Sunday, August 30, 2015

Calcium for the Plants & Bacterial Wilt Sucks

This evening I did a foliar application of calcium on the pumpkin plant and on the sprouting cover crop I put in last week.  The hope will be that the calcium will get taken in by the cover crop and then when I till that into the soil it will be ready for next year's plant.

I'm pretty sure, after talking with some other growers on and doing some reading that my 282 plant had bacterial wilt.  It basically gums up the sap in the pumpkin plant and eventually kills younger plants.  From what I've read "adult" plants can kind of fight it off to a certain degree.  I think my 1985 plant has it some.  The leaves have drooped slightly for the last month when the sun is out. Not nearly as bad as what the 282 plant was doing and how my kids plants do now, but for a month the plant just hasn't looked quite right.

The kids plants leaves droop when it is only 75 and sunny these days but perk back up when it clouds up or in the later part of the afternoon.  That is one of the signs of bacterial wilt.  My daughters 282 has had the main vine tip die off by about 3 feet.  Her plant has the same kind of gold color of the leaves near the stem as well.  My son's seems to be doing better in some ways but the growth on the pumpkin is slower than on my daughters.

One of the signs of bacterial wilt is if you cut the vine and then put the pieces back together and pull it back apart the sap kind of strings out.  All three plants are doing that.  I need to find a healthy plant and try the same things and see what it looks like for comparison.

The prevention of bacterial wilt is the same as yellow vine disease.  Kill the bugs that spread the bacteria that causes the disease.  I took my insecticides up a notch this year, but I guess it wasn't enough.  Only saw one squash bug and one cucumber beetle all year, but it only takes one.

For now, the 1985 pumpkin is still growing and based on the improved vine growth it isn't overly affected right now.  However, it is only putting on about 8 pounds a day right now, which is about what it has been doing for the last month. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kelp for Tired Pumpkin Leaves

Do a little test with some liquid kelp (aka seaweed) on a pumpkin leaf and you will see some of the power of kelp.  Put a drop of the kelp on a leaf and then pull that leaf from the plant and watch what happens were the spot of kelp was applied.  Over a number of days you'll see the majority of the leaf shrivel and dry out, but the spot were the kelp was applied will stay green longer. 

I personally have never done research as to why this happens, but I would guess it is a combination of nutrients and cytonkins in the kelp.  I know kelp can help pull nutrients into the plant, so my guess is that the hormones in the kelp along with the many nutrients it supplies gives it the ability to keeps the cells alive longer.  If you have a more scientific explanation, please let me know.

I like to use kelp on my plants.  I think tired old leaves that have been beaten up in the wind and hot sun during the summer can get a number of benefits from kelp this time of year (for that matter, all year around).  Healthy leaves late in the season add a lot of pounds to a pumpkin.  My biggest pumpkin had the healthiest looking leaves I've ever had later into the season.  The vast majority of the leaves were green and shiny right until we got a very big rain storm for a week in September and only after that did the plant start to show some age.

This evening I gave the 1985 Miller plant a foliar application of 2 tablespoons of liquid kelp, 1 tablespoon of liquid fish, with some fulvic acid and yucca.   I also sprayed some of it under the leaf canopy onto the ground.  Humic acid and/or fulvic acid enhances the benefits of kelp, so when doing foliar applications always apply a little of one or the other or both with the kelp.

I used to buy the bottle so liquid seaweed, but I found it cheaper to buy the dried, concentrate kelp and mix it with water.  The price is about the same for the two, but with the dried kelp you get gallons of product rather than just a small bottle.

How to Get 13% More Growth on Your Pumpkin in September

We are coming to the end of the season.  Not long now until the weigh-offs.  For some, they are looking at personal best pumpkins and possible state record giant pumpkins.  Even if you don't have a pumpkin this year quite as big as you would have liked it to be, there is still time to add a lot of weight to your pumpkin in September to finish it off.  What if you could add an additional 13% or more to your pumpkin by just doing three things?!  Wouldn't you do it?  It could make the difference in moving up one or two places in the standings.  And the solution is simple if you know the right fertilizers and nutrients for late season growth.

The first thing to do is to start foliar and soil applications of potassium sulfate.  Why specifically potassium sulfate?  The chart below from one study on cantaloupe tells the story:

The most interesting part of this chart is potassium in the fruit.  Potassium is found in large quantities in pumpkins, so the more you can get to the fruit the better.  In the same study yields were also found to be higher in cantaloupe receiving potassium sulfate.  In comparison to the control group, yields were 13% higher in the group receiving soil and foliar potassium sulfate over the control group.

Late in the season the potassium in the soil may start to become less than optimal or even deficient for what the roots can reach. One pumpkin study found:
    "If potassium is deficient or not supplied in adequate amounts, growth is stunted and yields are reduced . Potassium is associated with movement of water, nutrients and carbohydrates in plants. The relation between potassium and fruity vegetables such as pumpkin is well established long time ago. There is increasing evidence from the literature that optimizing the potassium nutritional status of plants can reduce the detrimental build up of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which result from various environmental stress factors. In addition, it is widely acceptable that in general, high potassium status in crops decreases the incidence of diseases and pests."
In my own soil reports from the spring to the spring of the next year, with no potassium being added to the soil, I've seen my potassium levels drop 500ppm.  Even if you have adequate levels of potassium in your soil it may not all be available to the plant, so supplemental potassium could help keep the plant from bonking late in the season.  Watch this video to learn more.

Second, foliar and soil applications of nitrogen at this point of the season might also be a good idea for the same reasons.  Although nitrogen tends to be more available to the plants that other nutrients, nitrogen levels can drop due to leaching from the heavy watering most growers do during the season as well as the plant using it up.  One grower, who is very knowledgeable and has grown some monsters once told me that some late season splits are sometimes due to inadequate nitrogen.  So giving the plant a little extra nitrogen now could pay off big time on the scale.

Lastly, giving your soil some RAW Cane Molasses now could also give you a lot on the scale later.  At this point of the season, when the demands on the plant are great and it is getting tired the plant can be more stingy giving sugars back to the soil microbes that are giving the plant nutrients.  Because of this the soil biology can start to slow down.  Applying some RAW Cane Molasses to soil can give those microbes an added boost so they will continue to give nutrients to the plant that will power the pumpkin's growth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Compost Tea Recipe for Giant Pumpkins

There are many great "recipes" for compost tea, but here is one that I like giant pumpkin plants: 

1/2 cup alfalfa pellets
2 dried leaves
1/4 cup compost
1 tsp RAW Silica
1 tsp liquid seaweed
1/4 tsp RAW Cane Molasses
1/4 tsp RAW Humic Acid

Put all of that in a mesh bag and then suspend the bag in a 5 gallon bucket of de-chlorinated water.  Aerate that water with a fish tank pump for about 24 hours and then pour the compost tea over the leaves and on the ground under the leaf canopy.  Your plant should love you for it.  The beneficial bacteria and fungi that you will be adding will help to feed and protect the plant and you will also get the benefits of the seaweed and alfalfa hormones which will help with the growth of the plant (and hopefully the pumpkin too.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TKO to fight Diseases and add Potassium

I did a foliar application of TKO this evening.  TKO is a good fungicide because the phosphites in it and I hope to help control the powdery mildew that is showing up on the 1985 Miller plant with it.  TKO is also a good source of potassium and since a good portion of a pumpkin is potassium, I hope to keep the fruit growing with that. 

Although TKO is listed as 0-29-26 I don't believe the phosphites in TKO actually apply much available phosphorous to the plant.  From what I have read in the past, although phosphites are more mobile in the plants, a plant prefers phosphates to phosphites so the uptake is less.  It may be that pumpkin leaves can absorb it and convert it to phosphates when applied as a foliar application, but I haven't read anything that it is necessarily true for Atlantic Giant pumpkin plants.

Monday, August 24, 2015

RAW Fertilizers for the Lawn & Pumpkins

Company is coming this week and I wanted to green up the lawn some, so this morning I sprayed a mixture of RAW Cal/Mag, RAW Grow, RAW Nitrogen and RAW Full Up just prior to the sprinkler system running.  The RAW fertilizers will work on the grass, garden and pumpkin patch.  The nitrogen in those fertilizers along with the magnesium, calcium and iron will make for a happy lawn.

I had just a little left over so I sprayed that where the cover crop was planted and then sprayed just a little under the leaf canopy of the 1985 Miller pumpkin plant.  Also put down a little calcium down on the ground.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Title the Picture 'The Lonelest thing in Pumpkin Growing'

Lots of unfullilled potential in this picture.  Pulled the 282 Scherber plant today and seeded the area with Soghurum Sudan grass seed.  It makes a nice cover crop, helps build myco in the soil and can help suppress bad nemotodes in the soil.  When tilled in as a green manure it will also add a lot organic mater to the soil along with the peat moss that I put down with the seed.  The second picture is the picture of the stump.  Not a bad size for mid-August.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Some Multi-mineral, Potassium, Lithovit & Insecticide for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I did a foliar application of multi-mineral, lithovit and potassium.  Also did an application of insecticide on the 1985 plant and on my kids plants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Dirty Word in Pumpkin Growing

It happened.  That phrase that makes all pumpkin growers cringe.  You might just call it the "B" word.  I hate to even have to say it, but here we go:  Blosoom End Split.

I lost the 282 Scherber pumpkin today to a blossom end split (BES).  We've had a descent amount of rain over the last couple of days and it split the pumpkin open.  Just too many problems this season.  I'll pull the plant this weekend and plant some sorghum sudan grass to get that spot ready for next season.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Alfalfa Compost Tea for Giant Pumpkins

Alfalfa pellets is one of my favorite soil amendments.  Not only is it a good source of NPK but it also contains a lot of different minerals and the plant hormone triacontanol, which can boost plant growth.  I'll typically add alfalfa to the soil in the fall and then again in early spring prior to tilling.

Alfalfa also makes a good compost tea.  It is a great way to apply triacontanol to the plant while giving it a boost of beneficial microbes.  I brewed an aerated compost tea for 36 hours which contained about 1 cup of alfalfa pellets, 1 teaspoon of silica and 1/8 teaspoon of cane molasses.  After the brew, I poured the tea over the leaves of the pumpkin plant and poured some on the ground as well.  That gives the pumpkins a little bit of everything that it needs to grow big.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Better Growth, So I'm Still Going to Push the Pumpkins Along

The 1985 pumpkin showed its best growth in the last three weeks yesterday, so I'm going to continue with moderate heavy watering with some spoon feeding of fertilizers (still not impressive numbers however, but we will take what we can get).  Today I have a soil application of RAW Potassium, RAW Cal/Mag and RAW Omina with some RAW Yucca included (learn more).  This 2nd half of the season I don't want the plants to run out of nitrogen so the Omina and Cal/Mag will help with that.  Particularly nitrates can get washed out of the soil, so the nitrate nitrogen will help with that along with add some calcium which the Omina will help with the uptake.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Biologically Feeding & Protecting the Plants with Microbes

Today I gave the plants a healthy dose of microbes with a heavy watering.  More specifically I gave the plant Actinovate with iron, Biotamax and Azos.  I used a sprayer with un-chlorinated water to spray under the leaf canopy and then watered the whole patch heavily to water it all in.  Some of these biologicals will help protect the plant and others will help to feed the plant.  A happy soil feed web means a happy pumpkin plant.

Trying a little experiment with the watering today to see if I can salvage this season some.  Watered for a full hour today to give it a good soaking.  I don't believe we've had any significant rain in the patch for a month, so I'm going to see if some deep watering might increase the growth some. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Multi-mineral and Lithovit for the Pumpkins

This evening I gave a foliar application of multi-mineral and lithovit to the plants.  Something isn't looking right on the 282 plant.  The leaves haven't looked quite right lately and the growth on the plant has seemed stunted.  I thought it was related to the water issue but there seems to be something else going on with the plant.  I'll continue to watch it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pumpkin Problem Resolved

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had some irrigation problems where it looked like the under the canopy irrigation didn't run or only partially ran for at least four days.  However, since then, I wasn't getting the growth on the pumpkins that I was expecting.  Today I think I figure out what has been going on this season.  The under the canopy watering runs off of well water.  My good neighbor, whose property I grow on, allows me to use his well for watering, which is great.  However, I discovered this morning, is that the pump seems to be having issues and at times the water pressure is very low and as a result the plants may have been getting only 1/2 to 1/3 of the water that they should have been getting.  I'm guessing that when I go out in the mornings there is enough water down that the ground looks wet but not the optima amount of water.  I've been monitoring the soil moisture for the last few weeks and have been adding additional water at times.  But today was the first morning that I went to add additional water and the water pressure was obviously low.  So low that when I went to water the kids plants there wasn't enough pressure to get any spray.  As a result the plants have been partially dehydrated for weeks.  Not enough that there has been obvious flagging, but enough that it has effected growth.  I haven't had this issue with the well in the past.  Kind of discouraging to lose a season because of it, but at least I know what is going on now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reflections at the Half Way Mark

We are about at the half way mark for most Colorado growers.  At about this time the pumpkins will have put on about 2/3 of their total weight that they will have when they go to the scale.  Some lucky growers may have pumpkins that put on even more weight than that.  No big pumpkins will come out of my patch this year.  A combination of factors, both in and out of my control, have limited my pumpkins potential.  You can't do much about a curios dog that decides it will take a bite out of a female flower that is primed to grow on two separate occasions. 

For the first quarter of the season I think I did things about as well as I have any season in the past.  Then a couple of miss-steps, without question, will have caused me a couple of hundred pounds on the scale at the end of the season.  A busy work and summer schedule opened the door to these mishaps.  Something to learn from for future years.

I'm still scratching my head some on the 1985 pumpkin.  I'm not sure I fully understand what happened with it.  I know that 4 days of poor watering messed up that pumpkin in some way, but I'm not sure why it was so affected and I suspect there is still something going on with that plant that I haven't fully discovered yet.

The 282 pumpkin is growing average.  Nothing special with it so far.  The plant itself doesn't seem to have that extra gear to really drive it along, but it is young so will have to see what happens two weeks from now.

I keep taking care of the plants like they are champs however.  Gave the plants some fish & seaweed with RAW Full Up and RAW Yucca included in the foliar application.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fertilizing the Giant Pumpkin Plants

Gave both of the plants some RAW Omina for the nitrogen and to help with calcium uptake in the plants.  That was mixed with liquid seaweed and RAW humic acid.  The liquid seaweed and humic acid will be a potassium source for the plant, but more imortantly will help with lateral growth of the roots and uptake of other nutrients in the plants.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

To Potassium or to Not Potassium the Pumpkin, That is the Question

A grower recently sent me a message about wanting to add a fair amount of potassium on his pumpkin plant to really get the growth going.  This was my reply:

"Adding additional potassium won't necessarily increase the growth rate of the pumpkin, unless it needs it. At this point of the season potassium can start to get depleted, because of the high demand of the pumpkin.  The soil may have ample potassium, but the rhizosphere around the root hairs may have a descent portion of the potassium used up.  So supplementing (i.e. spoon feeding) the plant with potassium can help that out.  However, took much potassium will lock up calcium in the soil and cause other problems so pouring it on my actually decrease growth rather than increase it."

I knew this growers feeling, however.  I've got a pumpkin that isn't growing the way it should and I've been tempted to give it a descent dose of potassium to push it along.  The best bet however, is to spoon feed it and see how the pumpkin reacts.  Potassium may not be the issue and jacking up the soil for not only this season, but possibly even next season isn't the way to go. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Compost Tea & TKO for the Pumpkin Plants

I watched a very interesting video today on soil biology from  If you haven't schedule yourself to attend one of the webinars do so.  They are very well done.

After watch the video I went out and gave both plants some aerated compost tea that I had been brewing for 36 hours.  The plants should like that.

This evening I gave the 282 Scherber plant some TKO.  That should help the plant push the pumpkin along. It is 11 days old now and growing fairly well.  It had the same day 10 measurement as my big pumpkin had two years ago.  Doesn't mean anything, but you would rather have it bigger than small.  The unfortunate thing with this pumpkin is that it will just be starting to pack on the pounds when we go into September.  Colorado's Septembers can have very sketchy weather.  Typically not snow, but cool fall like weather will slow the pumpkin down when it is really starting to grow.

1985 pumpkin is having problems and I'm not sure why.  Growth has fallen off.  No signs of disease yet and the vines are still growing well, but not seeing the kind of giant pumpkin growth that I would have expected from this plant.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Watching the Vine Tips to Figure Out What the Plant Needs

Over the last week or so I noticed the the vine tips on the 282 Scherber plant hasn't had much mass.  Often times that indicates that the pumpkin is sucking the life out of the plant (which is a good thing) as the plant starts putting all of its energy to growing the pumpkin.  In this case, the pumpkin is only the size of a football because of the late pollination, so I knew that wasn't the case.  In most cases I would have given the plant some nitrogen earlier, but I didn't want to do anything that could cause the fruit to abort so I've held of on giving it nitrogen. 

Today I have it a foliar spray of RAW Nitrogen with some liquid fish fertilizer.  The RAW Nitrogen will give the plant an instant nitrogen fix, while the nitrogen in the fish will be a slower release and also give the plant some phosphorus and potassium as well as micro minerals along with it.  In the next couple of days I should see the vine tips on that plant perk up some and see more leaf mass in the head of the vine tip.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Protecting the Pumpkin Leaves & Battling Powdery Mildew

The first week of August I always recommend an application of Actinovate and RAW Silica to the pumpkin leaves to help battle powdery mildew and other leaf diseases.  At this point of the season older leaves become vulnerable to diseases as they lose their resistance due to age.  Once these leaves get infected they become the base camp to spread spores to other leaves and then you can start getting problems.  Actinovate is a biological fungicide that I've found to be effective in helping keep powdery mildew at bay.  Once you have powdery mildew it can only help minimally, but if you start applying the end of July and beginning of August you'll find your leaves do considerably better to the end of the season.  You'll still get some powdery mildew, but it will be controlled much better than without it.

RAW Silica is a biogenic silica that works as part of the systemic resistance of the plant.  The plant takes the silica to the points of infection and crystalizes the cells around the infection to make it more difficult for the disease to spread.  Unlike most silica products on the market, the RAW Silica is Ph neutral so it isn't as high in Ph as most products which makes it more friendly to beneficial bio organisms.  You can't over use a biogenic silica, like you can a potassium silica, because the plant can only take in so much, so you can use it every week to get the multiple benefits of silica.

The Actinovate I applied earlier this week I noticed was past its expiration date so I reapplied from a new bag today along with the silica.