Q: I want to grow Halloween pumpkins this next year. I had no problems in California but here even powdery mildew resistant varieties in good soil don’t make it.
A: Pumpkins are difficult to grow in a backyard garden. Bill Durden, owner of Berry Patch Farm in Woodstock says “If powdery mildew doesn’t get them, then downy mildew will…and anything left gets ruined by pickleworms.” As you’ve found, powdery mildew causes leaves to melt away. With no leaves, pumpkins shrivel. University of Georgia pumpkin expert Terry Kelley recommends ‘Magic Lantern’, ‘Funny Face’ and ‘Wizard’ for Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins and ‘Jack B. Little’, ‘Munchkin’ and ‘Sweetie Pie’ for miniatures. Plant seed on July 1 and begin spraying fungicide for mildew control at the first sign of silvery “dust” on the leaves.