Pumpkins on a Slope? Do Deer Eat Pumpkins? (etc.)

I'm in Pittsburgh (Zone 5) and would like to put some pumpkins in my backyard. There's a grassy area that slopes up toward the northwest, and from about 10AM until sunset, it gets good sun. The flat areas nearby are prone to standing water, but this area is sheltered and the soil drains fairly well.
So, are there any problems putting pumpkins here? How steep is too steep? (obviously not so steep that the pumpkins go rolling down the hill at some point.)
How much sod do I have to remove? I plan on starting my seeds in containers.
One other potential problem: deer. Do deer typically go after pumpkins? (I've heard it's not their first choice.) What's a good repellent?
Thanks in advance.
-jk
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I think the site sounds promising. Pumpkins rolling down the hill would be my only worry, I think. If you did manage to grow a pumpkin so large and round that it might actually break the vine a roll, you could always pound a wooden stake on the down hill side so it can't. I think you could remove sod in fairly small areas if you mulch a larger area. Maybe as small as a 3 or 4 foot circle. Enrich and loosen the soil in the small area. I know from experience that if you dig out the hole, place a foot or more layer of horse manure in the bottom, and put the soil back in the hole, you will get nice big pumpkin plants. Maybe a good layer of newspapers to cover the sod in a larger area with hay or straw over that. I live in town so deer are not usually a problem. They have been finding my yard in the last few years. I would think pumpkin leaves would be too rough and picky for deer to eat. Guess what, the only thing they have eaten in my entire yard are some leaves of cucumber, squash, and pumpkin. Go figure.
Steve
contrapositive wrote:

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contrapositive said:

Pumpkins appreciate good drainage.

If the slope is such that removing the sod would guarantee erosion, then you should consider setting in some terraced beds.

If you were making terraced beds, I'd suggests 4' x 4' -- the pumpkins will grow beyond this quite easily. Are you prepared to let the grass go unmowed in a wide area for two-three months?

Deer have been a problem at some local parks' farm operations. Deer will eat the tender new leaves and flowers. Groundhogs are very fond of pumpkin shoots and flowers and will even gnaw big chunks out of green pumpkins. Groundhogs feed during the day and their bites are sharp and smooth. Deer feed at night and (since they don't have incisors in the upper jaw) they don't nip things off cleanly.
Rabbits occasionally eat pumpkin flowers. And (in my garden) young starlings attack budding pumpkin flowers, most often damaging the male flowers. This is a major irritation, considering all the work involved in fencing the garden to keep out four-footed pests!
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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contrapositive wrote:

If I were you, I'd just get a load of compost and dump it where you want to plant the pumpkins.

Deer ADORE pumpkins, at least the ones here do.
Here's how I solve some of the problems. First, I have horses and I keep a small "pre-compost" (i.e. manure) pile right along side the fence where it gets tons of sun and not too far away from the water spigot. Pumpkins LOVE compost/manure and they drink heavily too.
In the spring, I transplant my seedlings directly into the manure pile. The first year I tried this I was a little worried about going directly into the manure pile but the transplants didn't even show signs of transplant shock. They just took off. I use electric fence for the horses so when the plants got large enough to start having blossoms, I added a loop of fencing around the patch. As the vines grew longer, I extended the fence (very easy with the 1/2" electric tape that forms the rails of the fence) to continually enclose the plants.
Most of my trouble is with the larger rodents (deer). The e-fence keeps them out fairly well. A regular tall fence would work as well.
The easiest solution for you would be to build a raised bed and fill it with tons of compost and plant directly in there. The sod underneath will quickly decompose. Then fence around it. You can also get either 5' metal U-posts or T-posts and a roll of 2x4 mesh fencing to put around the pumpkins. I doubt the deer would be tempted to jump into such a small area and it'll help keep the smaller rodents out as well.
Good luck.
Mary
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