Milk Fed Pumpkin

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Ripening

Sounds like a Stephen King novel.

But in fact, just wanted to update you all on the pumpkin progress, with photos.

First, the very sad state of "Non":

Ah, that too too mortal flesh....

And then, to give you cheer (all photos from 24 September 2006):

Now, we just have to hope they make it to Halloween....(the pumpkins, I mean, not the sisters)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The "Death" of "Non"

Sad news for milk-fed pumpkin fans: last week, when we went to measure, we discovered that "Non" had rolled off the cardboard box it was propped on to keep it from getting moldy on the bottom, and, smashed by its own (as yet unmeasured) weight, developed a very nasty area of white mold and slime on its underside. Needless to say, "Non" is not growing anymore, and we have one less jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

But that's okay, because we really only need two. And the experiment seems to have found its natural end: the growth of "A" and "L" has also leveled off, as a quick look at the charts reveals:

Given that by far "Non" had the fastest rate of growth up until its untimely demise, I think we can say pretty conclusively that milk-feeding (sugar-water feeding, for you sticklers) a pumpkin through a slit in the vine doesn't help, and might even hurt. In fact, we saw no evidence that any of the liquid in the containers made its way out of the containers and into the pumpkin--even the "real" candlewicks stayed bone dry, and the containers are as full as they ever were.

My theory? Almanzo had a very happy cat that year, who found a nice bowl of milk out at the pumpkin patch every morning.

So far, "A" and "L" remain undamaged, and have even begun to turn orange. No pictures yet, for the usual reason (yes, we'll be getting a digital camera soon!!).

At some point in November, I hope to be posting photos of pie...

(Scroll down through the earlier posts to see pictures of the pumpkins at earlier stages of the experiment).

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Data Set #2

September 9, 2006

First, some non-scientific journaling. I seemed to have scored some brownie points with Big Sister's second grade teacher when I mentioned, in conference, that Big Sis had wanted to grow a milk-fed pumpkin after reading about it in a book. "Now there's a terrific text-to-self connection," Ms. B commented. Too bad Big Sister stubbornly refuses to do same in daily homework...

And when we went to measure the pumpkins today, Little Sister was delighted to find that her name had magically appeared in the pumpkin's skin, along with a heart.

Today's numbers:

"A" is now at 25" L/ 50" D
"L" is now at 18" L/ 37" D
Non is now at 24" L/ 48" D

Pumpkin "A" on 9/9/2006 (note sour cream container & wick):

Pumpkin "L" on 9/9/2006:

Other observations: there are "splits" in the bottoms of both "L" and "Non", perhaps a sign that both are growing TOO quickly? I'm beginning to fear that we may not have jack o' lanterns this year.

Here are charts of the growth to date:

We notice this week that the "wicks" seem to be dry; in addition, contrary to what Farmer Boy claimed, the pumpkin is not sucking up a bowl of milk (sugar water) per day. In fact, the containers are as full as they were last week. Manley didn't have plastic sour cream containers with tight-fitting lids; I'm beginning to suspect that his milk evaporated.

Or: our method is wrong (we have, after all, introduced a number of new variables into the original schema).

Why is the non milk-fed pumpkin growing faster than the milk fed ones?

Hypothesis 1: it's on a healthier vine. (who can tell? they're all tangled up!)

Hypothesis 2: cutting slits into the vine causes stress to the developing fruit.

Hypothesis 3: "A" was already so big when we started that it wasn't going to get much bigger anyway. "L" seems to be speeding up its rate of growth, might have grown faster/bigger if it didn't have a slit in its vine.

Hypothesis 4: the wicks aren't working.

I suspect that some of my readers may wish to add or amend hypotheses--I invite input.

I choose to test the final hypothesis--went out today and bought some real candle wicks at a hobby shop. I realize that some of my more scientifically minded readers (my research physicist brother, in particular) will object to changing a parameter in mid-experiment--but we want a milk-fed (okay, sugar fed!) pumpkin, dammit!

Stay tuned to next week.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

First Data

September 2, 2006

Milk-Fed Pumpkin "A": 22" L/ 47" D
Milk-Fed Pumpkin "L": 13" L/ 27" D
Non-Milk-Fed-Pumpkin: 18" L/ 38" D

In one week, "A" has grown 3" in Length and 11" in Diameter.
"L" has grown 4" in Length and 10" in Diameter.
Non has grown 7" in Length and 16" in Diameter.

It is starting to look like milk-fed pumpkins are more "myth" than "fact" indeed.

Big Sister is in despair at the thought that another pumpkin is growing faster than hers, but clinging to the "fact" that hers is still biggest.

We will seek explanations for this phenomenon if it continues another week.