I am ashamed to admit it. I have been avoiding writing about big pumpkin. Over a week ago I noticed some tell tale signs that the squash vine borer that I had been fretting about had attacked my big giant friend in the back yard. A squash vine borer is a red and black moth that lays very tiny red-brown eggs on squash/pumpkin plants. The egg hatches and the grub borrows into the vine of your plant where it proceeds to eat it's way to maturity at which point it crawls back out and drops into the soil to wait until next spring. There is very little that you can do about this moth.
Some farmers take to painting the stems of their plants with chemicals, reapplying after every rain. Once the grub is inside the plant that no longer works, so your timing has to be flawless. Once inside the only thing left to do is split the vine and remove the grub by hand. This apparently can be done with some degree of success on a regular size plant. As I walked out to deal with big pumpkin . . . well, I approached the job with not a little trepidation.
Steak knife in hand, I sliced into the spots on big pumpkin's stem that were clearly being damaged and one by one I pulled out grubs that I sliced in half with no mercy. I have no idea how long I was out there slicing into big pumpkin but by the time I was done I was heartsick. How could it survive? I sliced back the leaves that were covering the wounds so that the sun could cure them and gathered my young son for a picture, it very well could have been the last one.
Amazingly, big pumpkin is hanging in there. That wasn't the end of my worry however. I had been having major problems with the female blossoms. Four blossoms had appeared and four had rotted and fallen off before they even turned into a flower. Yes even that very first one that I was so excited about.
So I worried that something was going terribly wrong and that big pumpkin, as impressive and massive as he is, would not produce a pumpkin for me. So I watched and waited as big pumpkin flagged for a few days after the surgery. Another female blossom that I carefully tried to protect from bugs and possibly cutworms, died and fell off. But in the past week or so he has really started thriving. He is so happy that he has tried attacking a nearby evergreen tree until I came along and broke things up.
Three days ago, my friend Kris came over and I shared my concern and the fact that I couldn't even bring myself to post about it when we found a new female blossom forming. A bigger one. Robust, even. This morning on my way through the garden gathering my daily supply of office snacks I spotted that female flower. And she's been busy. I've never had once develop this far or be this big. This may be the one, people. This may be the one!