Growing a Pumpkin - A Tale of Obsession

A Tale of Obsession

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up? Mine is ‘the pumpkin.’ My family have given up on me; they despair at the time I spend simply staring at the developing fruit. They have actually walked away when I’ve been in conversation about the beast with friends. They are appalled at my ability to turn any conversation, any, to pumpkin growing.

‘How are things?’, ‘Keeping well?’ and ‘How’s life treating you?’  are perfect opening questions for me. (My answers: ‘Pumpkin’s growing well’; ‘The pumpkin is’ and ‘Not as good as I am treating that pumpkin.’)

However, ‘‘What do you think about Brexit?’, ‘Do you think Donald Trump should impose sanctions on Iran?’ and ‘What time is it?’ are slightly trickier opening gambits to steer to pumpkin chat, but I can. (My answers: ‘Whatever happens at least my pumpkin intake is safe as I’m growing my own’; ‘Not sure but can you grow pumpkins in an Iranian climate?’ and ‘Time I watered the pumpkin.’

And it all started way back in April.

Humble beginnings

a pumpkin seed in a packet ready to be potted

The seeds from a champion pumpkin were sown into fibre pots and peat and green waste free compost. Placed in a heated propagator, they soon germinated.

I grew the seedlings on and planted the plants out into a compost bin full of homemade compost topped up with more quality multi-purpose compost and a secret mix of fertilizers. ‘Secret’ = whatever I happened to have in the shed.

The beast got its roots down and soon spread its leaves.

A pumpkin seed sprouting in a pot

It spread those leaves wide. I trained the pumpkin vine along the shed, up the side and up and over the roof.

The heatwave was in full force and to be honest, the lack of female flowers didn’t bother me too much - it looked quirky growing up and over the shed and if any fruit started to develop that would be a bonus.

That bonus appeared.

Taking grow-your-own to the next level - literally

A pumpkin growing on a garden shed shaded by an umbrella

Unfortunately, it was right on the side of the roof resulting in me sliding a metre square chipboard panel beneath the pumpkin to allow it to develop. And that takes some doing as the pumpkin had to be lifted and the board manoeuvred all at once. I did it. And placed a supportive net around the cricket ball sized fruit to stop it ripping itself from the vine as it developed.

Or rather, if it developed as pumpkins are notoriously fickle. Here today and rotting tomorrow.

An umbrella shading a pumpkin growing on a shed

Mine grew.

New netting, more securing of the chipboard (or ‘growth platform’ as I now describe it!) and even a small umbrella secured using Velcro and wire to protect the fruit from the scorching sun was employed.

Neighbours have begun to avoid eye contact. My family refuse to walk to the top of the garden and our youngest has stopped inviting his friends round to play in the garden.

It still grows.

And still it grows...

A pumpkin netted for support

Now, at the beginning of August, it is the size of a beach ball. A slightly under inflated beach ball but bigger than the cricket ball it was three weeks ago. Obviously, I’ve checked on the internet to see how big these things can get. The size of a Smart car? Yep. Fruits requiring hoists, straps and ‘reinforced tarps’ to shift them are all possible.

So, the sky’s the limit at the moment.

Growth platform reinforcements are being planned (more chipboard). I have spotted a bigger umbrella in the back of the car that would be perfect should the hot weather continue and the swelling fruit get bigger, and I always have a ball of string handy to lasso and lash the beast to the roof.

The shed needs to be strong though - and it is. None of that felt roofing stuff for me. I was lucky to have wooden slats fitted as the final touch to my gorgeous shed / pumpkin elevator. Tomato food is still on hand for the weekly feeds, a watering can drips two gallons a night onto the compost surface and the umbrella shield is holding firm.

Obsessed? Me? Nah. Just keen.