Friday, May 17, 2019

Grow Lights for Cold, Cloudy Weather

I've seen this before.  Back in 2013 Denver had its of its worst Mays that I can recall.  I believe there was three days that the sun cracked through the clouds at all that year.  By the end of the month my plants looked a little lime green.  I thought at the time that my season would be dismal.   It turned out that it couldn't be further from the truth.  I grew my biggest pumpkin that year and by the inches was way above state record territory.  Two other growers also had the inches to be state records as well and one turned out to be the new state record.  The lesson was that every growing day is an import day, but maybe May is not an overly import month.

The forecast for the next 10 days looks pretty bad.  Highs in the low 50s with cloudy/rainy weather.  The rain doesn't bother me at all and actually I'm for it.  Since the plants are in hoop houses/greenhouses they don't know when it rains and it is good for the rest of the patch.  The lack of warmth is a mild problem.  I have heat lamps in all of the hoop houses, so we can probably keep the plants at least at 70 degrees during the day and maybe warmer.

The lack of sun is a bigger problem. In the greenhouse I've hooked up two grow lights over the two plants.  This will give a little supplemental light to the plants and allow me to keep the plants covered for warmth a little longer in the morning.

Hoping June has much better weather.  It is an important month.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Goodness

I've been keeping the most important things going in the pumpkin patch, but it has been a struggle.  My dear mother-in-law passed away a little over two weeks ago, so the whole family headed to Canada for the funeral.  The timing wasn't great for pumpkin growing.  Two days before heading out I finally had a window to get the plants in the ground, but for that first week the plants tend to be pretty sensitive to the wind, temperature and bright sun, so I usually baby them for the first couple of weeks while they wire up.

A good friend volunteered to take care of the plants while I was gone.  He basically turned the heat lamps on and off and opened and closed the doors each day.  The 2255 plants fared rather nicely, but the 2005 plants struggled.  The two days I was home before heading out of town the 2005 plants did very nicely, so I thought we were safe, but looking back it was cloudy and cool.  The sun came out the 2nd day I was gone and some of the leaves burnt badly.  I think that was due to the fact the plants were in the pots a little too long, so the plant had gotten bigger than its roots could fully support.

All plants seem to be growing nicely, but the 2005 leaf color is a little light.  Yesterday I gave the plants some 7-4-5.   Today I gave the 2005 a little cane molasses in the water and then did a foliar spray of multi-mineral on all of the plants with just a very small touch of nitrogen added.

Weather for the next 7 days looks like rain, clouds and cool temperatures, so not ideal.     

Monday, May 6, 2019

Planted the Pumpkin Plants Finally (Kind of)

This morning was beautiful.  Clear blue skies.  No wind.  So I took advantage of it quickly and got the final setup done and got the the 2255 plants in the ground.  A little more than a week late, but better late than never.  

Cold night time lows (23 degrees twice this last week) and lots of strong wind has made it difficult to get much done.  Today wasn't much different.   Beautiful to start with but then the winds kicked up.  15-20 mph winds right now so I haven't got the 2005 plants in the ground yet.   I suspect things will calm down in the next two hours, so hopefully I can have everything planted by this evening.

In each planting hole I added Actinovate, azos, mykos, seaweed and some humic acid.  I then water the plants with some compost tea that had alfala, compost, BiotaMax, and a little molasses, seaweed and humic acid.

I kind of hate getting the plants planted three weeks after seed starting because you don't want the plant to get root bound, but also I find they don't transition to the outdoors as well when they get too large.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

CO2 in the Seed Starting Grow Closet & Hoop Houses

I've done some DIY C02 generators in the past, but I've always put them in the hoop houses.  I've never really known if they provided any real benefit, but I knew they did produce some gas, because if I pinched the straw I could feel the pressure building.

In you haven't read my interview with Eddy, view it here.  In it he details how he used CO2, was well as other things, to grow a 2255 pound pumpkin last year.  This year I decided to try something new.  I put my DIY CO2 generator and put it in my grow closet (standard closet with grow lights in it that I use to start my plants).  For the first time today, I put a CO2 sensor in my closet and was pleasantly suprised withe the results.  My ambient, outdoor CO2 after calibrating was 360ppm (awe, the fresh mountain air).  Typical would be around  400ppm.  In my grow closet right now it is 858ppm.  So that CO2 generator is doing its job with nearly double the CO2.   I'll be putting these same CO2 generators in the hoop houses.

Eddy says he targets around 900ppm.   Most professional growers will typically target 1000-1500ppm. 

How do you make a CO2 generator.  There are lots of great videos on youtube, but it is easy.  I just take a milk jug and drill a hole in the cap so a straw would snuggly put int he hole.  I then glued around the edge of the hole after inserting the straw.  Put some warm water, a cup of sugar and some yeast in the jug.  It will foam up sometimes, so don't put more than 1/3 of container full of the mixture.  It doesn't take long for that yeast to start breaking down those sugars and for CO2 to start generating.  Mix the container daily to help keep it going longer.