Ranging in size from basketball to softball and spanning the color spectrum between deep-forest green and tangerine, I just counted 20 pumpkins growing in our backyard. It’s unclear if any of these calabasas will grow much bigger this year. All of our pumpkin plants have the same nasty squash-and-tomato-oriented blight that we’ve been fighting here since the first season after we brought in several huge truckloads of ‘topsoil’ to go on top of the cistern.
The loads looked and smelled alright, and after all, we were on a budget, so we had to go with a cheaper product. We knew we’d have to have patience as we built compost on site and worked it into our garden beds, but it’s been a significant struggle ever since. Just a few weeks ago, we thought that it was possible that we had the blight licked thanks to all of our double digging and homegrown compost. But, alas, our cucurbitaceae (squash-family plants) have yet again been hit extremely hard. Fortunately, our tomatoes, from the solanaceae family (nightshades), seem to be doing much better than in previous years.
According to a couple of sources, in a worse-case scenario the blight is a fungal problem called Fusarium Wilt. This means we may have to “solarize” the soil by cooking it under clear plastic during the summer months, keeping the wasted space in the garden out of commission for at least a couple of years. Ugh! Before going to that extreme, we decided to try the effective microorganisms (EM) that Tom and Richard sell at Santa Fe’s own Dirtwrights Technologies. Having sprayed almost regularly for the last four or five days, we are happy to report that the problem may have stabilized, and our soil might be on the mend. At this point, it’s too early to tell, but we’ll keep at it and report back as the summer progresses.