…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.
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!
Emily @ The Happy Home 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: http://tinyurl.com/3yq4ts3 (next to the dogs, of course. for perspective, that’s a full-grown male old english, who weighs about 100 lbs!)
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!
Cait @ Hernando House 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).
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.
I love how even your pumpkin fits your home’s lovely color scheme! Talk about meant to be!
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!
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.
Snickrsnack Katie says
What I don’t get… why was Sherry mad? How can you compromise compost?
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.
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)
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.
Kim Smith says
That is so cool! Great growing “Farmer John” :D
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!
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.
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.
congrats on the pumpkin surprise!
They look cute
That pumpkin is the perfect size for Clara!
That is so funny! My mother-in-law had some melons that she put in her compost and the seeds in the melons began to grow (without her knowing). She then moved some of the compost into her garden and those melons eventually took over her squash & tomatoes & herbs! So no veggies for them this year – just a lot of melon jam!
Thanks for the chuckle. Great post!
Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie says
The same thing happened to our garden…we were pretty sure the vine that grew was a zucchini, but now seeing your pictures, it could’ve been a pumpkin – who knows?! Your little baby pumpkin is super cute though!
cutest pumpkin that ever was. for real.
We just decided to try our hand at pumpkin farming this year too! We planted just 3 little mounds of seeds and had no idea that those 3 little piles would have so much fun spreading across our entire back yard! They actually took over our rhododendron, a few hostas, and our tomato patch! I haven’t actually done much research so don’t really know anything but what I’ve observed in my backyard. The leafy part of the plant does whither away right about now, so that’s normal (at least that’s what is happening in my garden). But it should reveal some nice little pumpkins nestled in the ground. Sometimes the flowers don’t pollinate, for whatever reason, which I guess is what happened with yours. So far we only have about 6 pumpkins, but I can see a few more starting to form. Pretty exciting! Good luck next year!
That’s pretty cool!
Tiffany S. says
Awwww, it’s so cute!
We had a pumpkin vine that grew from the garage bed, around our front lawn and started creepy toward the front door. It was on a mission, and was actually a bit scary. It didn’t grow any pumpkins though, all vine. Apparently, there’s a way to pinch off the vine to get it to put its energy into pumpkin making.
We do have a on-purpose pumpkin growing in the veg bed right now. It’s been faring well but just know that the PNW had a TERRIBLE year for tomatoes.
Same thing happen to us once when I was a kid. We grew cantaloupes by mistake because of the seeds in the compost. They were all over the tomato garden!
I wish there was a sneaky pumpkin plant in my yard that surprised me with a pumpkin!
This is the cutest little pumpkin ever.
Carmen @ Life with Sprinkles on Top says
Sweet! My kids and I actually tried to “accidentally” grow pumpkins but throwing our old pumpkins in our garden bed last year but nothing happened. What a cute little accidental white pumpkin you ended up with.
My neighborhood hosts a giant pumpkin growing party/contest every year. The pumpkins get pretty big, up to 1000 pounds and they’re HUGE. The same guy always wins and he is very meticulous about his watering and feeding schedule. It’s mostly just a fun neighborhood get together!
We actually did the same thing y’all did!! My husband tossed our Halloween pumpkins on our compost pile last year, and this year in our raised flower beds, we got a pumpkin vine to grow. But, sadly, our tale is similar to yours- it died in the August heat. We didn’t even get a small pumpkin out of it. =( Oh well, now that I know it can be done, there’s always next year!
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite says
We grew watermelons in the garden one year. When one was big and juicy, I had my boyfriend lop it off at the vine. Only when he held it upright against his chest did I realize I had told him to cut a very large, but green pumpkin.
Cute pumpkin for such a ginormous vine :)
Rachael @ Mrs. Adventure says
How sweet Clara’s first Halloween and daddy grew her the cutest little pumkin :+)
Funny– the exact same thing happened to us one year. We planted the mysterious vine in our garden to see what it would be, and we ended up with a couple of surprise pumpkins!
I have a few tomato plants that started themselves this year from the compost but because our growing season is so short, I can’t depend on getting ripe fruit from tomatoes that start from seed. If you turn your compost more often it will heat up and kill the seeds in your pile preventing the accidental seedlings in the yard. I had a strange zucchini/pumpkin cross looking thing last year growing out of the side of the compost bin. I just let it grow and then threw the whole thing back in the bin to compost.
As far as pumpkins this year, the weather and a late start has resulted in only one 2 inch pumpkin.
This happened to us, but with tomatoes. We didn’t plant tomatoes this year, but saw a weird plant growing next to our a/c unit. Turns out it was a cherry tomato plant. I always thought they needed more care than that, but apparently not. It was a great surprise when we saw our first tomato
Rosi T says
My mom did the same thing except hers grew potatoes and pumpkins, she loves her compost pile! She throws everything she can in there, and it’s made her have less waste to throw in a dump. Her tomatoes came out really big this past season along with lots of strawberries that she couldn’t keep up with :).
Congratulations! Enjoy the tiny guy!
Aside from disease and water issues, another part of the explantation of your pumpkins’ demise and the small stature of your one fruit may be its volunteer source. Many fruits and veggies that we buy at the store (or even pumpkin patches)are GMO and not meant to be seed sources. This means that resulting plants will likely not self-polinate and if they manage to your fruit may be sub-par.
If you really want to do pumpkins from compost go to a local orchard and pick an heirloom pumpkin-one that’s not GMO-and you may have even better results!
Tashia D says
We grew our own pumpkins this year for the first time for our little boy. I dried the seeds from our pumpkins last fall and planted them in plastic cups this spring to get them started. Then I gave one to my parents to plant and grow too. Turns out their vine has produced eight pumpkins and ours only produced one! But ours is much bigger than any of theirs, so I guess we win the award for biggest pumpkin!
We grow Fairytale pumpkins every year in our garden and they are just lovely! Pumpkins take up a lot of space, so we limit it to only two vines. They are easy to grow, but require heavy watering. Best of luck!
My Boyfriends parents did this exact thing 3 years ago. The best part is the first year they got a small baby pumpkin like yours, the next year everything came back with more pumpkins more leaves and more flowers. This year they have had 9 pumpkins so far and more are still growing. The leaves have taken over the yard. My most FAVORITE thing about these isn’t the pumpkins, its the the flowers. You can pick them just as they show signs of wilting, flour and bread them like chicken cutlets and cook them. DELISH!! Enjoy your pumpkins!
My parents grow a vegetable garden in their backyard. To make sure the pumpkin doesn’t over grow you probably need to give it a fence of some sort to grow on. Every once in awhile, you will need to wind the “escaping” vines back to the fence. :)
Also, if you don’t want pumpkins, you can make a tasty Indian snack called pakora. Just substitute the flowers for the vegetables in the recipe. I love those more than the actual fruit! :)
Adrienne B says
Based on my attempts at pumpkins and squash this summer- you are lucky to get that. I don’t know what it was, but very little got pollinated. All I could figure was that with all the humidity we had this summer (I live in Maine, so that’s a big deal) the flowers drooped and the bees were not able to get into the flowers. Just a theory… Next year I am not taking any chances and going in there with a cotton ball to fertilize the plants myself.
I did the exact same thing this year. Our accidental pumpkin is growing in the front yard next to our hostas!
[email protected] Paradise says
When I started my garden one year, I spread out the compost. By the end of the season, to my surprise, I grew potatoes!
We use to grow pumpkins in my parents garden. They love sun and need room to grow.
We grew 6 different types of pumpkins for the first time this year. We still have 3 vines going, one a mystery, 2 pie pumpkins. We found that often we had to do the pollination our selves. Using a q-tip (or small clean paint brush) get the pollen from the male flower (pictured in your post) and brush it on the female flower (it looks quite different, you’ll know when you see it, plus it has a little baby pumpkin below the flower). We often found the the males and females didn’t open on the same day and our bees would use all the pollen from the male flowers and there would be none left by the time the female flower opened. I think we should plant 2 of the same types of pumpkins in the future so we have more hope that a male and female are open at the same time. They do take up a lot of space, but only for a couple of months, so it’s quite fun and entertaining to watch.
We did have a lot of mildew on our leaves, but didn’t treat them at all and everything was just fine.
The other big tip I’ve heard from many sources is to keep your pumpkins off the ground so they don’t rot. We put smaller ones on the plastic 6-pack some flowers came in, one on a yogurt container, the biggest was on a piece of wood. Just not on the soil is what I’ve heard.
Oooh, nice pumpkin. We grow lots of variety of squash/pumpkins and you tend to get a much better yield if you hand-pollinate. It makes quite a difference. Next time, look inside the flowers. The “boy” flowers have a distinctly boy-like appearance and ditto the “girl” flowers (which also have a very small pumpkin at the base of them even before they open). Pick the boy flower, yank off the petals to reveal the inner bits, open the girl flower manually & transfer the pollen over by…ummm…I’m sure you can get the picture. Then you’ll get lots more pumpkins. Have fun next summer!
And ditto on watering. Every other day in the heat of the summer is what we do.
I always wanted to try and grow a Mickey pumpkin like they do at EPCOT. Love the sign on this one…
Jennifer M says
I don’t know why yours died, but I purposely grew a plant this year to appease my kids…and also because I knew it was the one vegetable I could grow (or is it a fruit? I have no idea) that my dogs would not eat; they don’t know pumpkins are edible yet. I also tried tomatoes this year, but our dog ate every one as soon as they were the slightest bit red – no matter what I tried! Pumpkins do indeed seem pretty self-sufficient, though I had a HUGE plant and only 2 pumpkins (tons of beautiful flowers, though!).