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. 


Jeff Anderson said...

Just found your blog. Have tried to grow giant pumpkins in the past but in my area, Northern CA, I have deer to contend with. The have eaten my past attempts. With my fencing, my patch is somewhat limited. I currently have 4 in the ground, the best of which has a 5 foot main running from it.
I have a few questions if you don't mind helping out a newbie...
1) Do you bury vines (both main or secondaries)? Are there particular places you bury them?
2)Should I be watering the whole plant? I've got a drip system to the where it was planted but something tells me I'll need to get a sprinkler going or something to get water to the whole plant.

Thanks for your help. Don't know how this gets answered yet. My email is

Jeff Anderson

Jamie Johnson said...

Hey Jeff. I do bury the vines. At each leaf node (main and secondaries) a root will come out of the top and bottom of the vine if you bury them so you can add a lot of extra roots by burying the vines. Burying the vines also helps anchor the plant so the vines don't take off like a kite in the wind. You do want to water the entire growing area. The main stump can put out roots on an Atlantic Giant variety pumpkin plant that are 25 feet wide and that is in addition to the roots that will be put out from the vines.