How {Not} to Grow a Pumpkin Patch

Back in June, my husband and I, sat on the patio at our new house and talked about our wishes for the backyard. We finally have our own yard after living in a townhouse for 5 years and apartments before that.

The hubby wanted to get a shed. I wanted a cherry tomato container garden, and to plant something FUN. I mean, your standard garden vegetables are healthy and delicious, but I wanted to grow something that would be really neat for our 3-year-old to help with.

So my brilliant idea that day was to start a pumpkin patch!

I told my husband, “If you don’t want to do this, tell me now.” Because lets face it, he was going to be doing the dirty work ­– digging up the grass and getting the dirt ready to plant seeds. He was on board and maybe even a little excited about the pumpkins too.

We loaded up the whole family and off to the garden center we went for pumpkin seeds, garden tools and a wheelbarrow.

Oh, the dreams I had for our patch! I imagined my front porch filled with little pumpkins this fall.

Plus, we have a big helper who would be so excited to help plant, water and pick pumpkins from our own patch. Then he can help me daddy carve the pumpkins.

And, if we have lots and lots of pumpkins, we could be the awesome house in the neighborhood that hands out pumpkins to all of the kids on the block.

Like I said, those were the dreams. And this is what we got instead…

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We grew 10 mini pumpkins and a random green one (hmmmm…where’d he come from? It doesn’t look like any of the seed packets!) My husband thought it was a watermelon. Because, well, it looks like a watermelon!  And notice it is hanging up in the air from the vines that grew up the fence.  Don’t know how we managed that!

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Since I am such an expert pumpkin grower (ha ha!), I have a few tips for you – in case you ever get the brilliant idea to grow pumpkins at your house. Please learn from my mistakes…

1. Don’t spend just 5 seconds looking up “How To Grow Pumpkins” on the Internet.  

All you need is dirt, seeds, water and sunshine, right??? Well, maybe just maybe, a little more research would be helpful in the pumpkin growing process.

2. Don’t plant TOO MANY seeds. 

When we bought the seed packets, we went a little crazy and bought 5 different kinds of seeds. Then we proceeded to plant them ALL. My big helper really enjoyed putting a handful of seeds in each hole that daddy dug…only a few inches apart from each other. Too many seeds = Too many vines.

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3. Don’t forget to turn the water OFF!

One evening we were all checking out the patch together, and my husband turned on the faucet to water the pumpkins. Then we all went inside for dinner. At the end of dinner, my husband said, “Did you turn off the water?” (Hmmmmm…I’ve been inside fixing dinner, getting plates ready, feeding the baby and myself at the same time.) The answer to that question was clearly, “NO!” Oopsies! We had a little pumpkin patch flood.

4. Don’t let ALL of the vines grow.

At the point when the patch was green, full and healthy, we should have selected some vines to pull out. This would have given the remaining vines more room to grow. Since we planted too many seeds – too close together, this would have been the smart thing to do. Hindsight!

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5. Don’t leave your pumpkins alone for a week.

If you take a week long vacation during the summer, make sure to ask a neighbor to stop by and water for you. We left a very full, but green patch and came home to a brown half-dead patch. Just like kids, plants need a babysitter!

Our first attempt at growing pumpkins was not so pretty. However, our 3-year-old must have been completely inspired by the pumpkin patch!

When I asked him, “What do you want to be for Halloween?”

He said, “A pumpkin!!!”

Then I asked, “What should your brother be?’

He said, “A pumpkin too!!!”

Next I said, “What should Mommy be?”

He said, “A pumpkin too!!!”

Then, “What should Daddy be?”

He said, “A ghost!”

I’m not real sure why Daddy doesn’t get to be a cute pumpkin too, but the kid came up with that all on his own, and I couldn’t be more pleased that I get one more year of cutesy costumes before the superheroes start!

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I loved seeing the pure joy on his little face when Daddy handed him the first mini pumpkin from our patch. That smile made this whole thing worth it!  He has been hauling it around in a dump truck and even wanted to take it to bed (mean mommy said, “no” to that though.)

My dream of a porch full of homegrown pumpkins did not come true this year. So we’ll be heading to the real pumpkin patch soon!

Anyone else have a garden failure?  Do tell!  I’d love to know I’m not the only one! (Please share in the comments!)

Shari is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband Mark, 2 boys and a pug named Yoda. Her toddler and preschool age boys keep her very busy. She loves warm Iowa days for playing outside with her family. In her "spare time" Shari enjoys quiet activities like crafting, browsing Pinterest, learning photography, creating family photo books and watching favorite shows with her husband. She also loves Iowa City Moms Blog and her MOPS group for the connections with other mommies!

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