Saturday, June 30, 2012

Soil Drench of Good Bacteria & Fungi for Pumpkin Plants

Today I did a soil drench with Biotamax, Azos and Actinovate on both pumpkin plants.  As I've talked about before, the idea is to overwhelm the bad bacteria with good bacteria and fungi such as trichoderma to make sure the soil food web is properly feeding the plants.  In late June in Colorado the soils are warm enough to get bad fungi and bacteria such as fusarium going which can kill or harm your plants.  I used a quarter tablet of Biotamax on each pumpkin plant along with a 1/2 tablespoon of Azos and Actinovate.  I also gave the plants some foliar compost tea.

I'm going to till the last of the patch now.  It will be good to finally have that done.

Latest pictures from the patch:

1789 Wallace is Looking Good

1451 Finally Getting the Side Vines Going after the Original Main Termination

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pollinated the 1451 Scherber Pumpkin Plant this Morning

I pollinated the 1451 pumpkin plant this morning at about 11 feet on the main vine.  A nice 5 lobe flower.  The pollen was from another beautiful 1451 plant that Joe Scherber has.  I'll keep pollinating but I'm hoping this pollination and the one on the 1789 will be my keepers.  I'm concerned however about the 1789 pollination that is at about 13 feet.  We are only day 5 but there hasn't been very much obvious growth so I'm not sure that pollination has taken.  Time will tell.

Gave the plants some foliar Lithovit and Big Bloom this evening.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Some Better Weather & Hopefully Some Giant Pumpkins

The following is the pumpkin on the 1789 Wallace plant.  It has grown some and is still shiny which is a good sign.  The weather was a little more normal today in Colorado with a touch of light rain this afternoon which felt good.  The picture of the female flower is the one in a very good spot on the 1451 Scherber plant.  This one will open on Friday and hopefully is ready to grow.

I gave the plants some foliar magnesium this evening.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dan Micros & Some Fertilizer for the Giant Pumpkin Plants

This evening I gave a little foliar calcium, fish & seaweed and Big Bloom for the pumpkin plants.  Even with this extreme heat the plants are still growing relatively quickly.  Yesterday we tied an all time record of 105 degrees in Denver.  Today Denver hit 105 degrees again but I don't think it ever got quite that hot at the pumpkin patch.  Some early clouds I believe kept us a few degrees cooler.  The pumpkin plants seemed happier today anyway.

Maybe it was the new Dan Micro sprinklers that made the plants happy.  Yesterday and today were the first days that I've fully run them.  As you can see in the pictures below they sit low to the ground which allows you to water under the leaf canopy reducing dry spots which has been a big problem for me in the past.  I've always had cracked ground under the larger leaves where the over head sprinklers couldn't get under the umbrellas.  Thanks to Thad Starr and Gary Grande for the tips on how to set it all up.

The 1789 seems to be growing.  It is lying down on the ground today.  We will know in the next 7 days if it is going to take.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Operation Keep It Cool

Hot again in Denver today and the plants are feeling it some.  Today will be the 3rd day in a row over 100 degrees with more to come.  It is also very windy today.  In this picture you can see where the female flower is located under the solar blanket to help keep it cool.  Next to the pumpkin is a frozen milk jug.  Been misting the plants every 5 minutes for 30 seconds.

This evening I gave the plants some compost tea with Big Bloom and molasses in it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Controlled Cross Pumpkin Pollination

I pollinated the 1789 Wallace female flower that is at about 12 feet on the main vine at 6:00am this morning.  The night before I put a netted bag over the flower to make sure nothing else (i.e. bees) could pollinate the flower.  I then took four male 1789 Wallace flowers from another plant and took the petals off of them and gently rubbed the pollen off onto the lobes of the female.  The female was pretty much a perfectly shaped 6 lobe flower.  After pollinating the flower I put a rubber band on the petals to close the flower back up to keep the pollen dry and then put the netting back on he flower.  In the next couple of days I hope to see some growth in the little pumpkin at the bottom of the petals and to see the pumpkin get shiny and stay shiny.  At about 7-10 days if the pumpkin is still growing and nice and shiny then you know the pollination has taken and that the pumpkin is most likely not going to abort.

Gave the plants some foliar humic acid with a touch of seaweed this evening.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hot in the Pumpkin Patch

There is nothing more to say about today and the next 5 days other than it is HOT.  One hundred degrees today in Denver and more to come.  That can only mean one thing.  Pollination time.  If one day is 80 degrees and the next day is 100 degrees then the flower is going to open for me on the 100 degree day.  It has pretty much been that way every year for years.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 101 degrees and the next day 100 and the day after that it is going to be 101 degrees and the perfect flower on the 1789 plant is going to open tomorrow.  This is going to be the toughest pollination I've ever done because of the weather and this female is in the perfect spot so hopefully it will take.  I'm going to try everything I know to do to make that happen.  Frequent misting of the plants, frozen milk containers next to the flower, shade for the flower and extra water for the plants.  The good news is that 5 females showed up on the side vines this morning so that is telling me the plant is ready to start growing pumpkins so hopefully this one will take.

I'll be crossing the 1789 Wallace with flowers from a 1789 Wallace that Joe Scherber has.  His "Freak" as they call it looks just like mine with a lot of the same characteristics of mama so I'm liking this cross.

There is a female on the main of the 1451 that is in a great spot that should be opening around July 2nd.  If that one looks good and takes then we should be in business for this year.

I gave the plants this evening some Lithovit with a small touch of Big Bloom as a foliar application.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pollination Time & a Little More Fertilizer

Over the next ten days I'll be pollinating pumpkins on the main vine on both plants. During pollination time you don't want to give the plants much nitrogen or any to help make sure the pollinations take. Tonight I gave the plants some foliar fish & seaweed. Only about 3 teaspoons per plant with about a tablespoon per plant of organic Big Bloom. For the last couple days I've been setting up my Dan Micro spinkler system. With the Dan Micros I'll be able to get more even watering under the leaf canopy and get rid of the dry spots. I'm almost half way done and look forward to get it going.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Some Compost Tea, Seaweed & Calcium

I gave the plants 5 gallons of compost tea this morning along with some liquid seaweed. I noticed a little leaf burn today on the new leaves on the 1451 plant. Misting got turned off for about an hour yesterday and they must have got burnt then.

Some nice, cool weather in Colorado today.  Tomorrow is going to be seasonal at about 84 degrees and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday are going to be screaming hot.  I'll be pollinating the 1789 on Friday of course.  It seems like every year I pollinate only on the hottest of days.

This evening I gave the plants some foliar metasolate calcium.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Little Fertilizer & a Lot of Water

This evening I gave the pumpkin plants some foliar magnesium and humic acid and today I gave the plants a lot of water for the 2nd day in a row.  Not quite as hot in Denver today (96 degrees) as yesterday (101 degrees) but more windy.  That makes it the third day in a row with high temperatures.  Tomorrow we will get a little break from the heat and then we will be back into it again.  I have a female that on the 1789 Wallace that will probably open on Thursday at about 11 feet.  It is the only female that has showed up on that plant so I need to make this one count.  It is a little early for pollination, especially since I expect it to be a hot summer which will ripen the fruit faster, but I don't have any choice.  I'm just going to hope for another female to show up over the next 10 days.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Windy & Hot Father's Day

Happy Father's day to you!  A hot and windy day here in Denver.  It is hard to give the pumpkin plants enough water on days like today.

I sprayed one tablet of Biotamax, a tablespoon on Azos and 3/4 of a cup of molasses on the patch.   I finished tilling all but 80% of the patch yesterday.  Tilling is hard on the soil and in some ways hard on the biology in the soil.  The biology tends to get beaten up in the tilling process but the new air introduced into the soil and the mixing of nutrients tends to create a spike in biological activity after the tilling.  In my mind it makes sense to spray down some Biotamax and Azos after tilling to make sure the soil is overwhelmed with good biology after the tilling.

I also put down molasses with the spray for a similar reason.  The sugars in the molasses should get the bacteria really going which helps release nutrients such as calcium.  I also have a lot of cover crop and weeds that were tilled under and the molasses will help those materials break down more quickly.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pictures of the 1789 Wallace & 1451 Scherber Giant Pumpkin Plants

Both pumpkin plants are growing very nicely right now and both are ahead of any plants I've grown in the past.  One of the reasons I started this pumpkin blog was to be able to make notes as to what I've been fertilizing the plants with and when and refer to pictures from previous weeks to see how the plants are growing.  It is also nice to be able to go back to past photos of the plants and see where I am at in comparison to previous years.  These are my plants at about this time last year:

These are the plants from about two years ago:

My plants this year were started a few days later than the previous years and it looks like I'm way ahead of last year and about the same as were I was at two years ago.

1789 Wallace Today

1789 Wallace from 4 days previous

1451 Scherber today

It is interesting to see the difference in growth on the 1789 plant.  It really took off the last four days.

I gave the plants some organic Metalosate Calcium and Lithovit (similar to CalCarb) this evening to help the plants deal with the upcoming heat in Denver next week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Disney & The 1789 Wallace is Really Taking Off

We interrupt this pumpkin growing season for a little family fun vacation.  I was in Disneyland the last three days on a special media trip for the grand opening for Disney's new Cars Land.  Disney pulled out all of the stops for the trip, even shutting down the California Adventures park just for the media on Thursday.  After one of the rides I heard the words that every Disney visitor wants to hear at the end of a ride.  "Sir, would you like to stay on and go again?"

The new Radiator Springs Speed Racer ride is completely amazing!  I went on it three times. 

Radiator Springs Raceway Ride
A big thanks to Joe Scherber for watching my plants while I was out of town.  He must have done a good job because both of the plants look great.  I was only gone for three days but the 1789 Wallace plant really took off while I was gone.  The side vines are finally getting their grow on and the main is still going fast as ever.  A female showed up at about 11 feet while I was gone.  It is green so it looks like this pumpkin is going to be white.

I gave the plants some fish & seaweed along with a a little NutraCal today.

The complete Radiator Springs Speed Racer ride on Video is below.  The ride opened for the public today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lots of Water and Some fish, Seaweed & Compost Tea for The Pumpkin Plants

Early this morning I gave my pumpkin plants some compost tea, fish & seaweed with about 3/4 cup of organic Big Bloom.  That should make the plants happy for a couple of days.  I'm going to increase the watering on the plants this week.  I noticed that the patch seemed a little drier than I could prefer when I was tilling the patch.  I didn't use the sprinklers on the plants at all yesterday because I knew I would be tilling but I expected it to be a little more moist deeper down then it was.  It has been very dry in Colorado this year.

No females have shown up so far on the 1789 plant yet.  Tom says that the 1725 Harp (the mother of the 1789) tends to not throw a lot of females and they can be difficult to get the pollinations to take.  He should know.  He grew thirty 1725 Harp plants last year.  The main on this plant is growing really fast right now and in the next 2 weeks or so it is going to run out of space so I'm hoping a female shows up in the next 3-4 days.

Latest pictures from the patch are below.  The 1789 is about 10 feet long now.  The 1451 is about 8 1/2 feet long:
1789 Wallace

1451 Scherber

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tilling, Again!

I tilled more of the patch today.  Growth of the main vine on the 1789 plant has been super fast the last three days so I'm trying to stay ahead of it.  I got done what I needed to today but about a third of the patch still needs to be tilled.  That will be completed next week and the Dan Micro sprinkler system will go in at that time.

A few days ago the first female flower showed up on the 1451 plant.  Very round pumpkin, like a bowling ball.  No females have showed up on the 1789.  I hope one shows up in the next four days.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tom Beachy in the Pumpkin Patch

Giant pumpkin grower Tom Beachy of Indiana and his wife Megan stopped by the pumpkin patch today. Tom is a long time grower well known for the number of plants he grows (something close to 500 this year). He makes my passion look like a weekend warrior's hobby. Tom was in town for a wedding and decided to do a little patch tour. It was great to spend some time with both he and his wife and talk pumpkins. The TLC TV channel contacted me this last week and wanted me to be on a show they are doing but I've decided to turn them down. Two days is a lot of time away from my website design business and although it would be a lot of fun I have too much going on right now to do it. Maybe next time.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Good & the Bad of Visiting Another Grower's Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday I visited two giant pumpkin growers' patches.  It is always fun to sit around and talk pumpkins with other growers and see what they have going.  The Wiz is even kind enough to offer food and beverage for the visit which is really nice.  The downside of visiting other patches is the pumpkin envy that can ensue.  Don't get me wrong, I am satisfied with where my plants are at right now but when you see another grower's plants (and/or pumpkin) and they are nearly twice as big as yours then it can do you some good and some bad.  The good is that you can see what the growers are doing and start incorporating it into your own pumpkin growing program.  The bad is that it can get you off your own program, make you over fertilize and make you less patient.  Slow and steady wins the race in giant pumpkin growing.  It is easy to pour on the nitrogen to get a big plant, but that doesn't always translate into a big pumpkin.

What I pulled away from yesterday's patch visits is that when your main is growing nicely but the side vines aren't doing much then it is time to put a little blood meal down (which I gave the plants a touch more of today).  That hail netting in Colorado is a must.  And that you should never be on the pointy end of a gun when the grower can tell which is the trigger and which is the safety.

In addition to the blood meal I also gave the plants and the patch some compost tea with a descent amount of humic acid in it.  The plants got some of the compost tea but most of it was put down around the patch so that I cam make sure there is a bunch of good biology on the outer edges of the root zone.  I want to make sure those roots are growing as much as they can right now before I start growing pumpkins.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CalCarb, Magnesium & Batten Down the Hatches!

This afternoon I gave the plants some foliar CalCarb and magnesium.  The next couple of days are supposed to be warm and the CalCarb should help with that a little.  I also added a few extra clips to the hail netting today.  Lots of talk of bad storms this afternoon and evening so I want to be ready.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1451 Scherber & 1789 Wallace Pumpkin Plant Pictures

These are the latest pictures from the pumpkin patch.  The plants are a little wind whipped from yesterday but doing okay.  The color is very good for both plants and they are still growing well.  Lost the main on the 1451 plant in a hoop house accident so I am now training a side vine as the new main vine.  These pictures don't show it, but the 1789 has really big leaves.  Did a little tilling in the patch yesterday.  Hope to get the rest tilled this week.
1451 Scherber

1789 Wallace

The Pumpkin Patch Under the Hail Netting

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Windy, Windy and Some More Wind

Note to self:  when checking the weather report to see if you should remove the hoop houses make sure to also check the wind report.  Strong winds here in Denver today and the plants are looking a little wind whipped as a result.  I have silt fences around the plants to protect them but they can only do so much. 

I gave the plants some calcium and fish and seaweed today.  I'll be giving the plants some foliar calcium on a weekly basis from this point forward.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Lost the end of the main vine on the 1451 today.  When moving the hoop house off the plant it must have got snagged and the the vine cracked.  A real bummer but not the end of the world.  I'm just going to take a side vine and turn it into the main vine and in two weeks you won't even know that it happened.  The bummer however is that I've had this happen before and I know what happens.  The first side vines will start becoming the sink and they will take off and the new main vine will be kind of slow to grow over the next week which will delay my pollination a little.

Hoop Houses Come off Today

Both of the pumpkin plants have overgrown their hoop houses this weekend and so they will be removed today.  When you remove the hoop houses you want to make sure the vines are buried and staked down (I use bamboo stakes) so that winds don't rip your plants apart.  This week Denver is going to be having above normal temperatures all week so yesterday I programmed my mister timer so I can keep the plants happy.  The leaves on the plants will be misted a minimum of once every 30 minutes from 10:30am to 5:00pm and a little more frequently from 1:00 to 4:00.  This is the best that my timer can do and it is adequate for days below 95 degrees.  Above that temperature it isn't quite enough so this year I'm going to try watering during the hottest part of the day to keep the plants cooler on really hot days and I suppose we will see a lot of those this summer.

I gave the plants some compost tea this morning made with 3/4 of a cup of earthworm castings from my bins, an old leaf, alfalfa pellets, big bloom fertilizer, tablespoon of molasses, tablespoon of humic acid and a teaspoon of liquid seaweed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hail Netting is Up and We Are Ready to GROW

Yesterday my father-in-law and myself put up the hail netting over the patch.  The 1451 plant is now about 4 inches from the end of the hoop house so it will be coming off tomorrow or Monday.  The 1789 has kind of hit a new growth phase.  The leaves have gotten real big on that plant and it will be coming out of the hoop house on Monday or Tuesday. 

Today I got my rototiller fixed so next week I'll be tilling up the rest of the patch.  I've got my Dan Micro sprinkler heads in the mail this week so I'll be installing that sprinkler system next week.  There is a great writeup that Thad Starr did on the Dan Micro sprinkler system on his website that I helped him build a few years ago.  With the Dan Micros sprinklers I should get much better coverage under the leaf canopy. 

This afternoon I put down some compost, grass clippings, humic acid, blood meal and Bio-Sol fertilizer in the new areas of the pumpkin patch.  That soil is nearly completely virgin soil so it doesn't have a lot of nutrients but that extra 60 square feet should hopefully add some better growth to the pumpkin late in the season.

Yesterday my wife, father-in-law and myself put in a gate to the pumpkin patch.  Juliann Moore, if you area reading, I hope you are happy now.