First Pumpkin Growing – Wigwam Gets a Pumpkin Topper!

My pumpkin wigwam quickly filled with pumpkin vines of the 6 pumpkins planted at the base but I’m realizing training these vines is and was really important – maybe a little too late.

My backyard garden is 9′ x 25′ and part of it is devoted to the dog.  Pumpkins take lots of ground space as they sprawl but I wanted to see if I could get them to go vertical and still produce a few pumpkins.  I should have carefully taped the vines to a dedicated post of the wigwam so they didn’t cross each other and create a vine maze around the wigwam, but I didn’t.  Female flowers started appearing about 2 feet off the ground, then 4 feet off the ground and each looked promising but then aborted before the flower opened.  Just a few days ago one female flower formed right on the top of the wigwam, about 6.5 feet in the air and perfectly centered at the top.  Obviously a heavy pumpkin developing at the very top of my structure is not ideal since I can’t easily reach it and it may be hard to support if needed.  Alas the flower opened and it’s now a green, softball sized ornament atop my pumpkin tree.

Sept  13 2014

Sept 13 2014

My goal is to get maybe 2 pumpkins out of these vines.  In order to allow the sun to get to the vine with the pumpkin forming and also to avoid the vines over growing each other and possibly breaking each other accidentally, I decided to cut back the vines of the plants without promising female flowers to let them regrow and be properly trained up a dedicated pole.  I now have 2 vines with promising pumpkins and cut back the other 4 vines to ground level to start over.  I will be pruning them regularly to keep them stubby and bushy.  If my goal was to create a pumpkin vine wigwam that was full of leafs and bushy – I already accomplished it.  Now I just want to see some pumpkins growing, even if that means my wigwam won’t be full of vines.  It was gut wrenching to cut back the vines practically back to the ground but I really think it will be good long-term.  In my experience, sometimes harsh pruning leads to a stronger plant in the end.  Time will tell!

Also found my first of these kind of insects in the garden on a pumpkin flower – I think it’s a katydid (see above photo!)

Has anyone else tried growing pumpkins vertically?

Any advice on pruning pumpkin vines so that they produce a few pumpkins but don’t overrun the garden?


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