|Happily situated in the top bed where it gets sun all day|
If August was the month of pumpkins running all over the garden then September is the month of the chop-at least where pumpkin leaves and stems are concerned. By now the plants have set fruit, so any late fruitlets developing on the plants are not going to make a decent size for October but while they continue to grow they are actively taking food from their larger brothers and sisters on the same vine. If you want decent sized pumpkins that get to full maturity you have to chop off these extras now. Most pumpkin plants will support between 2-4 pumpkins to full size depending on the type; smaller pumpkins=more fruit, larger pumpkins=less. So if you have 2 -3 decent sized fruit on your pumpkin plant and it's got lots of tiny brothers and sisters they have to go!
|before-in the shade|
|after- in the sun|
Before and after pruning
The other reason for chopping off growth now is light. September is our last decent month for long hours of daylight, it's the month when a lot of crops really ripen well. Once we get into October the days are much shorter, and light levels can fall dramatically under grey skies.If your ripening Pumpkin is hiding under large leaves it's time to chop those leaves off, exposing the Pumpkin to the fullest amount of light and heat from the sun. The last push if you like before harvesting next month.By the way I don't chop off the leaves until now because I really think the large pumpkin leaves protect fruitlets from excess rain until the fruit is large enough, with a hardened up skin, to get through wet days without beginning to rot.
|pathway freed of pumpkins|
You might also be having trouble seeing exactly how many pumpkins are forming. This happens to me a lot. I go out to harvest in October and find a surprise under a leaf that I never spotted all summer! After chopping back vines and leaves yesterday I can see now exactly how many fruit I have and feed plants that might need help getting their pumpkins to the final size.
Do I still need to convince you?
A word of warning! one misplaced cut and it can all go horribly wrong! If you are following vines to cut back stems be so careful not to cut a vine with a ripening pumpkin attached. It has happened to me before and the swearing it brings on wouldn't get you forgiven without a trip to Lourdes and a donation to UNICEF.
|do I see one in there? (white stuff on the leaves is mildew)|