Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pumpkin Progress

I tried my hand at growing pumpkins in my backyard this summer in hopes to harvest the fruit and use in a batch of home brewed pumpkin ale this fall. I'm worried, though, about the plant actually bearing fruit. We're half way through August, have been getting some beautiful flower action, but no fruit yet. After WebMD-ing the state of my pumpkins in various pumpkin grower forums, it seems from the similar experience of others, lots of flower blooms, no big orange fruit, the soil may have too much nitrogen! There goes my thoughts of letting the luscious plants decompose right in the same spot to fertilize the soil for next year's go around. Because compost creates a nice quantity of nitrogen, I believe. I have a lot to learn and research about micro, urban gardening. 

It also seems my pumpkins may be suffering from what's called "powdery mildew" as it looks like the leaves have been dusted with baking soda. I can expect the leaves to start dying soon. Next door, on the other side of the fence, our neighbors have a little circular pool. Not a kiddie, wading pool, but not a big, big pool. But it's a pool, and I assume some chlorine. I wonder if some pool splashes seeped through the wooden fence gaps and coated the leaves, making them susceptible to some fungus spreading. But, before I go blaming neighbors for my pumpkin's disease, I learned in the forums that I should not have been watering the leaves themselves. And all through the summer I'd give them good splashes from the hose, thinking I was cooling them down, since they were sitting out in the hot sun burning like fair skinned Irish kids. But their outdoor activities caught them a variable case of athlete's foot that no fungus cream can treat. 

If I don't get any fruit, I can rest knowing that my plants probably created a smidgen of oxygen for our fine atmosphere. I learned that the average plant leaf creates approximately 5 mL of oxygen for every hour it is photosynthesizing. I counted about 100 leaves on my pumpkin vines which have taken over a stretch of my backyard. And let's say they're in the sun for maybe 8 hours a day? 11-7 at its angle. A good eight hour workday. 100 x 5mL x 8 =  4000 mL, or 4 liters! If my calculations are correct, my pumpkins are creating about two 2 liter bottles of oxygen a day. 

Next time you breathe, you could be sucking in a bit of my pumpkin's progress.

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