Thursday, May 30, 2013

Compost Tea for the Giant Pumpkin Plants

Today I gave my pumpkin plants a healthy dose of compost tea.  The aerated compost tea was made in a 5 gallon container and included a mixture of old manure, alfalfa pellets, humic acid and some old leaves.  I finished it with a tablespoon of seaweed then poured the whole mixture across the leaves and ground around the pumpkin plant after brewing it for about 18 hours in water that was chlorine free.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

The following are the latest pictures from the pumpkin patch.  I wish my lawn grass grew as good as this cover crop is doing right now.  I'll probably be tilling it into the soil in the next 1 1/2 weeks.  The 1421 has been my best looking plant so far.  It was the first to germinate and has never looked back. The vines on it are yellowing up and I'm told that tends to indicate the pumpkin will be orange. The 1775 is also looking good.  The 1789 that is next to the 1775 has really come on lately but I think I'm going to stick with the 1775.  Both my son and daughter's plants I think are the best looking plants that they've had at this point in the season.  I expect good things for them this year.

Denver Colorado Giant Pumpkins

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weeds in the Pumpkin Patch

Its that time of the year.  The time where the weeds start popping up like, well, weeds.  Now is the time to start getting them out of the pumpkin patch while they are small and their root systems aren't well established.  Once most weeks get to any size they can become very difficult to pull and even harder to get rid off.  My preferred method, when the weeds are less than three inches high is a weed cutter.  They do a good job of cutting the weeds off at the roots when the weeds are small and most won't come back.  You can relatively quickly get a relatively large area in 15 minutes.  A weed cutter simply has a hoe type handle with a metal loop on the end that you pull back and forth through the soil, cutting the roots a couple of inches down.  Most of the weeds fully are uprooted using this system and it is nearly as good as pulling the weeds by hand, but a lot faster.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Little Fox Farms Organic Big Bloom for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I gave the pumpkin plants some foliar and drench Big Bloom with their water.  It is a very mild organic fertilizer.  Less than 1% of NPK.  The plants are growing, although not terribly fast and I'm not sure why.  I'm not overly concerned about it at this point, but I would have expected the vines to be down by now, but they are not.  Both plants however have very thick stumps so that often keeps the vines up in the air longer.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

This evening I gave both of my plants some fish & seaweed along with an extra helping of water.  Growth seemed a little slow lately so I wanted to see if this would push the plants along some.  This is the first nitrogen I've given the plants.  I like the look of my son's 335 Scherber plant.  It has really come along in the last week.

1421 Stelts

1775 Starr

335 Scherber
1799 Daletas

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kids Pumpkin Plants are in the Ground and Benefical Nematodes

Finally got my son and daughter's pumpkin plants in the ground this evening.  They should have been planted a week ago but my schedule hasn't allowed me time to help them do it.  My son is growing a 335 Scherber (1421 Stelts x 1161 Rodonis).  Both mom and pop were clone plants in the 335 cross so the 1421 grow a 1663 pound pumpkin and the 1161 grew a 1725 pound pumpkin that tied the world record for a day until a larger pumpkin went to the scale shortly after.  I like the cross and would like to pollinate it with a clone of the world record 2009 pumpkin.

My daughter planted a 1799 Daletas (1495 Stelts x 1409 Miller).  I saw the pumpkin and spoke to Steve Daletas about it last fall and knew my daughter would love the orange color of the mother.  It is a beautiful plant.  Dark green color and big leaves.  If it has a flaw it is the leaves droop badly in the sun because they are so big.  I'm hoping it is hardened off enough to take some sun over the next week.  Cooler days ahead which will help.

Today I sprayed the whole pumpkin patch with beneficial nematodes, Biotamax and Azos.  The beneficial nematodes seek out insects and insect larva in the soil and kill them.  A nice little benefit.  Biotamax I've talked about many times before, but it is mostly beneficial bacteria and trichoderma.  The Azos is a nitrogen fixing bacteria.  The soil has to be warm to get it going and we've had some upper 80 degree days and the soil is plenty warm now.  The rye grass should like all of this new biology.  It is growing very quickly.  I'm going to need to mow it in the next two weeks.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cover Crop is Coming in Nicely

About 1 1/2 weeks ago I seeded a new cover crop into the patch.  The cover crop will help suppress weeds, help keep the soil from becoming compacted, build the biology in the soil, pull nutrients from the soil and make them more readily available to the pumpkin plant and will make a nice green manure (organic matter) when I till it back in 3-4 weeks from now.  I seed everywhere in the patch except 4 feet from the hoop houses.  I'm using a winter rye grass for the cover crop.  It grows like a weed and is very hardy and fairly easy to get started.  When I put it down I also put down some myco so hopefully it will help get it started.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Biology for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I gave both hoop houses a heavy dose of biology in the form of compost tea, Biotamax, Azos and Actinovate.  All serve a somewhat different purpose, but each are meant to overwhelm bad bacteria and fungus in the soil and make available nutrients to the plant.  I also put in a bit of seaweed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

Pictured below are my four pumpkin plants.  The 1421, 1789 and 1775 were all planted on the same day.  The 335 Scherber was planted about 5 days later.  The 1775 has really started to come on over the last few days.  A little sun today should really kick the growing into gear.
335 Scherber (left) / 1421 Stelts (right)

1775 Starr (left) / 1789 Wallace (right)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Giant Pumpkin Growing DVD

I recently watched Ron Wallace's giant pumpkin growing DVD.  A real treat listening to a two time world record holder talk for two hours about what he did to grow a 2,009 and 1,872 pound pumpkin in the same season.  Ron's detail to growing isn't unheard of but he certainly has taken growing to a science.  I learned a lot from this DVD.

I've had breakfast and dinner with Ron and have enjoyed his company.  When at a giant pumpkin growers conference a few years back everyone knew who Ron was but I appreciated him coming to my table and asking if he could sit with me.  The man is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to pumpkin growing.

To order Ron's excellent DVD visit my store.

Monday, May 6, 2013

C02 Generator for Giant Pumpkin Plants

Now that my plants are in the hoop house I've added some CO2 generators to the hoop houses.  This is the 3rd year that I've done this.  You just need some yeast, sugar, warm water, old pop container and a straw to get it going.  I first drill a hole slightly smaller than a straw in the lid and then put a straw into the hole and glue the straw to the cap to fill any holes around the straw.  I then put warm water, 1/2 cup of sugar and a packet of yeast into the pop container and put the lid on the top with straw pointing out towards the pumpkin plant, but just short of the plant.  This video I found on youtube has a similar design to the one that I describe.  I use a larger pop container and I only fill it 1/3 of the way full of water.  The CO2 will fall from the straw down to the pumpkin leaves.

When the hoop house is closed up at night I think there is enough of a seal to allow at least some of the CO2 to build up at night.  One study found that with a proper addition of CO2 plants can grow up to 50% more.  I've never seen anything like that with my plants in the past, but I figure a little extra CO2 can't hurt.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If One Has the Means...Go Barreto, Pumpkin Plants in the Hoop House

Rototilling a large garden/pumpkin patch isn't a lot of fun.  I have about 1,000 square feet to till and my Craftsman tiller does the job but it is a lot of slow work.  The Craftsman was having some technical difficulties so I rented a Barreto rear tine, 14 HP mass of tilling power.  These units weigh about 600 pounds but are the Cadillac of tillers and make quick work of a pumpkin patch while doing a great job.  I was able to to till the entire patch in about 45 minutes and it made quick work of some areas that have traditionally been a little hard and did a good job of tilling in the rye grass I put down last fall.

Before tilling I put down a pound of myco, 2 pounds of blood meal and a couple of pounds of gypsum over the entire patch.  After tilling I put down about 12 pounds of winter rye grass seed everywhere but the planting areas.  The rye grass cover crop will help keep the weeds down over the next couple of months, get the myco going in the soil and when tilled in will be a nice green manure and add biomass to the soil.

1789 Wallace / 1775 Starr
I did some quick repairs on my hoop houses and then put them back out into the patch where they have been warming the soil for the last week and a half.  I them planted my 1421 Stelts and 335 Scherber into the first hoop house.  Later I planted the 1775 Starr and 1789 Wallace into the 2nd hoop house. I put some myco in each planting hole along with some Actinovate, Biotamax and Azos.  I then gave the plants a good drink of warm water with about a tablespoon of liquid seaweed in the water.

In about 3 weeks or so I'll take out the plants that I'm not going to go with so I'll then just have one plant in each hoop house and then pray that my keepers can grow a pumpkin.

1421 Stelts / 335 Sherber
In one hoop house I have a heat lamp and in the 2nd hoop house I have a thermostatically controlled space heater to keep the plants warm on cold Colorado nights.

I've been real impressed so far the the 1421 Stelts and 1775 Starr plants.  Particularly the 1421 has been a vigorous plant with a very nice root system.

I'm tired this evening.  Hard work in the pumpkin patch today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Plants Are Going in the Ground Tomorrow

My plan is to put the pumpkin plants in the hoop houses tomorrow.  They are running out of space under the grow lights and the 8 inch pots are going to get a little small for the root systems soon.  The biggest plant is the 1421 Stelts.  The second biggest is the 1775 Starr.