I am nervous. My baby pumpkin already has a slightly discolored yellow area on one side. In addition, several female flowers have started to grow and then turned yellow and died before blooming. So, I'm soliciting any and all pumpkin-growing advice you all can give me. I'm especially interested in those of you who have successfully grown pumpkins, or other winter squash, in Southern California.
Here's what I'm doing in an attempt to give my pumpkin patch the best possible chance:
- Watering deeply every 2-3 days. It's very dry and hot here this time of year, so things tend to get dried out and scorched very quickly.
- Side-dressing with compost and organic fertilizer high in both nitrogen and phosphorous.
- Hand pollinating any female flowers that bloom.
- Obsessively looking for female flowers on every vine and then carefully tracking their progress.
I have read on gardening message boards that trimming off some of the male flowers before they bloom can help promote female flower production. Have any of you found that to be true? Any other tips for tricking my vines into making more female blossoms?
Also, for you Southern California gardeners, am I just being impatient? It seems possible that my vines won't really start fruiting until mid-September. The one pumpkin I do have is growing fairly quickly, and I think it might mature in 3 or 4 weeks. So, could it actually be a good thing if my pumpkins don't start growing until late September? (The variety I'm growing is a Sugar Pie Pumpkin, which is on the small side, 6 to 7 inches in diameter.)
Help me, gardening friends. Many adorable baby-in-pumpkin-patch photo opportunities are at stake!