Mound or rows?

eliottOctober 19, 2007

Is it better to plant pumpkins in mounds or rows? Also, how big would a mound need to be if it's the better choice, how many seeds per mound, etc? Finally, what about spacing? How far apart do seeds need to be; should I plant more than one seed in each hole or plant one seed by itself?

Thanks for any help!

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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

eliott,

The main reason for mounds is to have the small seedlings up on higher, warmer, dryer, and deeper topsoil. If you have dry, warm and sandy soil, I would want them more in lower rows.

In mounds I would plant three seeds per mound and thin to the one best seedling while small. I would make mounds about 4 or 5 feet apart for medium sized pumpkins. Watch out for cucumber beetles while the seedlings are very small.....squash bugs and squash vine bore later.

In rows plant seedlings about 2 feet apart and thin to 4 feet apart. If you have a lot of seeds, sow thicker, but thin to 4 or 5 feet.

I

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 6:59PM
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farmerdilla

Agree with Wayne on the major reasons for mounds (call them hills down here) It also gives them an advantage over weeds and they get off to a faster start. I do not plant them flat. Actually I use low wide lists. Think of it as a row converted to a continuous mound. The choice of whether to use a hill or a list method depends on whether you are planting tow or three hills by hand or field. Spacing depends on the type of cultivar. Pie pumpkins maybe at 4 ft. If you are growing a cultivar that reaches 30-50 pounds 8-10 ft.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:11PM
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digit(ID/WA)

Do you use a lister plow, Farmerdilla?

They call it a "middlebuster" around here but that's not what my dad calls it.

I'm still imitating the result with hand tools.

Steve

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 7:48AM
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farmerdilla

I am currently using disk listers on the cultivator frame. In the old days we used a one horse plow.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 8:47AM
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eliott

What would I do with the plants after thinning, just get rid of them? Would transplanting them to an unused bit of ground maybe be better, or do they not transplant good? Also, what're the consequences of not thinning? Would they just not produce as large of a fruit, or would it just not fruit at all? I'm not planting very large pumpkins, around 50% pie pumpkins the size of two fists and the rest some medium-sized five or so pound Jack O'-Lanterns and small to medium white pumpkins.

The size of the garden isn't too large, 12 20 foot rows last season. Given the fact that my garden has a problem with weeds since it's been unused for 15 years until this summer, planting them on a mound might actually help keep them from being overtaken with grass if I understood correctly.

What're some organic methods of getting rid of squash bugs and borers? If there aren't any, what are some other methods? I strive for organic, but I don't want a crop that doesn't produce anything. I've got a few small volunteer pumpkin vines growing in my yard from last year's Jack O'-Lantern guts, and today for the first time I noticed a single squash bug on it, so next year when I plant a garden full I probably shall notice more than just this one.

Phew, now that about covers any questions I have on pumpkins. :P

Thanks, Eliott

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 7:07PM
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farmerdilla

Elliot,1. I treat thinnings as weeds. They can be transplanted when very young, before they get real leaves by taking out a plug of dirt containing all the roots. They don't transplant well and if you disturb the roots when transplanting they are history. Seeds are cheap and labor is expensive even if it is my own.
2. crowding results usually in undersize fruits. Severe overcrowding could result in no fruits especially when other stress factors are involved.
3. There are a lot of organic approved insecticides, how well they work I don't know. I would plant C. moschata types that resist SVB. I don't have severe problems with squash bugs, more damage on tomatoes than squash.

Here is a link that might be useful: C. moschata

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 8:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"What're some organic methods of getting rid of squash bugs and borers?"

For unprotected plants, I agree with Farmadilla; C. moschata (butternuts, cheeses, and some Asian squashes) are not as susceptible as C. maxima & C. pepo. Squash bugs will still attack the plants, and the wilt they carry may kill a few... but I have never seen the large numbers of nymphs so common on my other squashes. They don't seem to be especially fond of them, and I don't find them at all on mature plants.

For C. maxima & C. pepo, I have had good luck protecting the seedlings with floating row cover. I cut the covers wide, and leave them on until flowering begins, or until the vines grow too large for the cover. By this time, they are healthy enough to resist the squash bugs & cuke beetles, and they seem to have missed the window for SVB infestation.

My harvest of hubbards, buttercups, or acorns was very poor (sometimes a total loss) without this method. Last year, under cover, 100% of my hubbards survived, and bore heavily (they were a total loss last year uncovered). This year only 2 of 10 of my acorns survived uncovered... an experiment with painfully predictable results. Next year, I will cover them all.

I have had some luck in years past with planting bush acorns within a large block of corn. The plants were spread out within the block, rather than together in rows; while I lost a few to squash bugs & SVB, over 50% survived.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 1:49AM
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eliott

So all varieties of butternut squash are borer resistant, or at least have good survivability? Would seed from any old butternut squash in the grocery store work to plant? I inferred, possibly incorrectly, from the site that farmadilla posted to that certain varieties of butternut squash seed they sold didn't produce seeds for replanting or something of that nature.

Also, would butternuts need to be hand-pollinated in areas without many bees? Most farmers here quit growing pumpkins in as large of quantities because of a decline in the bees, so I'm going to hand-pollinate all of my plants this coming spring. Is this needed for butternuts too?

Part of the reason I'm interested in harvesting my own seed is because I'm trying to stay prepared for any sort of possible future emergency when commercial items might not be as readily available, such as a war or occupation, so having knowledge like organic treatments and bug-resistant strains as well as ones that are easily grown from their own seed is something I'm looking into a lot. So far, corn, okra and pumpkins/squash are likely what I'll be planting from their own seed because they seem to do pretty good when planted like that.

In modern society, centuries of cultural knowledge are lost to the majority, such as farming, fishing/hunting, clothes-making, basic construction, animal husbandry, etc. As such, many people are in a particularly vulnerable and dependent state, so having as much knowledge of these things can help one to survive as well as teach others the essentials to surviving.

Rambled a bit off topic there, but oh well!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 11:07AM
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digit(ID/WA)

Eliott, if you are thinking about Winter storage for your pumpkins, squash may be a much better way for you to go.

Pumpkin will not last very long in storage and many varieties have been developed for ornamental use rather than as a food. Most Winter squashes are delicious and become even sweeter in storage.

Additionally, if you want to save the seed you should know that pumpkins are related to zucchini. Both are commonly grown in our gardens and they cross. Bees are not concerned about maintaining the genetic purity of your crops and a cross between a pumpkin and a zucchini isn't most people's idea of something very good to eat.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Storage for Pumpkin & Squash - OSU

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 3:55PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Elliot, pretty much any butternut can be grown from their seed... while the supermarket squash are most likely hybrids, the squash grown from them (while variable in size & maturity) would still be recognizable as butternuts. If you are interested in serious seed saving, however, it might be best to start with an OP variety.

Some Southern growers on GW have reported losses due to SVB on butternuts, but many others (self included) have had no problems. Perhaps it depends upon the degree of infestation in the local area. While the moths might lay eggs on them, the solid stems are more resistant to damage than the hollow stems of C. pepo & C. maxima.

As for pollination... you might need to hand-pollinate, but only in years where you are saving seed. Most years this should be unnecessary; unless your area is devoid of other pollen sources, there should be enough bees to pollinate the squash. While honeybees have been on the decline, many other bees (such as bumblebees) find squash blossoms attractive, and should get the job done. You can improve your chances by planting long-blooming flowers throughout your vegetable garden, to keep the bees coming back.

"In modern society, centuries of cultural knowledge are lost to the majority..."

Have you been reading my posts??? ;-) I couldn't agree more... a topic better discussed at length on another thread.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 7:04PM
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