Monday, May 18, 2015

Make The Plants Think They Are in Maui

When I was on the south shore of Maui last year, near the base of volcano I realized that I might have found an ideal growing area.  Moderate rain, volcanic rich soils and 84 degrees, year around could be a place that a world record pumpkin could be grown.  It is no wonder that Monsanto is all over the island.

Denver is no Maui, Rhode Island, Ohio or Napa Valley when it comes to pumpkin growing.  Cool springs, warmer than ideal summer days and cool nights with low humidity make pumpkin growing challenging.  Colorado has its obvious plus sides however, so I'm staying.

When it comes to the pumpkins however, you have to make them think they are in Maui.  This is somewhat easier to do in the Spring, when the pumpkins are in protected hoop houses.  With heat sources at night, the hoop houses stay a minimum of 5 degrees warmer than the outside temperatures, humidity is higher and on a sunny 65 degree day it is easy to have a hoop house at a perfect 85 degrees with a perfectly happy plant.

You've heard me moan about the weather in Colorado this spring.  Very little sun and cool every day for almost three weeks now and it doesn't look like this trend is going to break until maybe next week.  So you make the best of it.   As you can see in the picture at the right I have a full spectrum CFL bulb in a brooder to add some additional light on cloudy days like today.  Also, have a heat lamp going to keep it a touch warmer inside.  Trying to make these plants think they are in Maui. We aren't quite there yet, but getting a little closer.

7 comments:

Matt said...

A friend gave me one of your 401 Johnson seeds a few weeks ago and I planted it in a large pot on May 4th. Things are coming along very well, but I'm concerned about putting it in the ground with the weather we're having (I live in Parker). I also don't want it to become root bound in the pot. What's your recommendation? Should I take it to ground or leave it in the pot and hope the weather becomes more favorable in the next week or so?

Jamie Johnson said...

Thanks for your message Matt. How big is your pot? Probably your best short term solution would be to transplant into another pot. I'm in the same spot as you. Got the kids pumpkin plants started late. I have clear plastic over their planting spots to help keep the ground dry, but don't want to put the plants outdoors yet. They wouldn't die if I did put them outdoors, but better to keep them indoors right now.

Matt said...

Thanks for the quick replay Jamie. I'm not able to measure the diameter of the pot right now, but I'm fairly certain my mom said it was 14 inches when she gave it to me with a pepper plant last year. The plant just laid over from standing vertically this morning. Would you recommend me putting plastic over my planting spot as well? Or is it a foregone conclusion that the ground is totally saturated? Perhaps I'll follow your lead and put my plant in the ground once I see that you've put your kid's in.

Jamie Johnson said...

If the pot is 14" wide at the top then you should be fine for another week. If not, then you can consider transplanting. At this point it is probably too late to put plastic down.

Matt said...

Thanks for the info

Matt said...

Jamie, this turned out to be a 12" pot. Is this still okay or should I look to transplant?

Jamie Johnson said...

I would think you should be okay for another week.