Move Over Peter Pumpkin Eater

…because Petersik Pumpkin Farmer is the new guy in town. Well, Accidental Pumpkin Farmer I should say. Yep folks, I grew a pumpkin without even trying. Personally, I’m kinda amused by the whole thing. Sherry’s a bit less enthusiastic about our surprise fruit. Here’s how it happened:

See those pumpkins we painted last year? When they were past their prime I – without really thinking – tossed ’em in one of our DIY compost bins. Apparently, if you’re trying to grow pumpkins, nutrient rich compost is a great place to “plant” a fruit filled with seeds. But if you’re trying to maintain a compost bin, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I didn’t realize I was on the path to pumpkin growing until this past spring when I used some of said compost to help out our edible garden… and some mystery sprouts popped up next to each of my plantings. After plucking the “weeds” a few times we successfully eradicated what we didn’t realize at the time were pumpkins trying to grown next to our basil and bell peppers.

Then one day I noticed a bigger version of that “weed” poking out of the compost bin. That’s when I put two and two together and realized what I had done. Sherry was a tad annoyed that our compost had been compromised, but I was honestly too excited by the idea that I had started growing a pumpkin to even care. So she agreed to let me follow my crazy accidental pumpkin dreams and see what would happen (especially because we had a second compost bin that we were still able to use without pumpkin interference).

What we got was a crazy vine. I sadly don’t have any pictures of it because I honestly never thought it would work, but you can see a smidge of its wide leaves poking out behind me in my glass bottle video. Those, my friends, are pumpkin leaves.

I actually thought it was a cool plant. It wrapped itself around our fence, grew big leaves and even sported a few blossoms that would open during the day (like the one pictured below from someone else’s garden). All of this made me very excited to see what magnificent pumpkin(s) would be growing come fall.

But then it died. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t give it any special care all summer, but upon returning from our Ithaca trip all we had was a shriveled brown ghost of what it had once been. Sadness.

The story still has a happy ending. As I pulled the dead vine from the fence the other day I discovered this:

I know I won’t be winning awards at the state fair or anything, but I have to say I’m still quite proud that my accident trip into pumpkin farming produced at least one (teeny tiny) cool white pumpkin. And it’s not even oddly shaped or covered with warts, it’s a pretty cute little guy if I do say so myself. Perhaps I’ll plant this one somewhere intentionally so its legacy can still live on! After Sherry has some decorating fun with it of course…

Do any of you intentionally grow pumpkins or have any tips for me if I decide to give it another go? I’m inclined to think it’s pretty easy to do if I made it this far without trying.


  1. Lisa in Seattle says

    That is an adorable little gourd, just the right size for Miss Clara!

    Anecdote: A co-worker planted pumpkins and they took over his entire backyard and colonized the neighbor’s yard, so I don’t know if you really want to do this – unless you plan to open a roadside produce stand!

  2. says

    congrats! i can’t grow pumpkins in my yard, but my mom grows them. from what i can tell, they take a LOT of water! it’s a pretty decent pumpkin for no particular care. here are the ones my mom grew this year: (next to the dogs, of course. for perspective, that’s a full-grown male old english, who weighs about 100 lbs!)

  3. danyelle says

    We are growing pumpkins for the first time this year. A fun trick we are waiting to try out is waiting till the pumpkin is 4″ round, you can personalize it by scratching your name or face about 1/8″ deep into the surface with a nail. The skin will callous over and as the pumpkin grows the design will grow. Wish us luck!

  4. says

    It sounds like you hit the nail on the head with the compost, so I’d definitely try being liberal with the compost if you try again. But then, I’ve never successful grown anything from seeds before (unless you count weeds that sprout up from fallen birdseed).

  5. Jess! says

    The same thing happened to us in our compost bin…pumpkins require INSANE amounts of water to grow, so that’s likely why yours died.

    Our pumpkin patch was of the orange pumpkin type, and took up a gigantic area in our yard (probably 20 feet by 20 feet by the time it stopped growing), and my little brother sold the pumpkins to the neighborhood kids for Hallowe’en.

  6. Lindsay says

    That is so funny! This is one of my composting nightmares. I’m always asking myself before if the item I’m throwing in the compost will end up producing an unwelcomed veggie/fruit!

    Enjoy your cute little white pumpkin! It looks like the Petersiks grew two cute little things this year!

  7. amc says

    The exact same thing happened to me. About a year ago, I used your tutorial to make my own compost bins. (Everything is working splendidly, so thank you for helping to make that happen.) A few weeks after planting my tomato plants in a mix of soil and compost, I noticed a vine working it’s way up the deck posts. Turns out that canteloupe grows just as easily in compost as pumpkins do. I haven’t picked them yet, but I have two melons growing! What a delightful surprise.

    • says

      Hey Snickersnack Katie,

      Since we use our compost as natural fertilizer when we plant things around the house it meant we could no longer use that batch of compost without getting a few pumpkin vines popping up like weeds. Mad is probably an exaggeration, but Sherry was a bit bummed at the prospect of pumpkin vines sprouting up all over the place.


  8. says

    We had a bumper crop of tomatoes from throwing our “past their prime” fruits and veggies off the deck. The kids and I had lots of fun throwing contests! Without even realizing what we were doing we grew an amazing tomato garden.

    Next year I plan to build a couple of raised beds now that we know we have great soil for a garden!

    (I got nothing with the pumpkins)

  9. Holly H says

    Powdery mildew perhaps?
    I intentionally grew a few different squash/pumpkin plants this year with quite a bit of success, but most plants sadly succumbed to this fate because of a very very wet August… and me being absent for a week and a half. There is stuff you can spray on the leaves (ie. diluted milk solution) to nip it in the but if you catch it early. Starts off as what appears as a “powdery mildew” which spreads to all the other leaves, and then they inevitably go brown and shrivel up.
    This too was my first year though, so i’m not sure what other possibilities may have taken your precious pumpkin plant.

  10. Lorrie says

    This same accidental thing happended to us one time, but with watermelons.

    Who knew that fertile soil + tons of watermelon seeds (spit by kids at a pool party) + pool water would eventually = Baby Watermelon!

  11. Fuzz says

    Oddly enough, I have about ten pumpkins growing in my patio garden (I live in an apartment) right now! I don’t know how the seeds got there, I can only think it had something to do with my son “pretending” to be a gardener and trying to plant his seeds from his pumpkin last year.

    I’m not doing anything special, just trying to see what comes out of it.

  12. says

    I love this story! I think the same thing was happening to me — I composted our pumpkin last fall and when I spread the compost on our veggie garden this spring I kept getting strange sprouts. Sadly, I pulled them all out assuming they were weeds, so I’ll never know if I could have had a pumpkin. But next year I’ll know better.