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N1959 Kroncke Road
Poynette, WI 53955

Take Hwy 51 North from Madison, go straight onto Hwy 22, turn east (right) onto Hwy 60 almost immediately. Drive 2 miles and go North (left) onto Kroncke Road. We're just over a mile on the left-hand side.

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(608) 635-4780

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Monday, June 8, 2009

An Experiment with Pumpkins

Last year we bought a mulch layer to put down black plastic mulch. It was our goal to eliminate as many herbicides as possible and still keep hand hoeing to a minimum. Last year we used it for squash, gourds and many of the miscellaneous vegetables we grow like tomatoes, peppers and brussell sprouts. Each row had its own line for drip irrigation, since the rain couldn't penetrate the plastic.

This year, we were dreaming about the benefits of the plastic in a field high up on the hill where water is not easily accessible. I suggested we try laying the plastic in rows close together and plant between them. That way the water would run off the plastic and onto the plants between rows. It sounded like a good idea and I have pumpkin plants popping through in the greenhouse, so Friday afternoon we thought we'd take a try at prepping the field.

We put the first row down, then tried to decide how close we could put the next one without pulling the first row of plastic back up. It took a little playing, but I think it turned out pretty well.

This is how the prepped field looks. That really wide space in the center is so we can still drive through after the vines are full size. It gets to be a really long way to haul pumpkins to the edge otherwise.

We'll be putting the plants in later this week. After some discussion, we decided that we'll plant in every row, but at twice the usual spacing between plants.

You may be wondering why we're starting pumpkins in the greenhouse instead of just putting seeds in the ground. We thought that setting plants would give them a faster start before the weeds have a chance to get going. We first tried it last year and were pleased with the results. With this layout, the vines should fill the open areas fairly fast and the plastic will keep the weeds down on the rest of it until the vines grow to full size. The plastic mulch is photo degradable, so by fall it will be quite brittle and tear as we walk on it and harvest the pumpkins (also gourds and some extra squash, I think). But by then it will have done its job.

It all sounds like a good plan, but it is an experiment, so we'll see what we think by fall.


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