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New to pumpkins... help me out!

 
pollinator
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Hi folks,

I’m growing pumpkins for the first time. I’m not sure why we haven’t before, but so far I am impressed with them. They are growing incredibly vigorously, and have loads and loads of flowers forming. Some have opened, but I can’t see any fruit set so far.

The variety is “Queensland Blue” which I haven’t tried myself, but my father (who smuggled the seeds from Australia!) tells me they were a favourite of his.

I have noticed that my most vigorous plant is branching, and each branch is growing a few inches per day. They are going to be huge is allowed to grow unchecked.

1) should I reduce the number of branches, to a main single stem?
2) should the stems be trimmed to encourage fruit growth, once they have set some?
3) should I thin the fruit at some stage? From the number of flowers they could try to set dozens per plant
4) they have tendrils, like a climber. Similar to my cucumbers in the green house. Would training them up a frame and out of the way be desirable? Would fruit need extra support?
9B40EB77-CF19-4153-914C-D18FDE6C753E.jpeg
The most vigorous plant - spirals twice already
The most vigorous plant - spirals twice already
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Multiple branches from the same plant
Multiple branches from the same plant
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I could 4 established side branches so far
I could 4 established side branches so far
 
gardener
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I've read that if you're looking for lots of squash or pumpkins pinching the vines to encourage them to branch is good, so I would keep them the way they are unless you're trying to grow The Biggest Pumpkin In The World.

From prior experience with squash, I would only really think about it once you see the female flowers start to actually set fruit and keep it after a few days (sometimes the early fertilized female flowers fall off for a variety of reasons). In my garden the male flowers appear first, and sometimes many many of them, before the female ones do... but they DO eventually show up, so don't worry.

As for growing up things- some people do trellis pumpkins, and use things like old pantyhose to support the fruit. If you start running out of space, that might be a good option.
 
Michael Cox
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Thanks for your input. After some further research I decided to build a frame to grow them up.

Also, saw the results of my earlier experiment. I pegged and buried a couple of bits of stems to see if they would root. The answer is emphatically yes, they root well. In just under two weeks each spot had sent strong roots straight down into the soil at each root node. Very cool. The strongest plant now has lots of extra roots. I suspect this is partly why it is so far ahead of the others.
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Frame and helper
Frame and helper
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Strong roots growing from each buried leaf node
Strong roots growing from each buried leaf node
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Started tying a few of the stems in. They should be able to hold themselves with tendrils once established.
Started tying a few of the stems in. They should be able to hold themselves with tendrils once established.
 
Tereza Okava
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Your garden looks beautiful!! Here in wet antipode winter it is a sight for sore eyes.
 
pollinator
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As to pinching fruit/branches, yes you will probably need to in the British climate, no fruit that is set past the end of July/mid August has any chance of turning into a ripe pumpkin in a normal year, especially since the type you have there will not be well suited to the climate. (it looks similar to a crown prince that does do well) My crown prince will happily crawl 4-5 meters in all directions and when I grew Atlantic Giant the vines were over 10m away across the field! I find that I can get 2-3 fruit per plant of a decent size if I leave more then the size shrinks down to 1-2kg which of course can be nice, but they don't store as long.
 
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Yes, nice looking garden Michael!
 
steward
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I haven't been able to figure out which squash climb and which don't.  I've had volunteer pumpkins that climbed very well.  Butternut squash don't seem to like to climb.  Acorn squash are maybe in the middle.  Just because they have tendrils doesn't mean they want to climb.  I think my butternuts just have the tendrils to hold onto other plants to anchor them better to the ground.  Maybe...
 
Michael Cox
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Spotted the very first female flowers on these pumpkins today, much to my relief. It has been covered in male flowers for weeks.

Training up the cage is going well - a mix of strings and using their own tendrils.
84159247-F310-49CE-9D04-3ED7B8505C46.jpeg
First female pumpkin flowers
First female pumpkin flowers
 
Mike Haasl
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I'm running an experiment this year.  Two rows of butternut squash, one on the ground and the other forced to climb a trellis.  I know they like to root at their nodes so the trellising one shouldn't do as good as the sprawling one.  But we'll see.....
 
pollinator
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Oops, I didn't know butternut didn't prefer a trellis.  Mine have no place else to go!

Wish me luck.
 
Anne Pratt
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Michael, I agree.  Gorgeous garden, and adorable helper(s)!

Best of luck with the pumpkins!
 
Mike Haasl
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It could just be that mine don't like to climb.  I feed them through the trellis openings and they just head horizontally or downward at the first chance.  
 
Anne Pratt
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Only one of mine is long enough to feed through the trellis, which I did today.  I suppose they can just go right through and trail along the wood chip path between the beds.  If they go the other direction, they'll run right into cherry tomatoes and basil!

Uh-oh.
 
Michael Cox
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I put some pictures of these pumpkins on Facebook today. My 91 year old granny informed me that my grandfather used to hand pollinate his pumpkins because of the exact same shortage of female flowers that I have seen!

He was a Professor of Botany.
 
Michael Cox
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I now have half a dozen female flowers forming, and the first one opened today. I won’t save seeds from it though, because the flower petals were damaged and bees got in. I wasn’t able to hand pollinate. I have my eye on a few others for hand pollinating though.

The first stem has topped my 8ft frame now as a well, and shows no sign of slowing down. At what point should I consider snipping the growing tips off?
 
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