Thursday, October 29, 2015

Grow Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins Without Watering After Planting

Carving a pumpkin with children in your family before Halloween every year is great fun.  Perhaps more fun, though, is growing that pumpkin with your children or grandchildren.  In this post we will describe how we use a seemingly simple yet little know tool to grow Howden (Jack-O-Lantern sized) pumpkins with watering only right after germination and at planting.

The Howden Pumpkin in the peat pot right before transplanting May 9, 2015

Recommendations very, but if you live in an area with shorter summers (like Central Indiana where we are based), you may want to start your pumpkin inside in a peat pot.  This allows you to transplant with the minimum amount of trauma to the roots.  If planting with children, make sure to have them put the seeds in the soil (push the seeds down ~1/4 inch) and apply the first water.  You can be the one to water the peat pot until the pumpkin is ready to transplant.

Howden Pumpkin after transplanting June 6 2015
We do suggest that you plant your pumpkin into a mound.  We found an area of grass in our yard we didn't like mowing, covered it with weed cloth (which blocks weeds but allows water through), and cut out a circular spot about 25 inches in diameter.  Here we made a mound (to ensure water drainage) of Miracle-Gro potting soil.  We then transplanted the pumpkin into the center of this mound.


Our seemingly simple tool that will make the planting and harvesting of the pumpkins fun rather than hot and frustrating is the Groasis Waterboxx, shown in a cut away view above.  This device was developed in Holland to grow trees in the desert, but it works very well for vine plants which with higher water requirements in areas with moderate rainfall.   It collects water from dew and rain, and stores it in a reservoir.  It then releases the water through a wick to the soil beneath, depending on the moisture of the soil and the needs of the plant. We placed the Waterboxx around our transplanted pumpkin in mid May.  We then filled the Waterboxx with water (about 4 gallons), and began to tend to the rest of our yard.  We do not think we will need to give the pumpkins any water between the Waterboxx set up and harvesting.  

Howden Pumpkin growing the the Waterboxx on June 6, 2015.  We filled the Waterboxx with 15 liters (~4 gallons) of water at set up, but haven't had to refill it yet.
Howden Pumpkin on June 18, 2015.  This has now gotten so big as to be difficult to photograph in one image.  We still haven't added any water manually to the pumpkin or the Waterboxx.   
We had actually forgotten about our Howden Pumpkin in the process of tending to the rest of our garden, but the Waterboxx remains filled with water despite our neglect.  We have seen our orange squash bees pollinating our other cucurbits so we hope to see little pumpkins growing on our Waterboxx planted pumpkin soon.  We will continue to update this post with pictures of the growing pumpkin (as well as our Jack-O-Lanterns when we carve them).  We are growing several other plants with the Waterboxx, a complete list is available here.

An excellent sized pumpkin grown without watering with the Waterboxx


We did add 4 small Jobe's organic fertilizer spikes to the soil around the Waterboxx sheltering the plant on July 1.

You can buy the Groasis Waterboxx here.

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