Thursday, August 16, 2018

Putting a Rumor to Rest

A first year grower friend of mine went to the UGPG club patch tour this last weekend.  I wish I could have been there, but our annual family reunion happened to fall on that same weekend so I was in Yellowstone.  I texted her from the cabin and asked how things went and if there were any big pumpkins.  She said that the rumors were that I had a 1,300 pounder in my backyard.  Apparently this blog isn't very highly read by all.  Lol

I'll put those rumors to rest.  My effort in the pumpkin patch this year has been minimal.  Too many other distractions, which is disappointing to me.  I think I had some good genetics to grow on this year, but I haven't got out of the plants what I should have because of a lack of time.  I would be the most suprised person if I had anything close to 1,300 pounds.  An outside chance of being able to best last years pumpkins, but I'm not sure that will happen.

I measured the 1974 pumpkin today for the first time in 6 days.  It only showed 1/2 inch in new growth on the circumference.  It may be shutting down.  The plant looks perfectly healthy however, so I'm not sure what is going on.

2145 seems to be growing at the same rate.   Vine growth hasn't been good over the last few weeks.  I hit it with additional nitrogen over the last two weeks, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference.  Pumpkin seems to want to take everything.

Friday, August 10, 2018

2145 Has Surpassed 1974

The 2145 pumpkin is bigger now than the 1974 pound.  I could see a little more than a week ago that the 2145 pumpkin, which is a week younger, was gaining on the 1974 pumpkin.   Did a measurement on the pumpkins this morning and the 2145 pumpkin is about 30 pounds more and seems to be still growing faster per day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Some Grandular Nitrogen for the Plants

Today I gave the plants a mixture of 21-0-0 and 5-2-0.  I did the mixture because the ammonium sulfate is pretty fast acting and the 5-2-0 is an organic fertilizer that will be slower release.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Time to Start Combating Powdery Mildew Before it Starts

Powdery mildew is a white, powdery looking fungus the grows on leaves.  Pumpkin plants seem to be particularly susceptible to it and once you get it, you can't really get rid of it unless you use some very powerful fungicides that I prefer not to use at all.  An ounce of prevention is worth  a pound of cure in this case.

Usually around the first few weeks of August I'll start seeing some signs of powdery mildew.  Getting a little isn't a big deal, but if it gets out of control it can take a plant down.  Usually that isn't a problem for healthy plants, but powdery mildew will damage leaves and as a result affect pumpkin growth.   So what I typically do around this time of year is use Actinovate.  It is an organic fungicide that seems to work well if applied a couple of weeks before the powdery mildew starts showing up.  It won't knock out powdery mildew once you have it, but from experience I can say that it reduces the amount of powdery mildew and can help slow it down when you do get it.

The day before yesterday I started brewing some compost tea and put a touch of Actinovate in the brew at the beginning.  I then added some more the last 15 minutes of the brew.     That compost tea was then splashed on all of the leaves of the plants.  I found that works pretty well.   So far this year I've seen no signs of powdery mildew (knock on wood).

When powdery mildew does start, another organic way to help contain it is spray some silica on the leaves.  It will actually be used by the plant to form a silica barrier around the infected area to help contain the infection.

Feed the Machine

I've been using the fertigation that I mentioned on the 2145 plant, so it gets fertilizers at each watering.  Yesterday I gave both plants some compost tea.  The day before that I gave the 1794 plant potassium and aminos.  I also gave both plants some granular 7-2-1. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pics from the Pumpkin Patch

Here are the latest pics from the pumpkin patch.  Pumpkin growth is a little ahead of last year.  The 1974 (Grandpa Dee) is going to have a little orange to it.  The 2145 (Unlce Sam) I think is going to be white.  It is six days younger than the 1974 pumpkin, but growing at a similar rate.  My son's 1764 is going to be very orange, so we pretty much have all of the shades covered.  The 1764 I think could end up growing my son's biggest pumpkin ever.  Plant is in good shape.  Could use a little more care by him, but he is doing a good job (he needs to pull some weeds).  That seed was crossed with the same same plant that grow the 1974, but you would never know it.  My 1974 and his plant are very different and the pumpkins are complete opposites in terms of shape and color.

1974 McConkie

2145 McMullen

1764 McConkie

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Fertigating the Pumpkin 2145 McMullen

This week I finally hooked up the fertigation system for the 2145 plant.  Basically fertigating is injecting fertilizer directly into the irrigation water to feed the plants.  This is the PERFECT way to give nutrients to the plants.  As you already may know the NPK RAW fertilizers use are very popular with hydrophonic growers because all of the fertilizers are water soluble.  So what happens is the fertilizers are put into a container with water that has a tube going into it.  The fertilizer is then pulled up via an injector that mixes the fertilizer solution with the irrigation water and then is sprayer out under the leaves via the Dan micro sprinklers that I have.  The end result is spoon feeding that is evening distributed throughout the entire patch with each watering.  The injector has a flow valve on it that allows me to control the amount of fertilizer solution that is injected.  In the coming weeks I'll do a video showing the setup.

In that fertilizer container I have some 3-12-12, Omina and a little extra potassium.

Today I sprayed some 3-12-12 with Omina under the canopy on the 1974 plant.  That plant unfortunately I don't have a fertigation setup for because is is watered with rotary sprinklers.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fertilizer for the Pumpkin Plants

Yesterday I gave the plants some 3-12-12 with a touch of extra potassium added.  Today I gave the plants some 7-4-5 with a touch of extra potassium added along with some b-vitamins.  I also sprayed some insecticide on all plants after finding some bugs on the plants yesterday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Some Compost Tea for the Plants

Gave the plants some compost tea with alfalfa, actinovate and azos in the brew

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pumpkin Growth

This morning I did the first over the top measurement on the Grandpa Dee pumpkin (1974 McConkie).   Doing an eyeball measurement, I knew that pumpkin wasn't exactly where I want it to be.   The tape confirmed. 

Here is the hope.  A couple of weeks ago I looked at pictures of my plants from last year and compared.  Both plants this year are in better shape at this point of the season than last season.   I think the soil is a little better than last year too.   It was interesting looking at how similar my 2145 plant is to the 1685 plant from last year.  Growth rate, leaf shape and everything else are about the same.  The same is true of the 1974 plant to the 747 plant.  Growth rates, leaves, etc are ball park similar.  Doing a comparison of pumpkin measurement of the 747 to the 1974 and the 1974 is a bit ahead.  I guess in some ways that shouldn't surprise me.  I had forgotten, but growth in the first four weeks of last year was also slow.  I'm going to guess the 2145 (Uncle Sam) is going to be ahead of the 1685 plant as well at day 28.  The 1685 was a very slow grower early.  

Here is the key.  Both the 747 and 1685 plants were slowed up by environmental factors last year.  I think the weather has maybe been a touch worse this year, but not by much.  What worked out okay for the plants last year is that they never put on a lot of pounds per day, but they grew long.  They both kept growing past 100 days and were still growing when they were picked.  If these plants can do the same I'll do okay.  Not great, but better than last season. 

Yesterday I gave the plants a fair amount of nitrogen.  With the soils being warm from hot days the biological activity has been high for weeks now.  That means nitrogen is available, but may start running low.  So I gave the plants some granular 6-2-0 and 24-0-0 on all plants.

Today I did a foliar application of TKO as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

TKO for the Pumpkins to Ramp them Up

Three days ago I gave the plants a little potassium and this morning I gave the plants some TKO.   TKO is basically a unique phosphite/potassium fertilizer that can easily be taken up by the plant.  Most of this application was on the soil.   Over the next two weeks potassium and phosphorous usage of the plants will be higher.  Especially the 1974 pumpkin since it will be 28 days old on Monday so it is just now coming into the peak growing phase.   A good pumpkin will put on 40-50 pounds a day from about 26-40 days old if you have a good one.  Early signs don't look like this one is going to crank, but even at 25 pounds a day (which is what I peaked around last year) there is a lot of potassium uptake from the soil and the available potassium in the rhizosphere around the root hair can deplete in just 4 days.  So this TKO application should help make sure the plant has what it needs to grow a giant pumpkin.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It Takes Time

My giant pumpkin growing efforts have been less than stellar this year.  Work has been very busy and putting in the irrigation and landscaping for the backyard have taken an immense amount of time and the plants have suffered for it.  I've been doing the basics, but not as soon as I should be and the little details aren't getting done.

Looks like the pumpkin (Uncle Same) is set on the 2145 plant.  Vine growth on that plant I noticed lately has been slower than it should, so recently I've been applying more nitrogen and increasing the watering.   For example, today I gave the plants some blood meal.  Yesterday I gave the plants some ammonium sulfate and potassium.

1974 plant continues to grow descent, but maybe a little slower, so I've been doing the same nitrogen regiment with extra water for it lately as well.  The pumpkin (Grandpa Dee) is growing okay on this one, but not great.  Nice and shiny however, so it is in good shape. 

Weather hasn't been great this year.  I'm not sure we've had an overnight low above 49 degrees so far this year.  Highs have often been in the 90s and winds have been strong.  30 mph winds yesterday for example.  

I'm hoping to have the backyard landscaping completely done in the next week and then I can start focusing on pumpkins again.  You can't make up for lost time, but maybe I can salvage the rest of the season some.   

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Compost Tea & Some RAW Grow for the Plants

This morning I did an application of compost tea with alfalfa, grass clippings, leaves, humic acid, kelp, molasses, Actinovate, b-vitamins, silica and RAW Grow microbes in the mix.  That was splashed on the leaves  and around the stumps on the soil.   I then sprayed on the soil some RAW Grow 7-4-5 on the soil. 

Growth on the 1794 pumpkin has been moderate to date, but it being only day 10 it doesn't mean much.   I'm guessing this pumpkin is going to be a wheel that looks like Matt's pumpkin from last year.  More tall with not a lot of length on the pumpkin to this point.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pic of 2145 McMullen Plant

This 2145 McMullen plant is growing at an average rate.   It is in much better shape than the 747 plant that was on this same spot last year.   If you look close, you'll see the older leaves are pretty beat up.  They look more like what you would expect to see at the end of August, rather than the end of July.  Hopefully when I get the greenhouse completed we can eliminate 90% of that problem.   The good news is that both plants are well positioned to grow better than last year with a little luck and a little genetics.  In about three weeks we'll start seeing what both of these plants are made of.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Last of the Aminos, Some RAW Bloom & the S-curve.

I sprayed on the soil the last bit of the Aminos that was left over in the sprayer from the last application on the soil this evening along with some RAW Bloom (3-12-12) as a foliar application.   I had mentioned previously that I've cut back this year on foliar applications.  I'm probably doing half as much.  I do think there is a place for foliar, to get nutrients into the plant where the roots may not be able to get everything up because the nutrient is bound up in the soil.   I also think that foliar applications can be hard on the leaves and you'll have happier leaves at the end of the season with minimal foliar applications.  It is kind of a balance.

This time of the year can be the most demanding on a grower. Vine burying should be a priority along with weed maintenance.  The warm moist soil is very favorable to weed germination and it is easy to get behind on weeding when the vines are growing like crazy and you have to spend a fair amount of time on the vines.   Particularly not fun when it is 90 degrees and your body says to go into the cool air conditioned house, but your heart tells you that to grow big this hard work will pay off.

What you kind of have to remember is about 24-28 days after the pollination that pumpkin should really start taking off.  When that happens the vine growth typically slows down a fair amount and life gets easier again.  But from about June 7th to July 21st, it is hot and dirty work.  The men from the boys get separated at this time of the year.  Then you hope you got a plant(s) that can make all of the hard work pay off.

At this time it is also time to start the S curve in your vine at the pumpkin.  As the pumpkin grows the fine can grow into the pumpkin and eventually snap it off if your vine isn't curved.  Here is a picture of a female flower from previous year that is going to open the next morning.  You can see that I've started the curve in my vine in advance of the pumpkin growing.  This is typically done in the heat of the day over days.   Eventually I'll have that pumpkin on the point of the vine with the vine curved even more over the next 3-5 days.   Doing this early saves you a lot of headaches later.  I've never really perfected my technique for this.  Still usually have to have a strong friend help me pull the pumpkin back to get it away from the vine a month or so later.

Pollinated 2145 McMullen

I pollinated the 2145 McMullen plant with 1974 McConkie this morning.   I didn't measure, but I would guess it is at around 12-14 feet out.   If this pumpkin takes, I'm going to name Uncle Sam.  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

1974 McConkie: Most Aggressive Plant I've Ever Grown?

I've kind of wondered if this 1974 plant is the most aggressive plant that I've ever grown.  I've had a couple of aggressive growers in the past, but this plant might be a favorit.  This 1974 plant has thicker vines, nice side vine growth and it has grown long at about 18-19 feet. 

I decide to compare it to past plants.  It was kind of fun pulling the old photos of past pumpkin plants.  A little trip down memory lane. All of these photos are from right around the 3rd week of June.  Not all of the plants are the same age, but relatively close.   The interesting thing is that the size of the plant isn't a great prediction of how big the pumpkin will grow at the end of the season.  Take for example that 2008 plant.  Rookie year.   Did not grow my smallest pumpkin and it had some hail damage issues that it had to contend with later.  

That 2009 plant was a 1556 Rodonis.  Wish I could have seen what that one could have produced.  Taken out by a massive hail storm/tornado.  2014 plant, not looking bad, but not remarkably different from most plants.  Grew by far my biggest pumpkin to date.  Poor, poor 2017 plant.  Would have been nice to seen how that one could have done if it didn't have all of that wind damage.  It grew my 3rd biggest pumpkin.  2018 plant might be my biggest plant at this point of the season at this date.  Pumpkin on this plant appears to have set and starting to take off.   Which at the end of the day is what matters, because salad doesn't win weigh-offs.









Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Some Nitrogen for the Pumkin Plants to Push the Vines

My soil test showed relatively low amounts of nitrogen in early spring so I asked the soil scientist if I should add the recommended amount at that time or some now and some later.  He suggested the latter, which makes good sense to me.  So I added about 60% of it when I did my initial patch prep and been adding small amount since.  This morning I did a mixture of 24-0-0 and 6-2-0 with iron.   The 24-0-0 will be relatively fast acting because it is ammonium sulfate, while the 6-2-0 is more of a slower release nitrogen which is a nice balance.

Last night I finally hooked up my Daan micro sprinkler lines in the 2145 patch and will be turning them on for the first time this morning.  Those lines are hooked up to the fertigation line which will allow me to mix fertilizer right into the irrigation for a fairly uniform application of both water and spoon fed fertilizer.   If everything works properly it should be ideal.  I still need to get the hot water heater hooked up completely but that is next and it will be something of a game changer I believe.  Problem is I'm about 2-3 weeks behind on everything this year and when you run behind it is nearly impossible to make it up.  Next year will be interesting however because I can concentrate on growing rather than on all the side stuff.

Some Aminos for the Pumpkin Plants & Weeding

Yesterday I gave the plants some aminos (7-0-0).   Amino acids have a dramatic affect on calcium uptake by the roots; especially amino acid blends rich in the primary chelators--glutamic acid and glycine. In the soil calcium tends to react with phosphates and sulfates, precipitating out of solution as “lime scale”. Lime scale makes calcium unavailable to the plant (I have high lime soils--occasionally I find ancient sea shells in the soil).  Aminos help open up calcium ion channels in the roots making it more available and is a natural chelator.

Make sure not to use synthetic amino acids produced by acid or alkaline hydrolysis.  They have a “right-handed” orientation and are not biologically active. By adding l-amino acids derived from enzymatic hydrolysisure you can make sure to give your plants the full benefits.

I noticed a couple of days ago that some little weeds were just starting to pop up in the areas where a tilled in the cover crop weeks ago, so I took a rake yesterday evening and raked both patches to pull those weeds up.  One advantage of growing a cover crop and then  tilling it later is you have to a lot less weeding in the pumpkin patch.  When you have 2,500 square feet of patch, it can be a blessing to not have to do a ton of weeding.  I've had to weed around the pumpkin all season, but for the most part I've done very little weeding to this point of the season.  Now it is going to be a battle for the entire 2,500 feet for the rest of the season.  The key is to get the weeds early so you keep it under control.   

Monday, June 18, 2018

1974 Pumpkin Pollinated with 2145

The 1974 pumpkin was pollinated today at around 14-15 feet.  Pollinated it with 2145 McMullen pollen.  I really like this cross.   This pumpkin will be named Grandpa Dee after my grandpa that passed away on New Years Eve this last year.