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.
2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

      
2017   


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.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fish Fertilizer for the Pumpkin Plants

The last two days I sprayed some liquid fish 2-4-1 fertilizer on the plants and on the soil.   Looks like I'll be pollinating the 1974 plant tomorrow.  Hoping I have some 2145 pollen to pollinate with.   The previous pollination of the 2145 plant didn't take, but I have another female coming on that should be ready later this week. 

Also sprayed down some enzymes on the soil.   Still have a fair amount of the cover crop that hasn't broken down yet.  I was too late getting that cover cropped tilled in this year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Little Grandular Fertilizer for the pumpkin plants

This morning I gave the plants a small amount of 6-2-0 granular fertilizer.  Got to keep feeding those plants so they will push out those vines.

Monday, June 11, 2018

TKO the Pumpkin Plants

Okay, I didn't knock out the pumpkin plants.   But I did give a soil drench of TKO to the plants.  I made sure to not contact the leaves, because the multi-mineral I gave the plants the other day have copper in it and it doesn't mix well.  TKOs active ingredients is phosphites and potassium.   Basically it gives the benefits of phosphorous, but because it has one less oxygen atom it can transport more easily and do some additional things including fight fungus diseases.   I'm hoping to prime the plant for more fruit and flowering, so TKO seems like the right thing for the plant this time of year.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Windy, Windy, Windy

Plants got fairly beat up yesterday in the winds.  Lots of tattered leaves.   Just a pain to deal with  when you have some nice plants.   Hopefully that wind will start calming down as the season goes on.

They showed that near freezing forecast for today's today weather, but the low of around 35 degrees is actually for tomorrow morning.  I'm going to run the sprinklers starting at about 4:30am and probably run them until at least 7:00 to help protect the leaves.  A couple of weeks ago I tested the water temp and it was 58 degrees, so hopefully that will be enough to protect the plants.

This morning I gave the plants some compost tea with RAW enzymes in it, an foliar application of multi-mineral and a small touch of granular ammonium sulfate. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Little Frosty, Cool Nights & Pollination Time

This morning I did a foliar application of seaweed, humic acid, b-vitamins and liquid fish.   Lows tonight are forecasted for 35 degrees here in Midway. Scary close to freezing and we tend to be a couple of degrees cooler than the forecast.   Foliar kelp can help reduce frost damage.  I will spray some more on this evening.

Nighttime lows haven't been very good, even though the daytime highs have been in the low 90s lately.  We haven't been above 45 degrees at night for the low since the plants got out of the hoop houses.  That obviously slows down growth.  Winds have been a constant challenge each day as well, but that is standard.  The wind fence next to the 1974 patch seems to be helping.  Right now one section of the fence is open on the windy corner for access to the backyard as I landscape, but I should be able to close that up today which will help.  I noticed my son's plant seems to be relatively protected with that wind fence.

Regardless of the challenges the 1974 plant is growing very well.  I looked at photos of past seasons around this same date and I've never had a plant this large by this date as this 1974 plant.  It is early and there isn't a pumpkin growing, but it is a seed I would recommend.   There is a female at the tip that I'm guessing we will be pollinating around Friday or Saturday of this next week that will be at about 14 feet on the main vine.    That would be perfect.  That plant is going to explode in size over the next week and will be sufficiently big enough to start growing that pumpkin.   That would put the pumpkin at 105 days old.  About the maximum number of days a pumpkin would grow, so it gives enough time to get everything I can out of that plant before the weigh-off.

The 2145 plant isn't growing quite as fast, but growing as it should.   It has a female at about 10 feet that should be ready to pollinate around Wednesday or Thursday of this next week.





Friday, June 8, 2018

Spoon Fertilizing the Pumpkin Plants & Watering System

Another busy week.  Vine burying has kicked into full gear.  Warmer weather has been pushing the vines out.  Nights are still too cool however.  Got the watering lines valves and piping for the 2145 patch yesterday, so I plan on putting in the Daan micros with the water heater this weekend I hope.   Yesterday I gave the plants some Biotamax (beneficial bacteria and fungi) along with some Azos.  Today I sprayed on the soil some 3-12-12 with a half dose of 20-0-0 mixed in with it and then watered it all in.

Yesterday I also put some well broken down compost on the buried vines.  That will provide some additional nutrients for the plants.

If I get time, I'll add some pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tilled the 2145 Patch & Fertilizer

Yesterday evening I tilled the 2145 cover crop and amendments into the soil and re-positioned the wind fences around the plant.   That plant is starting to kick into gear now.  I noticed a few female in the vine tip, so 10-14 days from now we should be pollinating.  That should be about perfect timing.  It gives an ideal number of growing days to the weigh-off and the plant should be at an sufficent enough size by that point to be able to start pushing to the pumpkin. 

This morning I sprayed a light mixture of 3-12-12, Omina (14-0-0) and fulvic acid on the soil.   I haven't been quite as diligent as I would have liked on my fertilizer program.  I've followed the program, but haven't been quite doing the daily spoon feeding.  Tomorrow or Thursday I plan on having the daan micro sprinklers setup in the 2145 patch with the fertigation setup running.  That will automate the fertilizing which will be nice.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Craziest Growing Day Ever (except for the massive hail storm my second season)

So I went with my son on Friday night to a father and son's camp out with a large group from church.  The campout was only about 2 miles from my house, which was great, because the forecasted low was for 37 that night and I was nervous for the pumpkin plants (I knew my Big Agnes sleeping bag would keep me okay).   At about 4:30am I woke up and it was cold out.  Checked my patch temperature app and and it was 35 degrees.  That meant I had two whole hours until sunrise and only had two degrees to give until the plants froze.  So I drove home and poured warm water on the plants as there wasn't much else I could do.  In the end, it got down to 34 degrees.   Camp ground had a good covering of frost on it, but only 3 leaves on one plant showed any frost damage.  Phew.  My friend whom I gave seeds that lives just two blocks away said he lost his plants.

Right now it is 91 degrees.  Welcome to Rocky Mountain growing.

1974 McConkie
This afternoon I took the hoop houses off the plants.  This was not an easy task.  The 1974 was maybe four feet our of the hoop house and had side vines coming out of holes I cut in the sides on each side of the hoop house.  I've never kept the plants in the hoop houses this long.  It paid up with the high winds we had two days ago and then the cold nights last night.  Big thanks to the family for helping take off the hoops.  They did it with the precision of a surgeon.  It as a little scary, but not snapped vines.  Warm temps and making the plants slightly dehydrated I think helped.

Weather hasn't been horrible this spring, but not great.  But the plants look good.  I started a week later this year, but it appears the 1974 is ahead of my plants from last year.   It is probably the most aggressive plant I've ever grown.  Really beautiful plant.

2145 McMullen
Today I gave the plants some 3-12-12 to help blossoms come on along with some silica.  I'm hoping a female shows up on the main in the next three days on both plants.  This afternoon I gave the plants some b-vitamins, yucca and actinovate.  Also buried the vines with mycos and azos.

I should probably call my plants McPumpkins this year because of the seed names.

I've got to get into the 2145 patch early next week and till the rest of the cover crop in.