Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Little Magnesium with a Touch of Calcium & Humic Acid

My soil is a little high (okay a lot high) in potassium. The high postassium won't effect the plant directly but it can cause problems with calcium and magnesium uptake. Because of this I am applying foliar applications of calcium and magnesium to my pumpkin plants. With the foliar application I also include humic acid in my spray.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some Compost Tea and Fish & Sea for the Plants

Hot one in Denver today. For the first half of the day I was just misting the plant that I pollinated today but I noticed the leaves were drooping a little on the second plant and it hadn't even got real hot yet. So I added a mister to the second plant and both seemed very happy throughout the day.

Gave both plants the rest of the aerated compost tea I had brewed with a touch of fish & seaweed mixed in.

Pollinated the 1204 Scherber Plant Today with 1810 Stevens

Today I pollinated a female flower on the 1204 Scherber plant with the 1810 Stevens. The 1810 is a male flower from a plant grown from a seed that came from the world record 1,810 pound pumpkin that Chris Stevens grew last year. The female flower was a perfect 5 lobe flower that is at about 12 feet (which is just the right distance from the main stump). It is going to be hot in the pumpkin patch today so I'll have the misters going. I'm hoping this pollination takes because the timing, position and distance is just ideal.

If this pumpkin grows well and becomes my keeper (I only grow one pumpkin per plant) then I will name it Ricky (i.e. Ricky Gervais). Pictured below is the 868 Johnson followed by the 1204 Scherber.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pumpkin Porn & The Truth About Pollination

Much was made on the show yesterday about pumpkin pollination. Most giant pumpkin growers don't let the bees do the pollination because they want to control the genetics. One of the reasons the world record 1810 pound pumpkin is in existence is because pumpkin growers have been breeding the pumpkins to get bigger and bigger.


The term "pumpkin porn" was first penned by my wife in one of her popular mommy blogs (it was one of her most popular blog posts ever). Although it didn't have much to do with pollination it is one of the things that my wife likes to give me a hard time about because I always tell her that we can't do the family vacations around pollination time.



You may want to overt your eyes because tomorrow (I wouldn't be suprised to see Ricky Gervais peaking over the fence. I'm guessing he is a watcher.) is pollination day for the 1204 Scherber plant. Today I got some male flowers from a local grower who has a 1810 Stevens pumpkin plant (a plant grown from a seed taken from the World Record 1,810 pound pumpkin). If the pollination takes then the pumpkin will start growing and at the end of the season I hope to have some great pumpkin seeds with the genetics from the 1810 plant and my 1204 plant mixed together.


I gave the plants some foliar compost tea today along with some CalCarb and calcium.

I Was Robbed!

I'm not for mother-in-laws staying at your house for 6 months, but come on. How does someone who cleans your house beat out giant pumpkins?

Thanks for everyones kind comments. We hammed it up for the show and had a lot of fun doing it. Back to tending pumpkin #1 (Jerry) and pumpkin #2 (Ricky).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Welcome to The Pumpkin Man's, from NBC's The Marriage Ref, Giant Pumpkin Blog

I'm really looking forward to the premier episode of The Marriage Ref tonight. Although I've seen our package that was filmed at our home in Denver I haven't seen the segment that was filmed on stage in New York last December. The whole The Marriage Ref experience was a lot of fun. People have asked me, after seeing the show promos, about Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais and Julianne Moore and I can honestly say they were all great to be with.

Visit www.facebook.com/giantpumpkins during the show at 9:00 MST for live comments during the show from myself and my good wife Amber to get the inside, back stage scoop on the show.

Want to take a try at growing a giant pumpkin? Follow this pumpkin blog to get regular updates on my two pumpkins I'm growing this year (one pumpkin is named Jerry and the other is named Ricky) and get tips and advice on growing big pumpkins. Visit the pumpkin seed store if you are looking for competition giant pumpkins seeds and take your try at growing a world-record pumpkin!

Want to Grow a Giant Pumpkin? Get Giant Pumpkin Seeds from The Pumpkin Man!

Have you ever wanted to grow a giant pumpkin? Does the thought of having a 300 pound jack-o-lantern sound like fun to you? Looking for a great outdoor hobby for you and the kids/grandchildren? I can help! To grow a true giant pumpkin takes the right seeds and the right techniques. Grow the same competition giant pumpkin seeds I grow by getting seeds, special soil amendments and pumpkin growing training DVDs from my pumpkin seed store. Use the same stuff that world-record holder pumpkin growers use and have a lot of fun doing it!

After starting your seeds get great advice on growing giant pumpkins from the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers.

Common Questions from Friends About Being on The Marriage Ref

Q: How did you get on The Marriage Ref?


A: My wife Amber was listening to the radio and one of the DJs was on the show last year and she mentioned that The Marriage Ref was in town doing auditions. She didn’t think much of it at first but then thought, “Pumpkins!” She has complained for years about the amount of time I spend in the patch. When she got home she shot off an email and within an hour had a reply back asking if we could go to a local mall at 2:00 the next day. We went in and did a 30 minute on camera interview and when we were done the auditioner turned off the camera and said with a smile, “I’ve never seen anything like it. We have got to get you on this show.”


For those of you who don't know Amber she is a fire plug. She is a popular mommy blogger that runs The Denver Post's Mommy Blog milehighmamas.com here in Denver. Last year she was Microsoft's official blogger at the Winter Olympic games and is the love of my life.


Q: When did you do the taping?


A: They taped us at our house for 10 hours the first week of December. Wasn’t easy having a pumpkin that was picked in October available in December for the show but we pulled it off. We then headed to New York for the studio taping mid-December.


Q: What was being on the show like?


A: It was a great experience. The crew was awesome. The other couples were great to hand out with. It seemed that all of the crew had seen our package prior to us arriving and lots of people were coming up to me asking questions about giant pumpkin growing. It was a lot of fun!


Q: What were the celebrities like to be with?


A: We didn’t see the celebrities until we went out on stage. We were back stage and the DJ over the PA system said, “Is everyone ready to meet The Pumpkin Man? The crowd went crazy. It was a little intimidating. Then they came back from commercial break, made the introductions and then we walked out on stage waving to the audience. It was a strange to sit down and look up to see faces that were so familiar. It was even stranger for them to call me by name; asking lots of questions about pumpkins. Usually people (aka Amber) are telling me to shut up about the pumpkins, but this was truly heaven. After the show we had an opportunity to shake hands with all of the celebrities and then do some quick photo shoots with them. I was told that usually Jerry doesn’t do pictures and this was the only episode he took the time to do that.


Q: How much of the show was scripted?


A: Almost nothing. During the taping at the house sometimes the director would tell you to say something and sometimes I would do it and other times I would just simply say, “I’m not going to say that” and they wouldn’t argue. On stage nothing was scripted. We didn’t know what was going to be asked and although we met with a writer to talk about “strategy” before going on stage it was our own words on stage.


Q: What did you do after the show?


A: We were so pumped up after the show that we walked around New York for hours. The truth was that we wanted to walk for the first hour. The second and third hour was mostly walking around trying to find a late night bite to eat. The city that never sleeps proves challenging when you are trying to find a restaurant at 11:00pm.


Q: What is the story with this Pumpkin Blog


A: I write this blog just as much for myself as for other newer giant pumpkin growers. On a weekly basis you can follow my pumpkin plants from patch prep time to harvest. I pretty much tell you everything I do to grow a giant pumpkin. Often I'll go back to my blog to see what I gave the plants and how much I gave them so I can keep track of things and see what is working and what is not. I like to call it the biggest giant pumpkin blog in the world. Feel free to leave a comment on any post and usually I'll get back to you within 24 hours with a comment of my own.


Q: How big is the world-record giant pumpkin?


A: 1810 pounds! Grown last year Chris Stevens.


Q: What happens now?


A: I am open to sponsorships, speaking engagements, commercials and I do give autographs. LOL


If all of that doesn't pan out then I’ll continue to grow my giant pumpkins (got two beautiful plants going right now--come to Jared's Nursery in Denver for the weigh-off the last Saturday in September and say hi), play with my kids, love my wife and run my business as a founder of a website design and online marketing firm that caters to small and medium sized businesses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fighting for Our Pumpkin Rights on NBC's The Marriage Ref

Every couple has their differences. In many ways it can be healthy. If this is your first time reading this blog then you may not know that I have a passion for growing big pumpkins (wife calls it an "obsession"). This sport is not easy. It takes, time, knowledge, time, effort, time and a little luck to grow a giant pumpkin. I spend about an hour a day in the pumpkin patch tending to my two plants. My beloved wife would tell you five.

This last fall we were given the opportunity to air our dirty laundry to a few million of our closest friends across America on NBC's The Marriage Ref. Our episode will be on the premier show airing on NBC on Sunday, June 26th. Check your local listings but in most areas The Marriage Ref will be on around 9:00 or 10:00 in the evening.

The show was a great experience for both the winner and the loser and we greatly look forward to the premier. I did my best to fight for gardeners and giant pumpkin growers everywhere who "spend to much time in the patch." Get real time Facebook comments during the show on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/giantpumpkins.

Get giant pumpkin seeds from The Pumpkin Man at the online pumpkin seed store.

Some CalCarb for the Pumpkin Plants Today

I gave both of my plants some CalCarb this evening. CalCarb is a micronized calcium product that you spray foliar on the leaves. The idea is that as the calcium breaks down it produces carbon dioxide which helps with photosynthesis. The other thing that it does is change the structure of the leaf slightly which seems to help with heat stress. We have some warm days coming up in Denver so I usually like to try to put some CalCarb on the leaves about every two weeks, particularly prior to a heat wave.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Game Over & Compost Tea with a Little Seaweed Today

I went and saw Joe Scherber's pumpkin patch today. I love visiting Joe's patch and hate it. Joe has a great setup and is always more than willing to share his depth of knowledge but his plants always look so good that it makes you want to cash it in. For the most part my plants are on par with Joe's. I started a little later than him this year but our plants are generally about the same size except for one. His 1725 Harp plant is a beast. If it can grow pumpkins like it can grow salad it is game over this year.

Today I did a lot of vine burying on my two pumpkin plants. Vine burying helps keep the vines from twisting in the wind and more importantly encourages root growth at the leaf nodes.

This evening I game my plants some compost tea with some seaweed in it. Some studies have shown that the hormones in seaweed can help with flowering on plants. A new female flower showed up today on the 1204 Scherber pumpkin plant at a nice spot on the main vine so in about 1.5 weeks I hope to have a pumpkin growing on that plant.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sing Along! I'm The Pumpkin Man, The Pumpkin Man

Watch Jerry Seinfeld serenade me with The Pumpkin Man song on NBC's The Marriage Ref.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little More Nutri-Cal and A Touch of Calcium Nitrate

Gave the pumpkin plants some foliar Nutri-Cal and some grandulas of calcium nitrate today. Cooler temperatures are coming and I want to keep the growth going and I want to get the plants full of calcium.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Bunch of Biology for the Pumpkin Patch

Today I added a mess of beneficial bacteria and fungi into the pumpkin patch. With a hose end sprayer I covered all 900 square feet of patch with 9 tablespoons of Azos, 8 tablespoons of Actinovate and a half of a tablet of Biotamax. These beneficial probiotics when added to the soil and leaves can help kill bad bacteria and fungi, increase root mass and fix nitrogen into the soil. After spraying whole whole patch down I watered the patch for an hour to get everything down to the root zone. Does it work? The studies say yes and the world-record giant pumpkin grower used a mess of this stuff in his patch last year.

If you are looking for a great giant pumpkin kit to get your patch going check out my online pumpkin store.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Female Flowers of the Season

The first females flower showed up on the 868 Johnson pumpkin plant today. We should start growing pumpkins during the next two weeks! Hurray!

The female flowers look different then the male flowers. The females have a little pumpkin at the base of the flower petals while the male flowers just have a straight stem all the way up the the petals.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

1204 Scherber

868 Johnson

I gave both plants a touch of Nutri-Cal (calcium nitrate) tonight. The calcium in Nutri-Cal is supposed to be better absorbed than some of calcium forms. Got word today that our episode of The Marriage Ref is going to air at 9:00pm in Denver on June 26th today.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

As Seen on TV...The Pumpkin Man Goes National!


video

A little teaser of Jamie 'The Pumpkin Man' Johnson on NBC. Watch The Marriage Ref on June 26th!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last Till of the Pumpkin Patch Before the Hoop Houses Come Off

Today I did the final till of the pumpkin patch before taking off the hoop houses. I put down 10 pounds of gypsum for calcium, 4 pounds of magnesium, 3 pounds of blood meal, 3 pounds of sugar and 4 pounds of corn meal meal before I tilled the patch. In the early spring I tilled about half of the patch in the planting areas so I tilled the rest of the patch today staying at least 6 feet away from the plants so not to destroy any roots. I like to do it this way because the soil tends to get a little compacted and crusty on the top by this point of the season from walking around and rain. Colorado's clay soils can get like cement if you let them.

From this point forward I will try to only walk on my walking boards to keep the soil from getting overly compacted for the rest of the season. This helps keeps air in the soil, makes it easier for the roots to grow and allows the water to drain better.

I also gave the plants some compost tea today made with alfalfa pellets, worm castings, humic acid, corn meal and liquid fish & seaweed.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hot One in Denver Today

It is supposed to get to 94 degrees today in Denver. Anything above about 91 degrees pretty much shuts pumpkin plants down growth wise because the plant is just trying to keep up the evaporative transpiration going on. When the pumpkins are growing you will see 1/2 inch of growth during the daytime when it is above 91 degrees and see 2-3 inches at night. Colorado's hot days and cool nights aren't ideal for growing giant pumpkins so you have to try to create an environment that makes them think they are in Iowa or Ohio.
I have a 14% shade hail netting cloth over my patch. That helps reduce the heat a little in the patch and reduce Denver's leaf damaging high UV rays. I also have the sprinkler system set on a timer so the plants get misted throughout the day so the leaves get cooled off and the humidity is a little higher.
Since my plants aren't quite ready to come out of the hoop houses I've covered the hoop houses with white sheets to help reduce the heat and I have the hoop houses fully opened up today.

Friday, June 3, 2011

And Then There Was One

Every year I put two plants in each hoop house. This is to help insure that I have a good plant to grow and if one dies (or three as the early part of this season went) I will still have another plant to grow. Today I made the final cuts (literally) of the plants. In hoop house one is the 868 Johnson (1161 Rodonis x 1544 Revier). In hoop house #2 is the 1204 Scherber (1421 Stelts x 1725 Harp). A big thanks to those who gave me seeds/plants that didn't make it.

The following are the latest pics from the pumpkin patch. First is the 868 and the second is the 1204 plant. Both have been growing very well lately. Gave both plants some compost tea with a touch of blood meal in it and humic acid.


My wife saw a post saying that a certain pumpkin grower's TV show may be on June 26th on national TV. If you see a promo with an ugly guy that would be me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Some Good Growth These Last Few Days on the Pumpkin Plants

Amazing what a little warmth can do to get some vines growing. I'm still behind where I should be but the pumpkin plants are taking advantage of some better weather and are growing quickly right now. The 868 plant is the biggest so far, but the 1204 has kicked it up two notches lately so it will be interesting to see if it can catch it. The 1308 is a good looking plant but the slowest of the three. In the next two days I'm going to have to go down to two plants. Some tough decisions will have to be made.

The kids are growing the 1084. This plant has never greened up properly. Growth has been slower than the other three and it has never seemed happy. The kids have been doing a good job of taking care of it (other than when they had the spray a little two hard on the plant the other day) but even when it was in the pot it was a bit lime green.