Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foliar Feeding Pumpkin Plants this Evening

I gave both pumpkin plants some Neptune's fish & seaweed this evening.  Using a pump sprayer I sprayed the leaves of the plants and also the ground around the plants.  In total it was probably almost a tablespoon of fertilizer per plant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Down to One Pumpkin Plant in Each Hoop House Now

I took out the 335 Scherber and the second 1451 Scherber pumpkin plants this morning so we are down to one plant in each hoop house now.  My keeper 1451 plant is growing very quickly and will be to the end of the hoop house by probably the end of the week.  I think this is the fast growing plant that I've ever had.  The 1789 is a little slower in growth but is looking healthier these days and seems to have kicked it into gear.  The following are pictures of each plant:

1451 Scherber

1789 Wallace

 Gave the plants some more compost tea today.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fast Pumpkin Plant Growth, Compost Tea & Seaweed

This evening I gave the pumpkin plants some aerated compost tea that has been brewing for two days along with about two tablespoons of seaweed and molasses.  Seaweed contains a complex matrix of natural plant growth stimulants, including gibberellins, auxins, betraines and cytokinins. These are the factors that influence cell elongation, differentiation, and cell division. It is also rich in naturally chelated minerals and trace elements, carbohydrates, vitamins, and amino acids.  Aerated compost tea is teeming with billions of beneficial microorganisms that can be applied directly to the leaf surface of a plant as a foliar spray or used as a soil drench to improve root systems.  I did both this evening.

The 1451 Scherber has been growing very quickly this last week.  At it's present rate it will be growing out of the hoop house by the later part of this week.  It is a good problem to have and the aggressiveness of it's mom is one of the reasons that I choose to grow this seed but it does present some minor problems.  Spring in Colorado tends to be windy and the hoop house nicely protects the plant right now so the plant getting out of the hoop house early does open it up to some potential problems.  The other problem is that I'm going to be putting in a Dan Micro sprinkler system very soon but the plant is about a week ahead of me so I'm going to have to kick it into high gear to get the watering system completed.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Swamping the Pumpkin Plants with Beneficial Bacteria & Fungi

Since I started growing giant pumpkins I've been using compost tea and beneficial bacteria like myco to help build the root system and build the soil.  Three years ago I started using beneficial bacteria in my fertilizer program as well to help protect the plants and build the soil food web.  Even five years ago there wasn't a lot of beneficial bacteria products on the market and what was available was kind of expensive.  Now for just a few bucks you can treat the entire pumpkin patch and your lawn.

Today I drenched a 10 square foot area around my pumpkin plants with half a stick of Supreme Growers Soil Blast.  Supreme Growers, a Colorado company, is a sponsor of the RMGVG and we got some samples of their products at the spring meeting.  Soil blast contains 7 billion beneficial bacteria, probiotics, fungi and biostimulants in a 7 gram stick that has 4-0-8 organic fertilizer.  Along with the Soil Blast I put in two tablespoons of Azos and a half tablespoon on Actinovate.  I first drenched the plants with just the Actinovate because I wanted it on the leaves and then drenched with the Azos and Soil Blast mixture.  The hope and the expectation is that these products will overwhelm the soil with good bacteria and fungi so that the bad bacteria and fungi can't get out of control.  I also expect it to help protect the plants, fix nitrogen in the soil that will feed the plants and build the soil food web.  All of that should mean bigger pumpkins come September.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Little Calcium, Turbinado Sugar & Blood Meal for the Pumpkin Patch

This morning I put down 4lbs of turbinado sugar, 25oz of Soil Logic calcium and about two pounds of blood meal over my 950 square feet of pumpkin patch.  Last year I put down the turbinado sugar in the spring after talking to a gentleman whom I gave some pumpkin seeds to that claimed he had a great looking lawn because he put down sugar on his lawn in the spring.  I had been using molasses in my compost tea for years and the idea of sugar in the pumpkin patch made some sense to me.  I found a number of online discussions for and against adding sugar but the kicker was after reading an article by John Taberna at Western Laboratories, whom I have a lot of respect for, that talked about how adding sugar to the soil can help make calcium more available to the plants.  I've known for a long time how sugar can get the soil biology going so after reading that article I decided to give it a try.

I used tubinado sugar rather than refined regular table sugar because it has more complex sugars in it and my theory is that would be better liked by the soil biology.  I was pleased to hear that world record holder Jim Bryson put maple syrup down on his patch almost all season and his 1,818 pounds of results speak for themselves.

My soil tests this spring came back showing my calcium was at a good place but getting a little more in the patch doesn't hurt so I.m trying a new substance.  Liquid Gypsum by Soil Logic is a calcium substance that you spray to put down.   It is 25% calcium chloride which isn't my favorite form of calcium but I thought I would give it a try because putting down a ton of gypsum to get just a little calcium doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.  I sprayed down the calcium after adding the sugar and blood meal.  My patch needed a little more nitrogen and nitrogen uptake is increased in plants when calcium chloride is added so putting all of these down at the same time made sense to me.

Calcium is maybe one of the least appreciated minerals in the soil.  Fertilizer companies always talk about NPK but in fact calcium is the king of the nutrients.

The 1451 Scherber plant's main vine laid down on the ground today.  This is the earliest that I've had a plant get a vine down and I started my seeds a couple of days later than I traditionally have in the past. Hopefully this plant can grow pumpkins like it's mama and it's papa. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

Pictured below are my 4 pumpkin plants.  The first plant is the 1451 Scherber.  The vine on this plants should be lying down by the end of the week.  I'm planning on keeping this plant and taking the other plant out.  The next picture is the 1789 Wallace.  I also plan on keeping this plant.  Other than the light green leaf color I also like this plant.  On the bottom row are my backup plants.  The first is the 335 Scherber andnext is the other 1451.  The other 1451 is actually my fastest grower of all of the plants but it is a bit of wuss in the sun and it is going to be a pain to get it's vine to lay down so I'll be going with the other plant.  The plants are maybe 4 or 5 days ahead of last years plants in growth so I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Feeding Time for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I gave my pumpkin plants their first fertilizer of the season.  I mixed one tablespoon of Fox Forms Organic Big Bloom with a pinch of blood meal and humic acid in about two gallons of water to help the plants growth a little.  Pretty much a spoon feeding at this point.  In another week I'll start feeding the plants a little higher doses and more regularly.  At this point I want the plants to focus on growing more roots than salad.  If you give the plants to much nitrogen early it will put most of its energy into growing vines but the root system will be under developed and you need that root system to grow a giant pumpkin.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Little CalCarb Before the Heat

This evening I gave a little CalCarb to my pumpkin plants. Tomorrow it is going to be about 94 degrees in Denver and the CalCarb should help with the heat. To this point in the season I haven't given the plants any fertilizers. Basically just some compost tea and a fair amount of water. A well prepared soil should have everything in it that the plant needs at this point. Tomorrow I may give the plants a light foliar fertilizer and a small touch of blood meal to help get the plants going a little.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Update from the Pumpkin Patch

This is kind of the boring time of the year.  When you first put your pumpkin plants in the ground they tend to grow kind of slow and there isn't a whole lot to talk about other than a new leaf or two appearing.  While the plants transition from the pot to their home in the soil it sometimes takes them a little while to wire in and get going.  About the first week of June is when they tend to take off again. All of my plants are vining now but the vines aren't on the ground yet.  I'm guessing that at about this time next week we may have the vines down.

Joe Scherber was good enough to come by and take a look at my plants late this morning.  Three of the seeds I'm growing came from him so I wanted his input to see what genetic characteristics are showing on each plant.  That information will help me as I make my decision in the next week or two as to which plants I want to go with.  As I've mentioned before I have two plants in each hoop house.  Unless something happens it looks like I'm going to go with the non-droopy 1451 Scherber in the one hoop house and the 1789 Wallace in the other hoop house.  That 1789 plant has really started to impress me.  Nothing seems to bother it and it is the fast grower of the four plants.

My kids put their 924 Johnson plant into it's hoop house today.  Personally I think it might be the best looking plant of all of our plants.  They always do a great job with their pumpkin plants.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pumpkin Plants are in the Hoop House and in the Ground

I finally finished up the hoop houses yesterday and got the plants in the ground in the evening.  I like to put my plants in the ground in late afternoon because they seem to transition better when they aren't dealing with the bright son and warm weather.  I should have got my plants in the ground about 5 days earlier but when you are running a website business you don't always have the time for pumpkin growing that you would like.

I put in both of the 1451 Scherber plants into one hoop house and put the 335 Scherber and the 1789 Wallace into the other hoop house.  Once the leaves start touching then I'll have to make a decision as to which plant I want to go with and take the other one out.  Up until about 3 days ago I didn't think I would be going with the 1789 plant but it has started to get going lately and when I took the plant out of it's pot I was very impressed with the root system on it.  That plant is 5 days younger than the 335 plant and it had a slightly bigger root system on it.

When I planted the plants I put some myco in the planting holes and then watered the plants with some seaweed, Actinovate, Biotamax and Azos in the water.  The last three items are biologicals that have lots of friendly organisms that will help feed the plant and fight off diseases.

Over the next few days I'll be giving the plants extra water and watching the hoop house temperatures.  Although I hardened the plants off they always have a bit of a struggle dealing with the bright sun, wind and sometimes warmer and cooler temperatures.

335 Scherber (left) 1789 Wallace (right)

1451 Scherber pumpkin plants

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Warming the Soil in the Pumpkin Patch

If I can get my hoop houses (little greenhouses) put together this week I'd like to get my plants in the ground this coming Saturday.  To get the soil heated up in the planting area I've put down clear plastic over the soil to help warm it up.  With the clear plastic, as long as it isn't too hot outside, the soil will warm up to almost 80 degrees which the pumpkin plants will like because they don't care to be transplanted into cold soil.  It has been so warm in Denver that it cold soil shouldn't be a problem this year.