Growing readers, I am requesting your help. Last fall, our family had a pathetic pumpkin harvest. Even Linus from “Peanuts” would have laughed at it. We had pumpkins of all shapes and color – some looked like deflated basketballs, some looked like they had been beaten up with a bat, and some were yellow, light orange and even greenish.

My family has always grown enough pumpkins for our own decorations and for sharing with the grandparents. For years we had a nice patch that started on the side of a hill. Eventually the vines would dangle down the side hill, where many of the pumpkins grew. My children, husband and I would spend time picking the pumpkins together and it was always a contest to see who could find the most perfect specimen. The kids have grown up and no longer enjoy picking pumpkins with their parents, so we decided to move the pumpkin patch onto the edge of our lawn.

My son dumped a huge bucketload of horse manure on our new spot. He dumped so much manure on the ground that I actually took the small tractor and brought some of the manure back to our original planting grounds, just in case we ever have to use it again. We planted several different types of seeds, everything from gourds to the big 100-pounders in hills about 1.5 feet apart. We hoed the weeds out, but admittedly never turned the pumpkins over. The gourds did great, and we got a bountiful harvest of pumpkins, but they looked terrible.

What am I doing wrong? I have heard that pumpkins do better if they are planted in a row rather than hills. Should I turn them and how many times? Horse manure has always worked for me in the past, but should I also fertilize them? I won’t be planting my pumpkins until mid-May. If you have suggestions, please send them to me at bsweet@grandviewmedia.com. I really need your helpful hints.