vine)
Arikara (12' vine), Knife River, Madera
Theron hubbard (10m vine)
Moranga Exposicao, Boliviana Pumpkin (vine) hubbard
Garbo (medium vine) hubbard
Friedrich Nietzsche (large vine) hubbard
Arka Suryamukhi (medium vine) hubbard
Rio Lucio (sprawling, some can be trellised) hubbard
Caipira (vine) butternut
thai rai kaw tok (large vines), Baramasi (long vines) black pumpkin

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