Sunday, August 20, 2017

Organicide the Leaves

This evening I sprayed Organicide on the leaves.  It is basically neems oil.   It is an organic insecticide and fungicide.  Not great at either, but it can kill biting bugs like mites and will slow down powdery mildew.  I like to rotate when using heavier stuff, when I need to.

In the morning I did a light soil application of potassium, fish, fulvic acid and yucca.  In the evening I did a foliar application that was mixed with the Organicide.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Latest Pumpkin Photos

Below are photos from the patch.  The 747 "Jumbo" pumpkin has already exceed estimates I had earlier in the season for where this pumpkin would end up.  If she keeps growing a little and if she doesn't blow up and if she goes as heavy as mama did, then it will end up being the biggest pumpkin that I've gotten to the scale that wasn't damaged (but that is a lot of ANDs).  Mama for this seed was 19% heavy.  Papa got a blossom end split and never made it to the scale.  The shape of this pumpkin is just like mama however, but that doesn't always mean anything. 

My two biggest pumpkins I've grown in the past had holes in them, but managed to keep them together so I could get them to the scale.  My personal best pumpkin was 1,220 pounds.  Jumbo has no shot at being that big, but could end up better than anticipated.

The 1685 pumpkin is under wraps (literally).  I've not measured it in some time.  Still growing!
Gave the plants a small amount of granular 22-0-0 and humic acid.
747 Johnson - Jumbo


1685 Scherber - Cujoe

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How the Word "Study" is the Best Friend in Giant Pumpkin Research

I think that a close second to working hard in the pumpkin patch is doing your research.  There is so much to learn in order to grow a giant pumpkin and getting the RIGHT information is very important.  There is a lot of bad information out there.   Even on bigpumpkins.com.   I've even talked with growers who had grown world record pumpkins who shared a piece of bad information.  

The problem is that there is more to know than anyone could consume and new research changes old ideas all the time.   So I believe that Google and the word "study" are two of your best friends.   When I want to do a search for information on "alfalfa triacontanol root mass" because I want to learn how alfalfa can help build root mass, I like to add the word "study" to the end of the search.  Try searching for "alfalfa triacontanol root mass" and "alfalfa triacontanol root mass study" and see how it changes the search results.  The first is more general so you get the marijuana growers posts (some very knowledgeable growers in that group and some real idiots), scientific studies and products marketing their benefits.  The problem is that anything other than the scientific studies can be old wives tales and marketing hype.  The science isn't always right, but I'll take it over someone who may have started growing last month and is throwing out comments in a post.

I own a website design business that does SEO so these kinds of tricks are the types of things we use all the time to get websites to rank on Google, but these same techniques work well for someone who wants the best information to grow a giant pumpkin.

More Compost Tea for the Pumpkin Plants

I gave both plants more compost tea today.  I wish I had put down more compost tea early in the season.  Since this is a new patch, it could have used it to build up the biology.   Usually when the plants in the hoop houses most of the watering I do is with compost tea.   This year I almost did none.  One challenge with giant pumpkin growing is time and this year I haven't had it.  The new house has demanded a lot of time.  I don't even have my watering system in the patches.  Both plants are watered by a single impact sprinkler that I move around from time to time.  The little details add up to hundreds of pounds.  I knew that this year was going to be a re-learning year, so hopefully I can put in some more time next year.  

I high tunnel is in the works for next year, so it might not be the year either.  Will depend on when that comes together.

Today's compost tea brew was a short brew.  I added in some beneficial bacteria and fungi into the brew to help beef it up.  Along with that I added cane molasses, alfalfa, compost, silica, humic acid and kelp.

That was poured over the leaves and around the stump and main vine on both plants.  It should help protect and feed the plant.

What I've been doing seems to have slowed down the powdery mildew.   That first week of August it hit hard and fast.   It doesn't seem to have progressed a lot since, but if we get a cold spell there could be trouble.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

End of the Season Pumpkin Growth

The 747 pumpkin (aka Jumbo) is at 72 days old now.  90-100 days about how long most pumpkins will grow.  A good one might go 110 days, but typically not more.  I did a measurement on my pumpkin today and growth has dropped 6 pounds a day as compared to the week prior.  I'm hoping that is somewhat because I believe the pumpkins didn't get watered for two days while I was gone.   The timer was all messed up when I got back and the soil was relatively dry, so I think that might have been the case.  We'll check again in a week.  But at 72 days you can expect growth to slow down a fair amount.

Late season growth can make or break a season.   Some pumpkins are hares.  Some are tortoises.  But in the end, all that matters is the final weight on the scale.  Like I mentioned before, I've been trying to fertilize more this season.  I think I've under fertilized in the past.  Next season I'll probably increase my fertilizing even more.   Matt McKonkie fertilizes every day.  This is small spoon feeding, but enough to keep the pumpkin growing and never be deficent.

In the past, my September growth has been poor.  I thought it might be weather, which is a factor, but now I think it has more to with the plant bonking because it has used up much of the nutrients int he soil by late season.

Today I gave the plants NPK Potassium, Omina, Cal Mag, humic acid, cane molasses and B-vitamins.  That was mostly put on the soil.

Matt made told me he doesn't put anything on the leaves (i.e. no foliar feeding) because he thinks the leaves aren't really made to bring in nutrients and it damages the leaves.   I think I'll still foliar feed, but do it less frequently.  If something potentially is locked up in the soil then foliar feeding is the best way to fix it, but I'm going to reduce how much I foliar feed next year.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wow! UGPG have Some World Record Stuff Going On


I expected to see some very big pumpkins on Saturday at the UGPG patch tour, but was blown away by what I saw.   All of the patches looked great, but there were two obvious standouts on the tour.  The first was Gordon Tanner's giant squash.  Not sure what the growth rate is currently on it, but it was in the ballpark for becoming a new world record if it can keep growing like it has in the past.  Taped over 1,100 pounds and it probably was the biggest greenie I've ever seen and it still has over a month to grow.  I know this is already bigger than any pumpkin Gordon has ever grown, so congrats to him already.  If he can get it to the scale, I'm sure he has a Utah record breaker in his patch.

The next stop was at Matt McKonkie's patch.  He didn't grow last year and obviously has put two season's worth of energy into this year's patch.   His pumpkin, grown on a Wallace seed, isn't quite the biggest pumpkin I've ever seen yet, but within 100 pounds of it and still has 30+ days to grow and still putting on 20 pounds a day.   At 78 days old and an amazing 1,900+ pounds, it will be interesting to see if the pumpkin still has enough in it to grow all the way to the Thanksgiving Point way off.  The plant looks healthy and happy.   Pollinated the very end of May, the fruit would be 116 days old by the time he takes it off the vine.  I wouldn't be surprised if he could get growth on it  for 110 days.  116 days might be pushing it.

So for fun, some quick "what if" calculations.  Let's say the pumpkin will grow for 110 days.  And with the growth curve, the pumpkin can put on 7 pounds a day.  I don't want to jinks anyone, but that would put Matt's pumpkin in the World Record range at 2,670ish pounds, if the pumpkin went to chart.   Thanksgiving Point should be interesting.

This morning I sprayed nitrogen and potassium on the patch.  Wanted to kick my little pumpkin after seeing Matt's.  Lol

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Patch Tour

I'm looking forward to the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers patch tour this Saturday.  It is always fun to meet other growers and see what they've got going in their patches and share ideas with other growers.   This year they are touring patches in the northern half of the state.  If you see me please say hi.  I haven't had many opportunities to meet other growers yet.

This morning I sprayed an organic fungicide/insecticide on the plants (neems oil).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Some NPK for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I sprayed on the soil some NPK Grow (7-4-5) with a touch of potassium and and yucca added to it.  The yucca in the soil helps water penetrate more evenly and deeper into the soil, allowing for greater root mass.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Iron & Sulfur for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I sprayed on the ground a liquid iron/sulfur fertilizer.  It also had micro amounts of zinc, copper and other nutrients.  Iron is a very import nutrient for plants.  It is in the process of making chlorophyll.  It is also involved in making of most of a plants enzymes.  A plant doesn't need a lot of iron to grow healthy, but too little will cause chlorosis which shows up as yellow leaves.

The elemental sulfur will help drop soil pH.  My pH is too high, like most western soils.  As bacteria in the soil break down the sulfur an acid is produced, which helps drop the soil pH and more nutrients can become available to the plant.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Compost Tea for Giant Pumpkin Plants

I've haven't used as much compost tea on the pumpkin plants as I would typically do this year.  Yesterday I started a brew that I applied this evening.  It had compost, alfalfa, Actinovate, humic acid, silica, cane molasses, milk, NPK Bloom and a touch of kelp in it.  After aerating it for 24 hours I spread it across the leaves of the plants and in the stump area.  That should help fight off the powdery mildew and build the biology that will feed the plants.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Feeding the Soil & Keeping the Microbes Going

I once watched an interesting video that talked about how adding cane molasses later in the season to the soil can help boost yield by keeping the microbes in the soil going. Pumpkin plants and beneficial bacteria and fungi have a symbiotic relationship.  I think most competitive giant pumpkin growers see the value in putting down myco in the soil to increase root mass, but maybe more importantly have the myco bring back nutrients and water to the plant.   The way this symbiotic relationship works is the microbes feed the roots and the plant roots give back sugars to the microbes.  

The problem becomes that later in the season, when the pumpkin is putting on pounds, the plant can start to get stingy giving back the sugars to the microbes.  As a result, some of the microbes may die off or become less productive.  This is because the plant has most of what it needs and wants to feed the pumpkin.  In order to keep those microbes growing and working for the plant, a good strategy is to put down some cane molasses on the soil.  RAW Cane Molasses will feed the microbes and help build beneficial bacteria in the soil.  It is also very easy to use and mix.

Today I put down NPK Microbes Bloom & Grow formulas with a some Azos and RAW Cane Molasses.  I sprayed it under the canopy onto the soil and then took a watering pail and poured some around the stump areas of the plants.  After that I watered it all in by running the sprinklers for 10 minutes.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pics from of the Pumpkin Patches

This first pic is a picture of the "bird bath" that the 1685 "Cujoe" pumpkin has.  One small spot was looking a little suspect for rot so I wiped the whole birdbath area with a 50% solution of bleach, then I put sulfur powder in it.  That should take care of it.  I also have a tarp to cover that pumpkin now so it won't fill full of water each watering.




Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's Good to Have Good Neighbors

A couple of days ago I noticed that on the 747 pumpkin I was having problems where the pumpkin was pressing up against the main vine and pushing it out.  Poor vine maintenance.  I didn't do a good job in putting an S curve in the vine and as a result the pumpkin had grown into the vine.  With time it could have snapped the stem off the vine. 

Thanks to a good neighbor who helped me pull the pumpkin back.  Tried to do it myself but it wouldn't budge.  Could just verily move it with the two of us.   We should be in good shape now however.  Were able, with a number of tries, to get it moved back and inch.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Battling Powdery Mildew in the Pumpkin Patch

I mentioned in a recent post that I've got some powdery mildew going on in the pumpkin patch.  After returning from vacation I noticed it and now that I've had some time to get into the patch more, it is relatively bad for this early in the season. 

The interesting thing is that the 747 plant has it bad.  The 1685 plants show none.   I've seen this before.  Some plants seem more resistant than others to powdery mildew.   The other thing is that the 747 plant got much more beat up by winds than the 1685 plants and that damage makes it more susceptible.  All of the older leaves that survived the wind were covered in powdery mildew so I took them out of the patch to help keep it from spreading.  The leaves that are a little younger but damaged are also showing relatively bad powdery mildew and I'll have to take those leaves out in the next couple of weeks.  Getting the powdery mildew this early and this bad is bad sign.   I'll have to manage it carefully or I'll have real problems in a month.

Today I hit all of the plants with a fungicide and a insecticide/fungicide. 

Last night I put down some organic granular fertilizer (8-2-1).  It is a slower release fertilizer.  I also sprayed on the soil some potassium, humic acid, b-vitamins and Omina.   The grandular doesn't have enough potassium and the pumpkins are feeding heavily on potassium at this point of the season so I want to keep the supply up.   May have overdone it some on the nitrogen this week, so I'll back off on it the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pumpkin Pics & About 2 Weeks Too Late To Control Powdery Mildew

Typically around the end of July I start spraying Actinovate on the pumpkin leaves to help control powdery mildew before it happens.  This year I was out of town the last week and found that the 747 plant has spots on them.  Actinovate works well to help powedery mildew from coming on if applied before it starts, but don't do anything to get rid of it.   So I am about two weeks two late.

Nonetheless, I sprayed all of the plants with Actinovate today to help it from coming on and slow down what I have.   Actinovate is interesting because it is a natural way to control powdery mildew and other diseases naturally.  It is also the only thing of its kind that I know of that works on the leaves and the soil.

These are the latest pics from the patch.  The 1685 is turning into a satellite dish (kind of a surprise) and the 747 keeps chugging along.  The 1685 is doing about 18 pounds a day right now and the 747 is around 16 pounds a day.



Friday, July 28, 2017

The Pumpkins After a Week

I've been up in Canada for the last week and a day and just returned tonight after dark.  I can see the plants have put on some descent growth (particularly the 1685 Scherber) and the pumpkins obviously have continued to grow.  The 1685 Scherber in particular has grown in size.   Just a few days ago it hit 30 days after pollination, so right now it should be really taking off.   I don't expect really big growth for the reasons I've cited in previous posts, but this pumpkin is obviously doing better than the pumpkin I took off the plant a couple of weeks ago so it will be interesting to see how it ends up.   Right now it looks like it has the potential to catch the the 747 Johnson pumpkin (AKA Jumbo).   I still need to come up with a name for this pumpkin.   Maybe Cujoe?

This evening I did a foliar application of TKO, with some nitrogen, kelp and humic acid.   Foliar applications if the fastest way to get nutrients into the plan and with no feeding for the last week plus, the plants are probably starting to get a little hungry.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Foliar Feeding Pumpkin Leaves with Seaweed & Humic Acid

I can't think of anything that could be better to foliar feed a pumpkin plant with than seaweed/kelp and humic acid.  The two work synergisticly together to provide a lot of benefits to the plant.  Improved laterally branching, cell elongation, leaves that stay healthier longer and improve fruit set are just some of the value that comes from seaweed.   Those values are improved further when humic acid is applied with the seaweed/kelp.

This evening I did a foliar application of RAW Kelp along with RAW Humic Acid.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Some Fertilizer for the Pumpkin Plants

Because of that yellowing on the leaf edges, I decided to to a light foliar application of NPK Grow (7-3-4), multi-mineral, humic acid and fish.   That is pretty broad spectrum in terms of nutrients so most everything should be covered.

Also, did a light application of TKO on the soil because there was a little left in the sprayer from the last application.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Need Some Help Diagnosing Yellow On Leaves

Any suggestions as to what might be causing this yellowing on the edges of newer leaves?  Is it a deficiency or a toxicity?  Click the image to see a larger view.


Confessions of a Competition Giant Pumpkin Grower

Okay, I have to admit it.  I'm naturally a very competitive person.  I love competition.  Prettty much enjoy it when someone challenges me and I know I'm ready to meet the challenge or know I can step up to it.   In high school I played tennis and at the beginning my senior year for a stretch I was playing poorly prior to the season.  The assistant coach asked me what was going on and I told him I was playing great two weeks before, but lately I was struggling.  The coach said, "Jamie, your just not that good."  I didn't say anything, but I was mad.  It was just what I needed.  I hadn't been playing with confidence, but I threw that out the window because in my mind, nobody was going to say that to me because I KNEW that was wrong.  That season in matches I didn't lose a single set until the state championship.

I use my competitive nature to help my pumpkin growing.  On days like today I create little competitions in my mind go make sure I bury vines during hot days like today.  I must have buried vines for three hours today.  At points I wanted to stop or do a half way job.  But then I would think of my competition and it helps me push through it.

I remember my first season I didn't really know what to expect.  I set a goal of 500 pounds, but wasn't sure if that was possible.   Early in the season there was a small hail storm and I lost the tip of the main vine.  I posted some questions on the RMGVG discussion board and got some good advice back, but one grower who had grown for a few years, made some comments that were kind of insensitive.  He became my motivation.  Losing a vine tip sets you back about two weeks.  I didn't know how my season would end pumpkin wise, I just knew I was going to beat that "jerk."  I ended up beating him and having a pumpkin that was about 100 pounds bigger than any pumpkin he ever grew.  I remember him making a comment about that at the weigh-off.  It was sweet to me.

That same year, I got beat by a second year grower, by just two pounds, that is a really nice guy.  I unconsciously decided I was going to beat him that next year.  I worked hard in the patch until a massive hail storm COMPLETELY took out my plants.  I got him the next year however.  Lol

Is it childish?  Maybe, but it works for me.

I've seen growers set state records because of another grower that they were openingly having arguments with and they were going to do everything in their power to beat that other guy.

If you are a grower that gives it everything you got simply because you love watching the plant grow to its potential then go with that.  I don't really care where you find your motivation, but be motivated.  If it is worth doing it, then do it well and grow them big!

Where do you find your motivation?