Monday, June 30, 2014

Some Compost Tea & a Last Pollination (I hope)

This evening I gave both plants some aerated compost team.  I used the Xtreme Tea that Ron Wallace sent out to a number of growers with a little added alfalfa pellets and a tablespoon of molasses added to the tea.  The pumpkin plants should like that.

Tomorrow morning I'm pollinating the 335 Scherber plant with 282 Scherber.  I'm hoping this pollination takes and then I'll be done with pollinations for this season and we will be doing what we like to do best.  Grow big pumpkins!

1791 Pumpkin's First Measurement

Typically I start taking measurements on the pumpkins starting around day number 10.  And then periodically, if not daily, take measurements after that.  Sometimes you can recognize problems early if you find that growth is slowed down.  A day 10 measurement doesn't mean much.  Typically I want to see a pumpkin around 20-24 inches on day 10 for a Colorado grown pumpkin.  However, I know growers in other states who consistently have day 10 measurements in the 15-19 inches range who have consistent 1,500 to 1,800 pound pumpkins at the end of the year.  Weather and genetics can be a factor for how your pumpkin grows and ten days is a pretty small window.

The measurement on the 1791 pumpkin was a bit of a disappointment.  17 1/2 inches.  The 1421 Stelts had a day 10 measurement of 23 1/2 inches last year.  One thing I re-learned last year however is that it doesn't matter how they start, it only matters how the finish.  The Wiz at mid-season last year had a very ordinary looking pumpkin.  At the weigh-off it was the 2nd heaviest pumpkin ever grown in Colorado.  His pumpkin was what is called a long grower.  It never got to super high daily gains.  It just kept growing consistently and never tapered off much.  Although not as exciting, that is really the pumpkin you want.  Less risks of the pumpkin splitting open when it is a long grower (although Wiz's pumpkin did unfortunately pop at the end of the year on a deep rib).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Azos under the Leaf Canopy

This evening I sprayed Azos under the leaf canopy on the soil where the vines are buried and just in front of the vines.  Azos is a bacteria originally found in the jungles of Brazil.  It is a nitrogen fixing bacteria, but I think what is more interesting is the gibberellin type substances that Azos produces and share with the pumpkin plant (i.e. growth hormones for plants) and how it can enhance the root mass.  I've used Azos for a number of years now.  It isn't something that makes a noticable difference in a plant, but if the studies are good, then what is happening under the surface of the soil should help to produce a larger pumpkin later in the season.

Hot one in Denver today.  Fortunately, but accidentally I left the misting sprinkler running for about 4 hours this afternoon (long story).  Needless to say the plants didn't lack for moisture today and probably never noticed the heat.  That misting sprinkler fortunately doesn't put down much water and it was running during the hottest part of the day so no damage done and if anything it might have helped.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Pumpkin Pictures

Both plants seem to have increased their vine growing this last week.  The 335 is still behind where it should be, but doing better.  I would be a bit down on that plant but the root system is very impressive on it so I'm hoping it has pumpkin growing powers like last year's plant.

The 1791 continues to truck along.  Growth on the pumpkin seems good.  Monday morning will be day 10 and that will be the first gauge of its growth.  At this point I don't pay much attention to it other than to make sure it is growing and shiny.

I pollinated a 2nd pumpkin at about 17-18 feet out on the main today.  It was pollinated with my daughter's 335 plant.  I pollinated it as a backup in case something happens to the first.  I'm not expecting any problems, but you never know with pumpkin growing so pollinating some backups is always a good idea.  In about 10-14 days I'll take off the backup.

On Monday I should be pollinating a 2nd pumpkin on my 335 plant.  I hope to pollinate it with Joe's 282 plant.  It is probably 14-15 feet out on the main vine.  If things look good with it I'll go with it and take off the 1st pollination.  I wanted to let the plant get a little bigger before getting a pumpkin growing at full speed on the plant.

Gave both plants a very light foliar application of fish & seaweed along with some multi mineral.

1791 Pumpkin "Bo"

1791 plant front, 335 in the shadows back

335 Plant and 1st pollination

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hail Netting #2; A Test

Possibly under the false assumption that we will see sunny days in Colorado again, I put up a 2nd piece of hail netting, on top of the 1st piece this afternoon. I came up with this idea over the winter.  My current hail netting has a 14% shade factor, which undoubtedly helps on the hot Colorado summer days.  However, on the really hot days it isn't quite enough to be ideal.  I learned from Pete's patch a few years ago that these plants don't need a ton of sun.  Pete grew on the east side of his house.  The patch was probably 225 square feet, which is small.  And he pulled a very nice 1306 pound pumpkin out of the patch that year.  After about 1:00 about half of his patch was in the shade.  By 2:00 most all of the patch was in the shade.  You would think that would be a problem but our big temperature swings from high 50s at night low 90s during the day seem to be a bigger problem.  Since his pumpkin was in the shade during the hottest part of the day I theorize that his pumpkin was able to grow more during the day because it didn't have to deal with as big of temperature changes during the day.

Putting that theory to the test, on only the west side of the patch, I've added an 18% shade cloth.  I'm not sure if in this case if 14% + 18% actually equals 32% shade, but for sure the plant won't have to deal with as much brutal sun after the lunch hour.  We will see if that works.

That is, if, we ever have a full sun day in Colorado again.  Its been a very screwy spring and early summer this year.  88 degrees right now but completely cloudy this afternoon like it has been every afternoon for the last month.

However, if there is one truth to Colorado weather, if you don't like it, just wait an hour and it will change.

This evening I sprayed the entire patch with one Biotamax tablet and then watered it in.

A Pumpkin Named "Bo"

It is day number 7 since pollinated the 1791 pumpkin plant.  I'm going to name this pumpkin Bo.  I watched a show on ESPN this last winter about Bo Jackson and thought Bo would be the perfect name for a giant pumpkin.  Hopefully he will live up to his name.

So far Bo is growing nicely and is shined up.  I think this pollination will take.  He has a nice long stem.  My guess that is from the 2009 side.  He also has a little bit of length to his shape.  Hopefully that will mean it won't turn into a wheel.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Foliar Seaweed & Fulvic Acid Tonight

I gave the plants a very small quantity of folia liquid seaweed with some fulvic acid and a little bit of a non-ionic surfactant to help the seaweed get into the leaves.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Foliar Multi-mineral for the Plants

This evening I gave both of the plants a foliar application of multi-mineral.  The brand I use is an organic multi-mineral from Albion labs.  It contains:

Calcium (Ca) (Chelated) 2.9%
Magnesium (Mg) (Chelated)
Copper (Cu) (Chelated) 1.4%
Iron (Fe) (Chelated) 1.4%
Manganese (Mn) (Chelated) 1.4%
Zinc (Zn) (Chelated) 1.4%

My plants traditionally have been low in each of these minerals so it works perfect for my needs. The nice thing about it is that it uses an amino acid chelated Metalosate Multimineral that is designed for foliar application.  Because it is chelated it should be absorded better by the plant.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Seaweed Drench & Watching Out for Bugs

This evening I did a soil drench with liquid seaweed on the areas where the vines have reached out the farthest.  I also applied some insecticide on all of the plants.  My daughter pointed out that something has been chewing on her plants.  I didn't recognize it before because some of her leaves had holes in them from hail damage, but when I looked more closely I recognized that she was right.  I sprayed all of the plants with some insecticide this evening when the bees wouldn't be out.  I don't prefer to use bug spray but I've lost nice plants in the past due to yellow vine disease which is spread by squash bugs and I'd prefer to not have that happen again.

Should be pollinating a female on the 335 plant tomorrow morning. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Some Sand & Some Lithovit for the Pumpkin

Today I did some fixes on the sprinkler lines, put down some sand for the pumpkin to grow on and gave the pumpkin plants some Lithovit.  Lithovit is similar to the CO2 product by Xtreme Gardens but in my opinion might be a better product because of the way it is made but both are excellent products.  It is mostly calcium, but I'm not sure that calcium can get into the plant.  Its real value is helping the plant deal with heat stress. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hopefully We Are Growing Pumpkins Now

I pollinated the female flower on the 1791 Holland that is at 13' with pollen from a 1305 Werner today.  The 1305 is a very nice looking and aggressive growing plant that reminds me a lot of the 1791.  I know Joe pollinated one at about the same length on his 1305 today so we are off to the races. The female flower was a 4 lobber which is what I prefer.

I like the shape of the pumpkin on this one.  It has a bit of length to it.  Usually the shape of the pumpkin on the vine will indicate what the shape of the pumpkin will be but that isn't always the case.  Pumpkins that are long and not so tall tend to have less problems with blossom end splits (BES).  Tall pumpkins have more problems with BES but they tend to look bigger which is kind of cool.  But a pumpkin with a split isn't qualified for a weigh-off so it is better not to blow them so you can show them.

As you can see in the picture I need to remove the side vine next to the pumpkin.  I'll wait a day or two to see if the pumpkin is growing before I remove that however.

Today is going to be cooler than what most of the days I've pollinated on in the past.  Usually it is at least 92 degrees on a pollination day but today is going to be mid-80s which is ideal.

I've had good success with my pollinations taking in the past.  I don't really do anything special.  I lay off nitrogen fertilizers prior and just after pollination.  I also put one of those white lawn chairs over the female flower days prior to the pollination.  I think if you can help keep it cool and relatively dry your changes go up for the pollination taking.  10 days from now I'll know if it worked.  When the pumpkin gets real shiny where you can almost see your reflection in the pumpkin is when you know things are going well.  Usually that is around day 8.

Today I gave both plants some compost tea.  I also gave a foliar application of Nutri-Cal to the 335 plant which is basically a calcium nitrate fertilizer.  The 335 growth has been relatively slow lately, so I'm hoping this will kick it into gear.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Calcium & Fulvic Acid for the Pumpkin Plants

This morning I gave the plants some CalMag with fulvic acid in the root zone.  Mr. Scherber said that in Orlando they talked about applying calcium with fulvic acid at the proper times of the season could help get more calcium into the fruit.  More calcium in the fruit some believe can help prevent splits.  I'd love to not have the pumpkins bust open on me so I thought I would give it a try.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

The following are the pictures of the plants.  Both are doing fine.  This evening I gave both of the plants some foliar multi-mineral and I gave the 335 plant a pinch of blood meal to help the side vines grow a little faster.

So far, genetic wise it looks like I got exactly what I wanted.  The 335 plant had a female show up today.  It is darker yellow and a long shape to it which is what its mom had.  Pretty much all 1421 Stelts showing up in this plant so far.

The 1791 I'm not sure of what I got or what I want, but I'm happy with what I see so far.  I grew this seed because I liked the cross a lot.  Joel Holland told me that trait wise both plants were very similar last year and early on there was little difference in either plant.  Both plants were aggressive growers and the leaf size and shape were about the same.  The female that showed up on my plant one is round and since both pumpkins were tall and roundish, that isn't a surprise.  I hope to get the 1495's color and its heaviness. 

I got the Dan Micros setup today so I can water under the leaves and the entire patch.  I think during the hot days recently I was under watering so it is good to get the sprinkler system going.  I messed up on one part of the pipes however so I need to go in and fix the one line still.

Strangely cool this spring in Colorado.  Lots of clouds and weather in the afternoon.  The plants don't seem to mind it however.  Nighttime lows seems to have been about average and with a little cooler days the highs and lows have been better for the plants.  The giant pumpkins don't seem to like extreme temperature changes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Little Foliar Fish & Seaweed for the Pumpkin Plants

Pretty warm day here in Denver today.  Much warmer and drier than what we have had the previous two weeks.  It was kind of nice.  I could tell that the plants were used to full sun and warm temperatures that we had today.   A bit of flagging on the leaves.  A little misting and they shot right back into shape however.  I need to get my dan micro sprinklers hooked up tomorrow so I can water the whole patch more evenly.

This evening I gave both plants some foliar fish & seaweed to keep the growing pushing along.  After today I'll hold off on any nitrogen fertilizers until I have some pumpkins set.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Female in the Pumpkin Zone

Somewhere between 10-14 feet is typically the sweet spot to set your pumpkin on the main vine.  I have a female that has shown up at about 13 feet.  I'll pollinate it, but I'm inclined to wait for a female to show up on the main that is a little farther out so I can get the plant and root structure larger before the pumpkin starts taking off.  However, you should pollinate everything because you never know which pollination will take and which pollinations end up growing well.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Some Multi-mineral, Seaweed and Fulvic Acid for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I gave the plants some foliar multi-mineral mixed with a touch of liquid seaweed and some fulvic acid.   A cool day in Denver today but things will be warming up a little after today.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Lot of Rain in Denver Today

I'm glad I took the 335 plant out of the hoop house yesterday.  About an inch of rain in Denver today so far.   On Tuesday it is supposed to be about 90 degrees and with the moist soil and the warm sun the plants are going to love it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

335 Plant is Out of the Hoop House Now

The 335 Scherber pumpkin plant is out of the hoop house now.  It is growing well now and shaping up to be a very nice plant.  The most interesting thing about this plant is the root system.  There appear to be lots of roots.  When I was burying the vines after taking the hoop house off I was running into lots of little pumpkin roots as I was gathering dirt.  You like to see that.

This evening I gave both plants a foliar application of multi-mineral and a touch of fish & seaweed.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pumpkin Plant is Out of the Hoop House Now

I took the 1791 plant out of the hoop house today.  It was  a little scary because it was 2 feet out of the house (the main vine is a little longer than 9 feet now) so trying to maneuver it and not snap off the main vine was a challenge. I would only do this during the heat of the day when the vine is a little more rubbery.

Once I got the plant out of the hoop house I started staking down the vines with bamboo sticks and burying the vines.  If you bury the vines you'll get roots out of the top and the bottom of the vines at each leaf node.  I also took off the start of any tertiary vines because you don't need those and if you let those grow you will end up with a jungle mess of  vines.  Lastly I put down a little myko and Azos at each leaf node.

I'll use a modified Christmas tree pattern for my vines.  From the main vine I'll let the side vines grow out and I kind of bend them back towards the stump so it looks like a Christmas tree laying on the ground.  A good example of what this looks like can be seen at on this old blog post.

After burying the vines, I then put up a silt fence to help protect the plant from wind.  The plants are kind of vulnerable at this point until the side vines get a little longer and have roots down to anchor the plant.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some More Probiotics for the Pumpkin Patch

This evening I sprayed the entire patch with 1 Biotamax tablet, 1/4 cup of Azos and about a half a cup of liquid seaweed.  After spraying everything I then watered the pumpkin patch to help get it soaked in.  The beneficial bacteria and fungi in what was sprayed should help build a healthy soil food web that will help feed the pumpkin plant as the vines grow out.

Looks like I'm going to have to take the hoop houses off of both plants tomorrow.  They are busting at the seams now.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tilled the Patch & Put Up the Hail Netting

This evening I tilled the pumpkin patch to get the cover crop tilled into the soil. I've never had so much biomass from a cover crop before.  The rains we've had the last three weeks made the rye grass just grow like crazy.  I tilled into the patch 2lbs of kelp meal (not nearly enough) and about 15lbs of gypsum for the calcium.

After tilling the soil I put the hail netting up over the patch.  If you are wondering why you would put up hail netting over 1,000 square feet of pumpkin patch you haven't lived in Colorado the last two weeks.  Hail capital USA.

Both pumpkin plants seem really happy right now.  The 335 plant I've noticed has really come on the last few days.  The 1791 side vines are now growing quickly.  It is past the end of the hoop house but I'm going to try to keep it in the hoop house for a couple of more days.