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something's eating through my pumpkin stalks? + leaf mildew quest

warmbreezes
10 years ago

This summer was our first try at growing mini-pumpkins in a large container on our deck (we live in the city without a backyard). Our 4 year old was SO excited!

Our pumpkin plants grew beautifully for the first part of the summer -- they have huge leaves and started putting out buds.

Then the sad part began. It looks like something is eating through each stalk just below the bud. Usually they get bitten when the're still at the bud stage -- two got to be flowers and then got bitten off below the flower. I have no idea what's doing this -- the only wildlife I see on the deck is birds and squirrels, so I assume the squirrels are to blame? But I've never seen any in or around the pumpkin plant container.

I've Googled extensively and haven't found any sign of anyone else having this problem. Am I misunderstanding what's going on? Any ideas about what I can do? There's still one bud left, recently produced. There are probably 40 stalks that appear to be bitten off.

In other bad news, the plants' leaves have developed light white spots, which I now realize from Googling are probably mildew because I've made the mistake of watering after dark sometimes. Will the mildew do in the plants, or can they survive if I promise to only water during the day? Is there any simple, organic solution (can I spray or wipe down the leaves with something, ideally something I wouldn't have to out and buy)?

We were so excited about our little pumpkins and now we are all so sad. :-(

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