Sunday, June 30, 2013

1775 Flower Pollinated; Lastest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

Today is maybe the first time that I've ever pollinated a pumpkin and it was forecasted to be in the 80s.  Not only that, but it is forecasted to be in the 80s for the better part of this week with even some 70s in the forecast.  Normally I'm scrambling to freeze buckets of water and putting solar blankets over the pumpkins to keep them cool.  I'm not sure I know how to pollinate in the 80s.

Pictured below is the 1775 female that I pollinated this morning.  A nice 4 lober.  The flower on this one was huge. 
If both of my pollination were to take and I were to take the 1421 to Jared's Nursery Weigh Off it would have 95 days to grow which is close to perfect amount of time.  Too little time and you lose potential weight gains on the pumpkin.  Too much time and you risk the pumpkin rotting out.  If I were to take the 1775 pumpkin to Nick's Nursery Weigh Off it would have 96 days to grow.

These are the latest pictures of the pumpkin plants.  By the end of next week the main vine on the 1421 Stelts will be close to the length of the main vine of the 1451 Scherber last year at the end of the season.  I wouldn't call the 1421 an aggressive grower, but it is a very good grower.The 1421 probably has 5-6 side vines that are terminated now because they have reached the end of their growing area.
1421 Stelts

1775 Starr
Gave the plants some foliar magnesium and manganese.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Big Thanks to Joe for the World Record Pollen

World Record Pollen
I've been praying for this.  Last fall Matt DeBacco took some cuttings from the plant that grew the world record 2,009 pound pumpkin vines and then got them to root and keep those cuttings going during the winter in a greenhouse.  I pollinated my 1421 Stelts from a cross of one of those cuttings and a seed from the 2009 pumpkin.  Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Grower club member and friend Joe got one of those clone plants this spring.  It was 90% dead when it arrived in the mail.  Obviously had gotten too hot during shipping but Joe was able to get it going again but it was stunted.  Because of that I didn't think there would be any pollen available for me.

1775 Pumpkin
I got lucky.  My 1775 Starr looked like it was going to open today but it didn't and a flower from the world record plant showed up ready to open tomorrow.  I know Joe probably had one of his own plants ready to be pollinated with the flower but he gave it to me.  So a big thanks to him!

One of the great things about crossing with a clone is that you know the traits of the plant and how big of a pumpkin it can grow.  Many a grower has lamented which of their plants they crossed with each other because sometimes you have a plant that grew a massive pumpkin that you crossed with a dude of a plant.  Crossing with a clone takes the guessing out of your crosses.

World Record Pumpkin
The 1775 Starr pumpkin was a massive and wide pumpkin, but not quite as tall.  The world record pumpkin was very tall.  Both pumpkins were the exact same size however having an amazing over the top measurement of 458 inches which ties them being the 2nd largest measurement for pumpkins ever.  The 1775 went very light so that is why it didn't end up as a world record.  Both pumpkins were grown from the 1725 Harp seed.

First, I'm hoping that this pollination takes.  Second I'm hoping I can grow a big pumpkin on the 1775.  Third I'm hoping that from this cross I can get the genes for the height of the 2009 and the width of the 1775 to get a very special pumpkin.

Yesterday I noticed some green algae on the soil.  With three days of 95+ degrees I nearly doubled the water so the soil has been wet.  This  evening I gave both of the pumpkin plants some BiotaMax, Actinovate and Azos to help kill any bad stuff that might be trying to grow in the soil.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hot in Denver and Pumpkin Pollinations

The 1421 Stelts seems to have taken the pollination in what has been some pretty bad heat. The female has grown in size so that is a good sign.  One more 95 degree day and then we will back into the 80s for a while. Usually days 3-5 is when you can really tell if the pumpkin has set and not until about day 10 can you breath a sigh of relief. Pictured below is the 1775 Starr female that I'll be pollinating on Saturday or Sunday. This female is similar to the one that grew into the 1,775 pound pumpkin that the seed I am growing came from.  However, Thad's a fair amount skinner and had a much longer stem on it.
This evening I sprayed some bug spray on all of the plants.  I kind of hate to do that but after losing a plant last year to a disease spread by the Squash Bug I don't want to lose a plant again because of that.  I also sprayed a little fish & seaweed on the ground where the plants haven't grown yet.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pollinated the 1421 Stelts Today at 12 Feet

Today I pollinated the 1421 female that is at 12 feet out on the main vine with the 220 Debacco.  The 220 Debacco is an interesting plant.  Matt Debacco took a cutting of the world record plant grown from the 1725 Harp seed and "cloned" it, growing it in a greenhouse during the winter.  That winter he also grew a seed from the 2009 world record pumpkin and then crossed the two together and got a 220 pound pumpkin, from which my pollinator plant came from.  Growing and pollinating a plant during the winter is not an easy thing to do so kudos to Matt for pulling it off.  The plant that the pollen came from looks 90% 1725 in its traits and very little if any 1409 Miller in it which is probably a good thing. 

Weather in Denver will be 90 today which isn't too bad.  I have the female shaded and gave the plant a little extra water this morning.  However the next three days will be 95-100 degrees.  If a plant is stressed it will abort the pumpkin so we have to pray over the next few days that this pollination will take. We will know that for sure in about 10 days.

This female is an almost perfect specimen.  There are 4 lobes, which is what I prefer and they are decently formed and the female is positioned very nicely on the vine.  Now we just need her to grow big!  If this pollination takes it will probably be my keeper pumpkin and I'll name it Stanley.

This evening I gave the plants a mixture of Metalosate Calcium, humic acid and Lithovit.

Monday, June 24, 2013

S Cuve For The Pumpkin Main Vine

I was recently asked about how to do an S curve for where you set your pumpkin.  The reason you do this is to get the vine out of the way of the massive shoulders of the pumpkin and reduce stem stress.  

The following picture is of my 1421 that I will be pollinating tomorrow.  Over a few days, during the heat of the day, I've been bending the vine to make a curve in the vine with the pumpkin at the point.  I'll bend this one a little more tomorrow to get even more of a point.  Doing this now saves you a lot of headaches two months from now.
Tonight I gave both plants some compost tea with most of it being poured on the ground around the side vine tips and ahead of the vines.  If you look closely in the picture below you will see little white pumpkin roots to the right and just ahead of the vine tip where I moved a walking board.  This was about 9 feet from the stump and ahead of the vines.  You like to see that because it means the roots are growing well and they are what are going to power your pumpkin.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

1421 Stelts
Today I put down some calcium on the soil.  Particularly on the 1421 plant side of the patch.  These are the latest pictures from the pumpkin patch.  The 1775 Starr has caught up to the 1421 Stelts in length but is behind in terms of side vines.  Both plants are about 15-17 feet long on the main vine which isn't too bad for me at this point of the season.

I spoke with Thad Starr yesterday about some of the traits of his plant that grew the 1775 last year and the 1775 he is growing this year.  Other than maybe my baby pumpkin being just a hair fatter than his last year (time will tell on that one because my female flower is so young) all the rest of the traits were exactly the same as his (which is a good thing). 
1775 Starr
One of the reasons (and there are many) that I chose to grow the 1775 is because I'm hoping that the genetics in this seed are refined and made more consistent.  Every seed is like a child and has slightly different genetics from the other seeds in the pumpkin.  This is especially true if you cross your pumpkin with another pumpkin from different genetic lines.  However, if you self or self pollinate the pumpkin with pollen from its own flowers then the genetics should be more similar (although they won't be the same).  Kristy Harp and her husband selfed their 1385 Jutras plant that grew the world record 1,725 pounder.  This was unique as most growers at that time didn't self pumpkins and this was the first world record that I know of in the last 25 years that was selfed.

Not only was that 1725 selfed but it was a special pumpkin.  I know the gentics in its line were of royal linage and that pumpkin had the potential to possibly even getter bigger than it did.  That isn't a knock on its growers, because I think a grower with a more jacked up soil probably would have blown up that pumpkin.  By selfing it they seem to have preserved the rock star genetics that it had which might have been lost by crossing it with a lesser pumpkin.  The year after Kristy grew her world record they were kind enough to give me their 1236 Harp seed which was a cross of the 998 Pukos with the world record plant.  Some nice pumpkins have been grown from the 1236 but nothing close to the giants grown from the 1725 seed.  The 998 didn't seem to add to the great genetics of the 1725.

My hope is that by Thad selfing his 1725 plant that grew his massive 1775 he has further refined and made more consistent the genetics in the seed.  Thad's pumpkin looked more like Kristy's pumpkin than any other one that I have seen.  The coloring and shape were almost identical.  Ron's world record pumpkin grown from the 1725 seed looked very little like Kristy's.  Joe's big pumpkin grown off the 1725 didn't look a lot like Kristy's either, although maybe more than Ron's.  Thad's was more of a mirror image and I'm hoping that means those original genetics have been passed on to my plant.  So far I've had very few complaints about this plant.  Here's to hoping it grows like Thads!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Not Quite Yet a Pumpkin

Pictured below are what I hope are going to be my two pumpkins.  I'm setting up for them as if they will be.  In three weeks we will know for sure.
big pumpkin
1421 Stelts
giant pumpkin
1755 Starr

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Foliar Magnesium & Calcium for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I did a foliar application of magnesium and calcium on the pumpkin plants.  My soil is high in potassium which will block some of the magnesium in the soil from being taken up by the roots so foliar applications of magnesium should help get the plants what they need.

I'm not 100% sure if foliar calcium can be absorbed by pumpkin leaves, but if calcium can be absorbed then I believe Metalosate Calcium or NurtiCal are the two best choices.  NutriCal isn't organic so it isn't my first choice so I mostly use Metalosate Calcium.  Next week I plan on doing a leaf tissue test so I can know exactly what the plant is absorbing and what it needs.  I've never done this before so I'm hoping that when the pumpkin starts growing I can be ready to give it what it needs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Naming Your Pumpkin

It's crazy I know, but every year I name my pumpkins.   I think it is kind of a fun thing to do and it gives a little personality to the pumpkins.  My past pumpkins:
  • DillBoy - 755lbs
  • HailBoy - RIP - tornado took this one at at about 35lbs
  • RedemptionBoy and LarryBoy - 868lbs and 820lbs
  • Ricky and Jerry - Jerry was about 550lbs went it went down due to rot.  Ricky was 924lbs and a beautiful pumpkin.  Should have gone over 1,000 pounds but slowed way down due to a split.
  • Christine - 837lbs.  Too hot that year to grow much of anything.
This years pumpkin will be named, drum roll please:  Elbert and Stanley.

My grandpa was named Elbert and a world class gardner.  I've seen carrots that came out of his garden that were as big around as your wrist.  In honor of him I'm going to name one of the pumpkins after him.  Elbert is also the name of the highest mountain in Colorado.  A great 14er which I climbed a few years back.  So maybe this pumpkin can become Mt. Elbert.

Stanley is the name of my father-in-law and also the name of my oldest and one of my best of friends.  Also seems like a good name for a pumpkin.  So hopefully Elbert and Stanley can get me over that 1,000 pound mark this year.  I'm feeling good about where I'm at right now.  The weather has been fairly good, the plants seem happy and my soil and setup I think is the best I've had since I started growing in this patch.  Time will tell.  Pray for a big pumpkin for me.

Female Flower on the 1775 at 12 feet Out on the Main

A female flower showed up today on the 1775 Starr plant.  That means that both plants now have females in ideal locations.  I now just have to hope that the pollination will take on each plant and then we will be off on the races.  I won't give either plant any nitrogen over the next two weeks to help make sure that the pollination will take.  I will give the plants some seaweed, magnesium and calcium over that two week period however.

This evening I gave the plants a drench of 1/2 tablespoon seaweed with one tablespoon of Azos.  Most of it was put around the stump and along the main vine.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Compost Tea for the Pumpkin Plants

I gave each pumpkin plants about 1 1/2 gallons of compost tea this evening with some molasses and seaweed in with the compost tea.  The plants are going to like that.

We are in the vine burying phase of growing right now.  Not my favorite time of the year, but burying vines to get more roots is one of the most important things you can do during the growing season to grow a big pumpkin.  By the end of July the patch should be almost full of vines and the pumpkin will be growing fast enough that the pumpkin vine growth will slow way down.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Female at about 12 feet on 1421 Stelts

A female flower showed up on the 1421 at about 11 to 12 feet on the main vine today.  If you want to grow a big pumpkin then you want to grow it on the main vine because that is where the most available nutrients are going to be to power the pumpkin's growth.  This female is on the side of the plant that I'd like to grow a pumpkin so I'm hoping that in about 10 days I'll be pollinating it.

No females have shown up on the main vine of the 1775 plant yet.  This plant reminds me alot of the 1789 Wallace plant that I grew last year. I'm maybe 1-2 days behind that plant in terms of side vine growth, but the main vine is almost exactly the same length for the date.  The 1421 plant is a bit ahead of where both of my plants were at on this date last year.

I gave my plants a very light dose of foliar fish and seaweed this evening.  Mostly my daughter gave the fish and seaweed to her 1799 plant which continues to struggle and there was some left over so I sprayed in on my son's and my two plants.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dan Micros Being Added to the Pumpkin Patch

The last couple of days I've been slowly getting the Dan Micro sprinkler lines put into the patch.  This would have gone faster, but I'm changing the setup so that there are now two different lines so I can have more water pressure on each line and each on its own timer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pumpkin Vine Burying, Myco & Compost Tea

Early this morning I buried the vines on my pumpkin plant; put down some myco and humic acid at each leaf node; and then buried the vines to encourage roots to grow at each leaf node and also to anchor the plan in the wind.   I also gave each plant about 1 1/2 gallons of compost tea with 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid seaweed in it. 

It is possibly going to be record breaking temperatures today in Denver.  Not an ideal way to introduce the pumpkin plants to the sun for the first time (they've been in the hoop house for a month).  I'll be misting the plants a lot today to keep them cooler and keep the humidity high.  Young leaves don't do well in the hot sun.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kudos to the Wife, The Hoop House is Off

1421 Stelts
Let me take a moment to give a big thanks to my wife and the help she gives me in growing my pumpkins.  I should put "help" in quotes because she usually doesn't look at my pumpkin plants for the first two months and then after that maybe 3-4 times before harvest.  However, she puts up with me wasting a lot of time in the patch and listening to me talk about pumpkins throughout the season and to put up with that is more than any women should have to endure. 

This evening she did help me a lot by helping me take the hoop houses off of the plants.  This was not an easy and a little scary task.  Last season I lost the main vine on a plant when I and another person were removing the hoop houses.  That set that plant back a week.  This year it even more challenging because the 1421 plant was 2 days over due in taking the hoop house off the plant and the main must have grown 10 inches today we we had to be very careful in taking the hoop house off.  My wife was a champ however and things went perfectly.

When you take the hoop houses off what used to look like a big plant looks very small.  Both the 1775 and the 1421 plants are getting ready to explode however.  By this time next week the plants will literally have doubled in size or more.  In two weeks we should be pollinating the pumpkins and then we are off to the races.

Today I gave the patch a spray down of Biotamax and Azos.  I also gave the plants some CalCarb because it is going to be hot tomorrow.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Latest Pictures from My Pumpkin Patch

I tilled the cover crop today.  Put down about 2 pounds of evaporated cane sugar with it which will help get the biology in the soil going.  I have no room left in the hoop houses so they will be coming off tomorrow.  Just in time for the heat.  The 1775 Starr plant has really come on the last 4 days.  The 1421 has a little pumpkin at about the 8 foot mark.  I won't keep this one.  My guess is that the pumpkins are going to be light orange on this one and a slightly long shape.

1421 Stelts

1775 Starr

Tilled Cover Crop

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hail Netting Over the Patch & the Pumpkin Observation Deck

This evening I put up the hail netting over the pumpkin patch.  I learned the hard way what a hail storm could do to a pumpkin 4 years ago.  The hail netting also helps cut down on the UV rays and also makes it a little cooler with the 15% shade that it creates.  The plants are running out the door of the hoop houses now and I'll have to take them off in the next couple of days.  My plants have actually caught up to where my plants were at on this date last year.  I was behind, but even with the cooler weather they are growing okay.

After putting up the netting I sat down on our new Pumpkin Observation deck (you can see the pumpkin patch and hail netting just over the back fence).  Life is sometimes very, very good.
Denver Colorado Pumpkin Patch hail Netting

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Manganese, Wind and Making Some Decisions

Tonight I did some foliar manganese applications on the pumpkin plants.  Colorado soils tend to be naturally low in Manganese.  Not only that but our high ph soils make manganese deficiencies more common, especially when the soil iron is high as it often is in the Denver area.  High potassium soils, like my patch have, can make the problem worse.

Manganese plays a significant role in photosynthesis. The formation of free oxygen radicals during water splitting and ultimately the release of oxygen is not possible under Mn-free environments. Mn is the only element that can contribute the necessary electrons for this biochemical process.

I recently read that manganese sulphate added to the soil, like what I've been using the last few years, has no effect on the plant.  I watched the Ron Wallace DVD again this last weekend and he was talking about the manganese issues he was having in 2012 and he showed a picture of the exact same bag of manganese that I've been using.  Ron does regular tissue tests on his plant and he was never able to get his manganese to move up in the tissue tests.  The reason for that, as I said before, is because soil applications of manganese sulphate don't work.  Soil applications apparently don't work in the form we have been doing it and Ron's soil test seemed to prove that.

I have read that a foliar application is the best way to fix the problem and that a chelate is the best form to use.  I looked high and low for any kind of a foliar manganese and couldn't find anything that didn't require a purchase that would only be appropriate for a large farm.  As such I decided to take a bit of a risk and I bought a pill form that is meant to be used as a human supplement.  I first tried it on one plant and then waited a few days before trying it on other plants.

The brand I am using is Solray 50mg capsules.  I simply pour the capsule into my sprayer and then spray the bottom of the pumpkin leaves.  I don't use all of the manganese water.  Just enough to cover the bottom of my leaves and the rest is discarded.  Not sure if this will work or not.  Doesn't seem to hurt and I haven't figured out a better way to do it yet.

The 1421 plant is about 6 inches from the end of the hoop house.  I'm hoping to keep it in the hoop house for 4-5 days if I can.  I still need to get the hail netting up and there is a forecast for a windy day ahead and I don't want to make the mistake that I made last year of removing the hoop house only to have 20 mph winds the next day.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hot One in Denver Today

We are going to be in the 90s today and when you have plants inside of hoop houses it can easily get over 100 degrees really fast.  I've given the plants a lot of water this morning, fully opened the hoop houses and have put an extra piece of plastic on top of each hoop house which will block out some of the sun to help keep the plants cooler.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

CalCarb and Foliar Magnesium for the Pumpkin Plants

I gave the pumpkin plants some CalCarb and magnesium this morning as a foliar application.  My soil potassium is high and potassium will often out compete with magnesium in the cations to get absorbed by the roots.  As such I apply the magnesium as a foliar application to help the plant get magnesium. My magnesium source is just Epsom salt that you can buy at any drug store.

The next couple of days are going to be warm in Colorado so the CalCarb is used to help the plant with the heat.  The CalCarb helps the plant keep water and deal with the heat stress.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And Then There Was One (Pumpkin Plant in Each Hoop House)

In each hoop house I took out the backup plants today.  It is always kind of a hard thing to do.  You always wonder if you are taking out the plant that could grow your next big pumpkin.  Both of the plants (1789 Wallace and 335 Scherber) were nice looking plants.  Just not as nice as the 1421 Stelts and 1775 Starr plants.

I also put down 2 3/4 pounds of blood meal across the entire pumpkin patch today and then watered it in.  After talking with Joe yesterday I decided some more nitrogen would be a good thing and blood meal is an easy choice for nitrogen when your potassium and phosphorous are high.

The 1421 and 1775 are growing like champs these days.  The 1421 in particular is growing quickly.  It is putting on 6-8 inches per day on the main vine right now and if it keeps up this pace will be out of the hoop house by the end of this week if not sooner.  It is about 4 1/2 long right now and the 1775 isn't too far behind it.