Death of the Pumpkin

The pumpkin has gone.

Not stolen or misplaced (no one could accidently lose that beast) but ...died.

Everything was going well until two days ago.

Phil's pumpkin growing on top of his shedThe discovery

It was early morning and I did the usual round of watering - leaving the hosepipe dripping into the compost heap, home to the roots - followed by a quick check of the leaves and developing fruit. The fruit had been visibly swelling each day for the last few weeks. But two days ago, it hadn’t grown any bigger. This coincided with a drop in temperature so I wasn't too bothered. I reported back to the family.

‘The pumpkin hasn’t swollen overnight but there's nothing to worry about’ I announced.

‘ ------,’ came the reply. The pumpkin growers life is a solitary one.

Rotting pumpkin in a skip

Then, the next day, I walked up the garden to check the pumpkin when - to my horror - I noticed black pitted areas on the flower end of the pumpkin. Minor disfigurement? I got the step ladder out (remember - it is growing on the shed roof supported by a PGP (Pumpkin Growth Platform - or sheet of wood) and protected by a BPSRU (Bespoke Pumpkin Solar Reflective Unit - or umbrella)) and was shocked to see shrunken areas on the fruit. Mould was developing. I swatted a couple of inquisitive wasps away and returned to the house.

‘It’s dying. The pumpkin is dying.’

‘ ------,’ as tumbleweed blew through the lounge.

‘Really. It’s rotting.’

‘ ------.’

The leaves and roots of a rotten pumpkinI did the usual check of the leaves, roots and stems. Everything looked fine. No diseases, virus or insects on the leaves. Stems were in fine fettle. Now you are probably thinking, ‘Well, if one fruit has rotten simply cut it off and let the others grow.’

Now, I have to admit to removing all other fruits to allow this big one to develop - to allow the plant to pour all of its energies into producing one massive fruit capable of tipping the scales at the local pumpkin competition. So all my pumpkins were in one basket (or pumpkin on hessian sacks). I was snookered.

It was beyond repair so with a heavy heart the whole lot was ripped out of the compost bin and off the roof. The fruit was soft and messy. It stunk.

Phil's pumpkin abandoned in a skipThe investigation

I retired to my computer to investigate. Diseases can be carried on seeds so it could it have been that? Nah - reputable company.  Overwatering / underwatering causing stress - it certainly wasn’t that as I was spot on. Fertiliser problems? No way. I scientifically followed a well-used diet. Sun scorch? Remember, I utilised the BPSRU. So, I narrowed it down to one of three things:

  1. Wasps: they have been scratching at the shed door to get material for a nearby nest so perhaps they ventured onto the skin, had a poke about and introduced rotting?
  2. Sabotage: locally, people have been talking about the pumpkin so perhaps someone has stuck the knife in, literally, to the end of the pumpkin? Competition is fierce.  
  3. Just one of those things.

Phil's shed without the pumpkinThe garden just isn’t the same now.

But I'm intrigued to know if any of you have had the same problem and did you ever get an answer?