Friday, August 27, 2010

Kids Pumpkin Plant

My children's pumpkin is plugging right along and is 181 pounds today. It is a very nice pumpkin with a great shade of orange (picture doesn't do it justice). I think they have a good shot at about 215 pounds by the weigh-off which would beat their personal best by 130 pounds. Great job kids!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First the Bad News...

I was walking by the patch, heading into the house and caught a flash of yellow out of the corner of my eye. Turns out it was more than a flash. Found this 69.5 pound pumpkin growing on the 1236 Harp plant. It was a sneaky bugger.

I have a silt fence that goes around the patch and along the back fence the silt fence overlaps where once piece of fence ends and another piece begins. The vine had gotten between the two fences and this pumpkin had been growing there, probably for weeks. That means the main pumpkin may have lost a potential 69.5 pounds in the last few weeks.

The good news is that this pumpkin was heavy to the charts. A lot heavy. 13% heavy! If RedemptionBoy was anything close to 5% heavy I would be thrilled (and suprised) but 13% would be amazing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A New Milestone

Actually two new milestones today. The pumpkin hit 901 pounds today according the circumference charts (it is actually probably a little under that in reality) and by the measurements it put on a personal best 30 pounds today (although I'm guessing yesterday I probably had an under measurement which inflated today's numbers some) which beat it's previous best of 29 pounds a month ago. This isn't a fast growing pumpkin but it doesn't seem to slow down much.

Growth has been pretty erratic lately. Weather is a factor in that but it is also due to the challenge of measuring a pumpkin that is more than 13 feet around in circumference. Getting the tape on the proper line and not having it slip around is always a difficulty and with time the line changes as new bumps and bulges form. As long as you see growth on the measuring tape it is all good.

Condolences go out to Pete today. His patch got hit by hail. Sounds like it was a pretty good storm but maybe not a devestating storm. Always hate to see that when it happens to a grower and especially one that I know has been working hard this year.

Gave the plants about 1/2 cup of seaweed today. Now that we are getting into the last month of growing I'll start giving the plants a touch of potassium to help keep the pounds going. I use a liquid seaweed that is 0-0-5 and has some humic acid in it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pumpkin Plants Update

After a somewhat slow growth day the day before last we were back to normal growth on both plants yesterday. I need the current growth pattern to stay about the same for three more days. If that happens and then the pumpkin can grow about as fast as my 755 pumpkin did two years ago (and it wasn't a good grower in September) then we should go over 1,100 pounds on the 1236 Harp plant. In order for that to happen we will need good weather in the month of September.

The first signs of powdery mildew has shown up on the 1236 Harp and my kids 1129 Orleck plants. Haven't seen any on the 1161 plant so far. Compost tea, some fungicides and diluted milk is what I use to try to prevent and combat it. There really isn't anything you can do to keep the powdery mildew completely away. Some plants seem to be more resistant than others. You mostly just hope to control it and part of that is doing preventative measures, like the compost tea, before it shows up. This is about the time of year it typically shows up.

I gave the plants a foliar of magnesium, manganese and calcium yesterday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pics from the Patch

The picture to the right is the 1236. I can't believe how gnarly this thing has started to become since the patch tour. Got a couple of deep ribs that I'm nail biting on now. Outside of some mis-measurements it has been a very consistent grower up until the last couple of days. For some reason it found a new gear lately and it has actually started to slightly increase in gains lately. It is probably the extra watering and fertilizing I've been doing (i.e. grower has finally gotten out of the way of the plants genetic potential--thanks for the tips Wiz, Biz and Thad) because the weather has been very inconsistent and not very good on average.

The 1161 has also been a fairly consistent grower but in the last two weeks has made slight gains on the 1236. It use to regularly be 16 inches behind the 1236 and now it is 10 inches behind and like I said before the 1236 hasn't slowed down. This plant has some challenges though. The stump rot has slowed down but hasn't gone away. The pumpkin is also growing into the vine before and after the stem now and that could eventually cause it to split. At one time I had the pumpkin set on a nice point so this wouldn't happen but apparently the point moved and is now 1 foot away from where the stem is located. Another stupid grower error. I'm going to have to get my weight lifter buddy Jeff over again to see if he can move it 1/2 inch.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

RedemptionBoy Coming in Big

I'm happy to announce, by the measurements, that the pumpkin that I call RedemptionBoy (1236 Harp) weighs as much now as the final weight of my pumpkin from two years ago (DillBoy). With 40 growing days left to go there is maybe a little more than a good chance that I will beat my personal best this year and hopefully a little more than that. Your prayers for continued growth and no splits would be greatly appreciated. Still a long ways to go.

The 1161 has come on strong lately and actually closed the gap a little with he 1236 so there is something of a chance for two good pumpkins at the end of the season.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Congrats to My Children and Their Great Pumpkin

My two children have been growing pumpkins for three years now and have become quite the experts for 4 and 6-year-olds. Last year their pumpkin beat my pumpkin by 50 pounds (my pumpkin was destroyed by a hail storm but a win is a win). This year, even after their pumpkin plant got thrashed by a big hail storm, they have already beat their personal best. Their record was previously set last year at 85 pounds. As of this morning they are sitting at 100 pounds according to the charts and they still have 40 growing days left to grow. I think they might even get to 250 pounds at their present growing rate. One amazing thing to me is that even though their plant is only about 100 square feet the day 20 measurements were actually a bit ahead of my 1236 Harp day 20 measurements and I expect this pumpkin to go very heavy to the charts. Congrats to the both of them on their hard work!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Correction: 1161 is Growing Just Fine

Found out I had some mis-measurements on the 1161 and it is actually growing pretty good the last few days. The stump is a mess, but the pumpkin is growing fine. I cleaned up the stump again today. The rot has gone in about 1/3 inch and doesn't seem to be improving much. If anyone has any tips on how to clear it up I'm all ears.

I should have an announcement on the 1236 Harp pumpkin this Sunday. Stay tuned!

Gave both of the plants some secret sauce tonight. It may be a bit late in the season for it but I figure it can't hurt.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Not to Do Part II When Growing a Giant Pumpkin

When measuring a large pumpkin make sure you don't have belt on. Silly me left some small belt buckle dents in the top of both pumpkins yesteday. I bleached the pumpkins and I'm trying to keep the spots dry today to get them to heal up.

The 1236 has found it's groove again since the patch tour and I'm pleased with where it is at right now. The 1161 has slowed down and I'm pretty sure I know why. The stump rot that I've been battling has gotten worse. Lots of a gel like substance coming out of three spots on the stump this morning. I cleaned it out again, bleached it and put on more sulfur dusting powder. This time I added a clear, plastic cover over the stump to keep it dry. It should have enough ventilation that it won't get overly hot (one end is opened and I poked small holes in the sides to help let some air through) but it will also keep the water off the stump and hopefully dry it out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good Times at RMGVG Patch Tour

Yesterday was the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers patch tour. Translation: my opportunity to not only talk about pumpkins without someone rolling their eyes, but it is actually encouraged.

Swen Has got a Big One
Once again Joe has got one of the biggest pumpkins in Colorado. His 1421 is a giant by Colorado standards and looks to go heavy. Joe was quiet on the exact measurements for the most part but it looked to be about 681 pounds. Good going Joe. You deserve it after last season's troubles and the tough start this year.

Johnson Patch Diversion
The RMGVG made an unplanned stop at my patch yesterday. I live just a couple of miles from Joe and it was suggested that the group stop by and it was fun having everyone over. Eyeballing it, it looks like my pumpkin is the 2nd or 3rd largest by size but, as I'll talk about shortly, size isn't everything.

I remember my first patch tour. I think I learned about as much that day as I did most of the rest of the season about what it takes to grow a big pumpkin by seeing other grower's patches. I still have lots to learn but it was nice to have the opportunity to share what I have done with some of the other newer growers.

Biz Part II
The Biz's 1019 is a beast again this year. About the exact same size at this point as the state champ pumpkin from last year but this thing looks even gnarlier. I would be surprised if it didn't beat out his 10% heavy pumpkin from last year on going over the chart. This is a pumpkin to be reckoned with.

The Wiz
The Wiz was down playing his pumpkins but I think he has two pumpkins that could potentially get up into the 3rd place position by the end of the season. He has a beautiful pumpkin growing at his house that is looking to be a Howard Dill Award winner and it is putting on size quickly.

I don't see my pumpkins keeping up with Joe's or Biz's. I'm not seeing the gains that I should be getting right now and unless things change I'll be left behind. Pete's got a pumpkin that is coming on strong too and the MadMan Mark will definitely be bringing a big one to the weigh-off as he does every year.

I got some secret sauce from Pete yesterday that could make a minor difference. I actually got it more for the lawn then for the pumpkins but it won't hurt the pumpkins so it is worth a try.

I also got a recommendation from the Biz and Wiz to water more which I'm going to try this week. I've always felt like my gains should have been a bit more then they were so I'm trying to switch things up a little to see what results I get. I'm now going to water 6 days a week rather than 4 and I'm going to increase my overall watering for the week by 40 minutes and see how the pumpkins react. If things don't improve then I'll switch back.

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's Like Christmas in August, Baby!

I've been doing the measurements on the pumpkins by myself this season. My wife is supportive of my hobby but so supportive to actually do more than ask how much the pumpkin grew that day. And that is okay. The pumpkins for the last week have been big enough that they are getting hard to measure. Especially the 1236 because it has ribs that don't follow the circumference lines so finding the right line and keeping the tape from slipping is hard.

Today I found out that I have been mis-measuring the 1236 pumpkin. There is a rib below the rib that I've been using for my circumference line that is much wider than what I have been using before. I found an extra two inches today and it was like Christmas morning. Two inches represents about 22 pounds. Its good timing too because the RMGVG patch tour is tomorrow. That is like a girl dropping 22 pounds the day before her class reunion. Great rejoicing!

I like to set growth marks for certain dates and I've been falling behind this week. Cooler temperatures and cloudy afternoons have slowed things down. This extra two inches puts me very close to being right back on track.

The 1161 has problems again (actually they have never gone away). For the third time I've found the stump rotting. A kind of gel is coming out of three spots on the stump. This time it seems a little worse than the last two times. Once again I cleaned out the spots of all the soft stuff but this time I put 100% bleach on the spots rather than diluted bleach. I then put sulfur dusting powered over the whole stump which I rubbed into the stump.

I gave both plants some CO2, magnesium and manganese last night.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This Year Compared to My Rookie Season

Officially I've only had one Atlantic Giant pumpkin go to scale. That was my 755 pounder so at this point in the season it is the only pumpkin I have to compare this year's pumpkin to. On this day two years ago my pumpkin was 319 pounds lighter than the 1236 pumpkin. In fairness I got this years pumpkin pollinated two weeks earlier than my first year's pumpkin. In looking at the chart for my 755 Johnson I actually had a really good first 30 days. It actually beat this year's pumpkin by 3 inches at the 30 day mark and was on target to go over 1,100 pounds. Then, very soon after that, it tanked. Ouside of some one day spurts it did very little. There is a lesson in that. Slow and steady wins the race says the Biz.

Gave the plants a very small touch of magnesium, manganese, CO2 for the calcium tonight.