I read that one can grow mini-pumpkins (2-3 inches across) in a large container. It sounded like great fun for kids, so we tried it this year for the first time.
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. One stalk got far enough along to produce two flowers, but today they, too, seem to be bitten/snapped off, just below the flowers. I have no idea what's doing this. We live in the city and the container is on our deck -- 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? I see one new bud the plants have produced, and tonight I poured chili oil on it in hopes that would make it smell/taste unappealing, so maybe the squirrels would leave it alone. But maybe the chili oil will kill the flowers -- I have no idea.
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?
We were so excited about our little pumpkins and now we are all so sad.