'Quaker Pie' is an heirloom variety pumpkin introduced in the late 1800's. The fruits are 8 inches across and weigh 10 to 12 pounds, making them quite dense. The skin is creamy white, not the typical orange, which might be what has led this variety to never rise in popularity. Flesh has a tinge of coconut flavor. The vines of this plant are 15-18 feet long, but the leaves are small, making it not impossible for small gardens. The blossoms can be up to 8" long. Small pumpkins are grown for cooking and eating, while the larger sizes are for Jack-o'-lanterns and exhibition. Most Cooperative extension services will be able to tell you which varieties are best for your area. Pumpkins are tender annuals with vines that reach up to 20 feet. Male and female flowers can reach up to 8 inches long and often grow on the same vine. Pumpkins require a long growing season, so cooler areas will do better with smaller varieties.
Plant seed 2 or 3 weeks after the last average frost date. They will tolerate partial sun and require high organic matter and well drained soil. Go easy on the fertilizer as you will end up with all vine. Plant 6 to 8 seeds in each inverted hill.
They are usually ready for harvest 95 to 120 days after planting. Pumpkins can stay on the vine for a long time, but harvest them before the first hard frost as they will get mushy. Pumpkins require too much space to be grown in containers.
Important Info : The first pumpkin pies were made by pouring milk into a pumpkin which was then baked. Pumpkins enjoy sun, space, good soil and little wind.
Full Sun is defined as exposure to more than 6 hours of continuous, direct sun per day.
Conditions : Normal Watering for Outdoor Plants
Normal watering means that soil should be kept evenly moist and watered regularly, as conditions require. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
How-to : Preparing Garden Beds
Use a soil testing kit to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil before beginning any garden bed preparation. This will help you determine which plants are best suited for your site. Check soil drainage and correct drainage where standing water remains. Clear weeds and debris from planting areas and continue to remove weeds as soon as they come up.
A week to 10 days before planting, add 2 to 4 inches of aged manure or compost and work into the planting site to improve fertility and increase water retention and drainage. If soil composition is weak, a layer of topsoil should be considered as well. No matter if your soil is sand or clay, it can be improved by adding the same thing: organic matter. The more, the better; work deep into the soil. Prepare beds to an 18 inch deep for perennials. This will seem like a tremendous amount of work now, but will greatly pay off later. Besides, this is not something that is easily done later, once plants have been established.
Pest : Cucumber Beetle
Cucumber Beetles have a greenish-yellow cast to their hard wing covers, which have a dozen black spots. The western spotted cucumber beetle is orangish with 3 rows of black spots. The most destructive of the cucumber beetles is the western striped cucumber beetle - it has greenish yellow stripes. The larvae of these beetles have legs, are white and slender and about 1/4 - 1/2 of an inch long and have brown heads with brown patches on the first and last segments.
Adult beetles chew holes in leaves and flowers and are notorious disease spreaders of such things as mosaic virus and bacterial wilt. This is transmitted through their mouth parts.
Prevention and Control: If you can find resistant varieties, plant them. Floating row covers help to keep out adults, but should be removed at the onset of flowers. Birds, tachinid flies, and handpicking are the safest control. Insecticides can be used; make sure the product you are using is labelled for cucumber beetle control. Follow all label procedures to a tee.
Glossary : Viruses
Viruses, which are smaller than bacteria, are not living and do not replicate on their own. They must rely on the cellular mechanisms of their hosts to replicate. Because this greatly disrupts the cell's functionality, outward signs of a viral infection result in a plant disease with symptoms such as abnormal or stunted growth, damaged fruit, discolorations or spots.
Prevention and Control: Keep virus carriers such as aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips under control. These plant feeding insects spread viruses. Viruses can also be introduced by infected pollen or through plant openings (as when pruning). Begin by keeping the pathogen out of your garden. New plants should be checked, as well as tools and existing plants. Use only certified seed that is deemed disease-free. Plant only resistant varieties and create a discouraging environment by rotating crops, not planting closely related plants in the same area every year.