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Feature Growers

Joe Pukos of Leicester, N.Y. , our latest feature grower earned this honor for the painful experience he went through last year. Like you and I, Joe loves his pumpkins. He grows giant pumpkins, and Jack O'Lanterns.

Just as his pumpkin patch was vining out and showing great promise last year, a major thunderstorm struck his area. Along with high winds and lightening, came the gardener's most dreaded summer nightmare........hail! At the end of the storm, Joe's pumpkin patch was a shredded mess. The storm devastated all four of his giant pumpkins. Too late to replant this season, Joe considered turning the garden under and buying pumpkins in the fall....Heaven forbid!

Joe Pukos had a great an promising crop before the hailstorm hit. This picture was taken June 29th a few days before the storm.

Note: Here is a tip for really avid growers. Study Joe's watering system. The concentric rings are his drip irrigation lines. Note the homemade water tower. Now here's a serious grower.

The hail storm that hit Joe's area was among the worst in memory for local residents.

It literally shredded the leaves on his entire crop. This picture is enough to bring tears to the eyes of any pumpkin lover.

End of story?....Nope! Pumpkin Nook and a couple of other growers offered Joe encouragement and advice. As a result of this, Joe spent hour cutting and trimming away all of the dead and shredded leaves. High nitrogen fertilizer was added to promote leaf growth. He also applied fungicide as disease was a major risk.

Just one week after the storm, new growth appeared and the plants began to recover. Isn't Mother Nature remarkable?

But, would the recovery result in pumpkins come October? Joe still did not know

The plants continued to recover. Two weeks after the storm hit, the plants were very healthy.

One side affect was a lot of weeds as a result of extra light to the soil area and high nitrogen application. In hindsight, Joe says laying down black plastic would have been useful or heavy mulching.

Joe did experience problems with fruit set, but in the end had a few sizable pumpkins. Joe brought a pumpkin to his local weighoff in Clarence, N.Y. which weighed in at 454 pounds.

All of Joe's other crops recovered as well. Fruit crops, apples in particular, were most affected with scarring being a problem.

We consider this a great story as damaging hail can hit anytime, anywhere. And if it does, in many if not most cases it may not spell the end of your season.We praise Joe for his efforts and his perseverance in a situation where many would have given up.

Prior Feature Growers:

Paul McIntyre from Oxford Mills, Ontario, Canada.

Bill Susa from Frederick, Maryland

Do you want to be one of the next feature growers? If so, please write to this site with some specifics about your pumpkin growing adventures and send along some pictures. It's as simple as that. Please note we reserve the right to use any pictures and information you submit in other pages and articles published by Pumpkin Nook .


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