Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hardening Off the Pumpkin Plant

Before putting the pumpkin plant in the ground I'll be hardening off the plant. Many growers do this by putting the plants in the garage at night for a few nights You usually don't have worry about a hard freeze in the garage or frost. Hardening off a plant is important because when a plant isn't hardened off it can have a hard time with cold temperatures or the bright sun. By controlling the temperature you can get the plant ready for the great outdoors in a way that won't hurt the plant.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


These are the seeds that were started earlier.  Another two plants from the 335 Scherber seeds haven't popped through the soil yet.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Pumpkin "Grow Room"

This time of year I clean out my office closet and make it a grow room.  At the bottom of the shelves is a temperature controlled space heater and at the top are four 40 watt florescent bulbs along with three 60 watt equivalent CFL full spectrum bulbs inside of brooders.  This setup seemed to work pretty well for me last year.  You can't have enough wattage, but this seems to be sufficient, along with putting the plants outside on sunny days.

Two of the pumpkin plants (1421 and 1799) have been very vigorous.  I sanded and soaked my seeds on Wednesday and as of today the first true leaf is showing up on both of them now. 

I gave all of the plants a nice drink with BiotaMax in the water today.  Biotamax has a number of beneficial bacteria and fungi that help the roots grow as well as help protect the plant from harmful bacteria and fungi in the soil.

On Saturday I started a 335 Scherber and 2009 Wallace seed because two of the 1775 Starr seeds didn't germinate.  They were the only two to not get going but the third one is growing nicely. 

A local grower is supposed to be getting a clone of the plant that grew the 2009 world record last year.  I'm hoping to put that pollen pretty much into all of my plants.  The 335 Scherber wasn't a seed that I had though about growing this year but when some of the 1775 Starr seeds didn't germinate and I was thinking about a replacement the 335 came right to mind.  The 335 is a cross of a clone of a 1421 Stelts that grew a 1663 pounder with a clone of a 1161 Rodonis that grew a 1725 pounds.  My plan would be to put the clone of the 2009 into it, which on paper sounds like an excellent cross.  Genetics unfortunately doesn't read paper but all of those big genes you would think could give you something special.

I also started a 4.46 Marley (7.33 Hunt x self) tomato seed today.  I haven't ever tried growing a true giant tomato seed before, but I thought it was worth a try.  I'm also going to try a giant watermelon this year.  That seed I'll start in a week or so.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Giant Pumpkin Seed Starting Mixture

My first seeds have popped open and will be going in their pots this evening.  This year I'm trying a slightly different soil-less seed starting mixture.  The last couple of years I've used ProMix BX with my own worm castings.  This year I'm using a mixture of 65% ProMix BX, 10% worm castings and 25% Fox Farm's Ocean Forest.  The Ocean Forest has a touch of extra nutrients added to it including earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal and crab meal so I thought I would give it a try.  The Ocean Forest has a nice dark look to it and I've seen some good reviews for it in the past.  I've used the Fox Farm Light Warrior mix in the past.  It was great for starting the seeds but was nightmare getting the plants out of the pots because it just crumbled apart when out of the pot.  I don't expect that type of problem with Ocean Forest.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Let the Season Begin!

Going into last season I didn't have a good feeling going into it. The weather outlook didn't look good last season from the start, but not only that, call it a gut feeling, I didn't have high hopes to grow a big one. I worked every bit as hard last year as I have in the past, I just didn't anticipate great results. This season however I have higher hopes going into the season.

Water is one of my concerns this year. Watering restrictions could be a big problem if the well doesn't stay up all season. Last year it was down 90% of the year. With the well I can water as much as I need, but if I have to use city water it could be a challenge.

Joe Scherber asked me a few weeks ago what I was going to do different this year to grow big. That was a good question. My answer would be little adjustments to my foliar applications, focusing on what the plant needs because a nutrient is locked up or unavailable in the soil. I may get a tissue test in June to see exactly what the plant needs.

The second thing is adding an additional water line for the Dan Micros for even more even watering under the canopy. I'm going to position the water lines a little differently as well.

The third thing is a lot of alfalfa pellets. I've put down alfalfa in the past but never this much. Lots of good stuff in alfalfa and my soil has nearly double the nitrogen as last year, by design.

Looking at some great growers soil reports and talking with some heavy hitters and after a great conversation with Gary Shenfish at last seasons weigh off at Jared's, I decided I needed more nitrogen. My soil reports in the past have had me in the acceptable/moderate range for nitrogen for most crops but it is my belief these plants need a little more than the average crop. The alfalfa is providing that.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Start of the Great Pumpkin

Pumpkin growing is a lot like Major League Baseball. Each spring hope springs anew. Usually by the All-star break you know if you have a player and then come September first you are planning for the playoffs or you already are talking about next season.

Pictured here are the seed packets for this seasons starters. At this point you hope you look back at this post in October and say, "I'm sure glad I grew that seed." I like the genetics in these seeds. I'll take my two best 1775 plants and put them in one hoop house and put the 1421 and 1789 in the other. The kids will grow the 1799.

Going into this season my mind was set on the 1421. Now I'm not so sure. Talking with Thad Starr today he said that Quinn Werner said to not grow genetics more than three years old. That actually makes good sense. The 1421 has grown a lot of big pumpkins. Probably statistically the 3rd best seed all-time for progeny. However with all of the seeds that have been planted the biggest that it has grown is in the 1600 pound range. The 1789 has pumpkins 200 lbs larger however. When you look across all the pumpkins it isn't grower techniques that is pushing the weights up every year. Every 3-4 years the genetics have gotten so much better that it is making the older seeds obsolete. The 1421 is now 4 years old.

We will see what the plants look like and then make our decision. This year I'm not going to go by plant vigor when making my decision. I'm going to look at the plant traits and see which plant that looks the most like the parent plant that I want and then go with that. Too often you hear world record holders say that the plant that grew the big one wasn't their best looking plant early on.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tilled the Pumpkin Patch and Added Amendments

Today I tilled the planting areas and add some gypsum (for calcium), iron and manganese to the soil.  I also added some sugar to help get the soil biology going.  Last fall some of the patch wasn't tilled so I spent particular time tilling the areas were the sorghum sudan grass was still standing.  That will give it a month to get broken down until I put my plants in the soil.

Overall the soil looked pretty good.  I saw some of the biggest worms in the patch that I have ever seen in my soil where the sudan grass was located.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Learn to Grow a Giant Pumpkin from World Record Holder Ron Wallace

Learn the secrets to growing a one-ton World Record giant pumpkin from the grower himself. Special, limited time offer on Ron Wallace's How I Grew the World Record 2009 DVD. Just $18.99!

In this special DVD  Ron sits down with you and carefully recalls all the techniques and details he used to grow a 2,009 pound and 1,879 pound pumpkin in his record breaking year.  This DVD is packed with photos, PowerPoint, numerous reports and narrations of EVERYTHING he did to grow the first one-ton pumpkin.

Order online at to take advantage of this special offer at:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Check Out the Denver Post on Page 3C

My wife is a wonderful writer and writes a monthly column for the Denver Post on how to spend your money smartly.  Her personal narratives always make me laugh until I find that I'm the focus of the article.  However, this time she kind of got the article right.  At least the topic was right.  You can never go wrong talking about giant pumpkins.  You can find her article online at:  

(Note to readers:  my wife was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Lol)