Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How it All Started

 Received this photo via email from Bill Orchard.  He has been very kind to stay in touch with us since moving from Denver to keep us updated on the Festival of Scarecrows pumpkin weigh-off.  It all started with an idea of growing the biggest pumpkin in the neighborhood to be used as a jack-o-lantern.  It turned into what some have called an obsession (I prefer passion).

We had moved into a new house and I put in a garden and when at the garden center I decided to grab a Prize Winner variety pumpkin plant.  Typically they won't get bigger than about 150 pounds, so it wasn't the ideal choice, but I didn't know better at the time.

At the end of the season I had what I thought was a pretty big pumpkin.  So I decided to find a local weigh-off that I could take my pumpkin to.  To my surprise, I ended up with 1st prize at 141.5 pounds.  One pound heavier than the 2nd place winner.  

It was fun and I wanted to learn more.  That winter I read up and got some Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds from Howard Dill, the inventor or the seed.  That next year my pumpkin weighed in at 755 pounds and the rest is history.



Thursday, August 25, 2022

2022 Has Been a Tough Season in the Pumpkin Patch

 This has been a tough season in the pumpkin patch this year.  My son's pumpkin got eaten by a deer and my plant has had something wrong with it for about a month now.  After the pumpkin there has been little to no vine growth and the pumpkin has grown very slow.  It is strange, because vine growth before the pumpkin has been normal, so I've just let those vines go, in order to have new leaves to power late season growth.  Not a great season this year.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Pumpkin Growing Time

Goodness.  I'm delinquent in doing new posts and my notes aren't very good.  If I remember right, I self-pollinated the first pumpkin that is at 11' on June 16th.  I have a second pollination as a backup at 14', but the 11' pollination I'm happy with, so I'm going to stay with it.  It is bowling ball shaped.  In about 10-12 days it should be kicking into gear.

I've continued with the daily, put it to the floor fertilizer program.  growth has been pretty good.  In particular, the side vine growth seems to be a little more aggressive on the plant.  I suspect I'll have all of the side vines terminated before the pumpkin this next week.

The leaves on this plant are relatively small and short.  Seems to be a genetic trait.  I think I have room to do even more fertilizer than I've been doing so I started taking it up a notch yesterday.  I'm interested to see how the plant reacts once 3/4 of it is terminated.  Will I start getting much bigger leaves and vines?

Weather this year has not been ideal for me.  Coolest spring and early summer in the last 6 years.  Will be heating up this next week, but the overnight lows have been in the 40s most of the nights.  That is okay and slightly better for me when the plant is in the hoop house, because it is easy to heat it up, but since the plant has been out of the hoop house for about 3 weeks, there isn't much you can do for it at night.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Pumpkin Plant Sunbathing to Harden them Off.

I try to get my pumpkin plants out from under the lights and in the sun as often as I can before I get them into the ground.  Often if the plants don't get use to the bright sun, heat and wind, they get pretty moody when they get planted.  The leaves will fold like closed umbrellas and to a new grower it looks like they are going to die.  As long as you protect them, they typically snap out of it after a little while as the root system grows out into the soil.  Giving them a little extra water and misting them during hot days also helps.

Usually the first time I put my plants under the sun they begin to look a little droopy after an hour or two.  Today I had the plants out in the sun for the first time for about 4 1/2 hours and they were still doing good.  I had to taken them in because the wind was starting to kick up a little.  I would have liked to get the plants under the sun earlier, but snow, wind and cold temps haven't allowed that until today.

Color for all four plants looks good and growth has been good.  I've been pretty much keeping with the put the pedal to the floor theory and giving the plants just a little fertilizer with each watering.  Can't see I've seen anything negative with that so far.

I hope to get the plants into the ground on Monday.

Watermelon seeds germinated but then I lost both of them in the pots.  Probably didn't keep the soil moist enough.  So I've started two 341 Vial seeds on May 28th.   Both seeds were from the 2nd biggest watermelon ever grown in the world.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Soak, Sanded and Sprouted--Yea, We are Growing Again


Started the pumpkin and watermelon seeds on April 15th.  All four are germinated now and in their pots.  One of the 2047 seeds looks like it might have clubroot, so I contacted the doctor (Scherber) and he suggested putting a little azos on the root, which I did.  In about 1 1/2 weeks I'll move the plants into their hoop houses outdoors.  For right now they are all in my grow closet, under the grow lights with a little space heater to keep the temperature in the 80s.

One thing you should always do is figure the number of growing days and then make sure your starting date is going to get you at least 90 days of pumpkin growing after pollination.  Depending on which weigh-off the pumpkin goes to, if I pollinate around June 24th, that gives me 92-99 days until the weigh-off.  Must pumpkins will stop between 90-100 days.  I have had a couple grow 105 days before however. Weather, genetics and plant health can become key factors for how many days you can get.

In the pots I use ProMix BX soil-less potting soil along with some beneficial microbes, azos and myco.  I'm going to do something this year that I haven't done in the past.  With each watering, I'm going to put just a very small amount of water soluble fertilizer.  The plan is to tell the plants that there is lots of food available, right from the start, so the plant will beef up and be ready grow.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Pumpkin Patch is Tilled and Amended

Today I put down some peat moss, a little compost, copper, boron, manganese, iron, elemental sulfur and humic acid as per my soil test recommendations I got results back a week ago.  After that I tilled it all in. 
The peat moss is added to help the tilth, CEC, increase moisture/nutrient holding capacity and to create air pockets for the roots.  This loamy soil is looking and feeling very nice right now.

After tilling, I put down some winter rye grass seed on the second half of the greenhouse, which I will till in around the beginning of June when the pumpkin plants vine starts to run.   The rye grass will help to suppress weeds, reduce soil compression and add organic matter back into the soil.

Around April 15th I'll start my seeds.  As mentioned before, I'll be growing the 2047 Bowman, which was the first pumpkin to ever go to a scale in Utah and go over a ton.  The pollinator on that plant was Utah state record pumpkin, so I like the cross.   I'll also be growing a giant watermelon this year also.  The seed I'll be growing produced the 2nd biggest watermelon ever grown in the world this last year.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

What Fertilizer to Use for Giant Pumpkins & Irrigation Water Flow Rate


I'm putting this post here for my own notes.  This is something I should have done before, but it is a first time.  It is an estimate of the flow Rate of my Dan Micro sprinkler heads.  I'm using this flow rate to help me better target how much fertilizer to use.  Hard to get an exact number, because the flow through the Dan Micros wouldn't be the same as what would be coming out the end of a pipe or hose.  That is because there wouldn't be any water pressure that is created by the sprinkler heads.  I estimate a flow of about 5 gallons per minute.  I'm going to increase my watering this year as well as my fertilizers.  So this flow rate will help me figure out how much fertilizer to spoon feed per day.

The two main fertilizers I'm going to be using this year are NPK RAW Grow 7-4-5 and Cactus Jack's Citrus FeED 20-10-20.  A citrus fertilizer?  What you see on the label is often more hype than informational.  In most cases a fertilizer is a fertilizer.  The NPK rating is standardized by law.  Now there may be additional ingredients that are specifically formulated for certain plants, but typically there is not a big difference.

Ross Bowman grew three massive pumpkins this last year using a Peter's 20-20-20 fertilizer.  The 20-10-20 fertilizer I'm using early season is made by the same manufacturer, the nutrient profile is slightly different in percentages (more magnesium in my Citrus FeED fertilizer) and my fertilizer has half the phosphorous, but they are essentially the same.

I'm doing a 20-10-20 because I don't think the plants need a lot of phosphorous, particularly early is the season.  My soil tests in the spring of each year have shown that the numbers don't move down a ton.  Nitrogen and potassium numbers drop a lot in the soil by the end of the season in contrast. The other reason I'm going to use less phosphorous is Beni Meyer in his miracle year, where he grew 3 pumpkins that were bigger than the previous world record, used a 15-8-17 fertilizer (percentage wise roughly works out to a 20-10-20).  I don't know the specific reasons he used that, but if it worked for him, then it can't be a bad way to go and there may not be a build up of phosphorus in the soil over time. 

I'm also going to use the RAW Grow 7-4-5 because of the long list of micro nutrients and stimulants (growth hormones) it contains.  It isn't labeled organic, but it leans very close to an organic fertilizer.  Its nitrogen source is a plant protein hydrolysate, which studies have shown to be somewhat superior to other forms of nitrogen.  It is a little more on the pricey side, so using the Cactus Jack's helps keep the overall cost down.

In the end, it may not matter if it is 20-10-20, 20-20-20, 7-4-5, 15-8-17 or something else.  It seems these Atlantic Giant plants are special.  They seem to be able take up what they need, as long as it is available and things are kept generally in balance.  I say "generally" because if you look at soil tests of growers who have grown some really giant pumpkins you find there is inconsistency in soil pH, NPK, organic matter, etc.  So the plants seem to handle a range, but I think the key is balance.

(notes:  Cactus Jack 24 ounces per container = 48 tablespoons.  Feed 2 tablespoons per watering.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

New & Improved Put it to the Floor, Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer Program


Are you ready to rock!  That is what this new and improved 2022 giant pumpkin fertilizer program makes me want to say.  I'm excited about it. Why?  Because I think it has the answers to a question I've been asking since the first year I put a giant pumpkin plant is the soil.  How much to fertilize?  This last year I increased my fertilization, but what I found is I didn't do enough. 

As a matter-o-fact, I was still way under fertilizing I've found, based on what I've learned from other growers and seen form my own experience.  And I'm fertilizing probably not soon enough in the season.  How do I know this?  I asked the experts, starting with Utah's own record holder Ross Bowman.  At the patch tour I asked him how much potassium he was spoon feeding his pumpkins with a day?  It was double what I was doing and I was wondering if I was doing too much.  His results?  Two pumpkins over one ton each.

So the other piece of what I'm going to be doing differently in 2022 is I'm going to start fertilizing earlier.  If you've ever gone on a patch tour and saw the other guy's pumpkins and then went home and tried dumping a bunch of fertilizer on the plant in the hopes for better growth, you'll typically find it doesn't work.  Why?  Number of reasons, but one of the bigger is that the plant hasn't been primed to need it, so it is probably throwing the soil out of balance some, rather than helping.

If you've ever seen a plant mid-season that has a real nice pumpkin on it, often times the plant just seems meatier.  Like everything on the plant just wants to grow.  The stump is bigger, the vines are thicker and the leaves are often larger than normal.  Those pieces don't grow bigger unless their are the nutrients available to grow them.  It is a fine balance to keep things in the Goldielocks zone, but when it is dialed in the plant starts building bigger pipes to grow the pumpkin and the plant is primed to take on more fertilization and use it.  If you get started too late, that demand isn't created and extra fertilizers can throw things out of balance.

So in 2022 I'm going to be using the McConkie "put the petal to the floor method."  Which was the piece that I've always struggled with in the past.  In this method you spoon feed the plant with a fair amount of fertilizer until you start seeing things getting off (leaves start bloating, dark green color, maybe some brittleness in the vines) and then you start backing off significantly.  So basically you watch the plant closely and let it tell you when it has got to the point that it has a little too much and by doing so you get that plant in top gear and then brake a little before you hit the wall.  Doing it this way means the plant shouldn't lack for anything and you get that piping built for a giant.

So the following is what the 2022 Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer program looks like now.  Everything has a purpose for when it is applied.  Nutrients are given on specific weeks to address specific needs that the plant has at different times in the season in this fertilizer program.  How much is applied is somewhat dependent on your soil type, your soil report and what the plant is telling you:


Updated 3/25/22

May (focusing on the roots):
Week 1RAW 7-4-5, RAW Phosphorous (mono ammonium), B-vitamin, liquid seaweed/kelp, compost tea (alfalfa), myco, microbes & Azos, yucca, humic acid
Week 2RAW 7-4-5, 20-10-20, compost tea (alfalfa), fulvic acid, yucca, silica, seaweed, humic acid, foliar multi-mineral, myco
Week 3RAW 7-4-5, 20-10-20, compost tea (alfalfa), humic acid, yucca, fish, Azos, enzymes, amino acids, iron, myco
Week 4ammonium sulfate, 20-10-20, RAW 7-4-5, Omina, silica, fulvic acid, Azos, seaweed, humic acid, calmag, microbes, myco

June (focus on vine growing):
Week 520-20-20, enzymes, humic acid, RAW 7-4-5, azos, ammonium sulfate, calmag, aminos, myco
Week 6RAW 7-4-5, 20-20-20, fulvic acid, microbes, ammonium sulfate, potassium, azos, myco
Week 7(pollination) 20-20-20, seaweed, humic acid, RAW 3-12-12, Omina, iron, azos, ammonium sulfate, foliar multi-mineral, myco
Week 8gypsum, aminos, TKO, humic acid, yucca, azos, potassium, ammonium sulfate, microbes, myco

July (focus on transitioning from vine growth to fruit):
Week 9enzymes, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, fulvic acid, seaweed, ammonium sulfate, azos, myco
Week 10gypsum, aminos, ammonium sulfate, potassium, humic acid, compost tea, potassium, RAW 3-12-12, zinc, magnesium, manganese, boron, copper, microbes, myco
Week 11(pumpkin gearing up), TKO, potassium, magnesium, humic acid, B-vitamins, calmag, Omina, seaweed, RAW 3-12-12, myco
Week 12ammonium sulfate, RAW 3-12-12, cane molasses, humic acid, potassium, magnesium, calmag, iron, humic acid, microbes, myco, azos

August (focus on the fruit)
Week 13TKO, ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, foliar silica, microbes, seaweed, humic acid, myco, azos
Week 14ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, Azos, humic acid, calmag, B-vitamins, Omina, foliar multi-mineral
Week 15ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, foliar silica, humic acid, microbes
Week 16TKO, ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, cane molasses, fulvic acid, seaweed

September (finish the race)
Week 17potassium, magnesium, humic acid, foliar seaweed, B-vitamins, RAW 3-12-12, compost tea, Omina
Week 18TKO, potassium, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid, cane molasses, silica
Week 19foliar potassium, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, humic acid
Week 20foliar potassium, foliar seaweed, humic acid



Monday, February 28, 2022

Hello 2022 Giant Pumpkin/Watermelon Season!

It is that time of the year again.  Yea know, when you get maybe a few semi-spring like days and you can smell the earth and then the pumpkin patch starts calling.  I could use some good earth time these days.  I'm way past due for a post here on the blog.  I have done some research this off season that I plan to implement this season.  I'm hoping that my health and work will allow me some quality time in the patch this year, because I'd really love to go after it this year.  I've been inspired by the UGPG members over the last two years.  A LOT of really big pumpkins being grown and I've been kind of on the sidelines the last two years.  Going have to step it up this year.

Watching pumpkins grow over the last 15 years, I can tell you that the difference between growing a 800 pound pumpkin and a 1,000 pounder and a 1,500 pounder is usually weather and then just a few key things being done better.  Now what those key things are will often be different for each person.  They might even be slightly different from year to year.  But for the most part, it is often a little more of this or a little less or that.  And once those items are dialed in, then amazing things start happening (most of the time).

So what am I going to do differently in 2022.  I'm going to do the same thing I said I was going to do the last two years, but didn't really do it.  That is feed the plant more and feed the plant earlier.  I've always been a little hesitant on that, because I haven't really known what the upper limit is on fertilization.  I still don't.  But I finally have a measuring stick that I'm going to use to get it dialed in.  Matt McConkie told me last year to hit the plant early with the spoon feeding and then put the foot on the gas until it seems like it is too much and then back off a little.  


Looking at and talking to Ross about what he was doing with his 2,000+ pound pumpkins matches that.  His soil was kept pretty wet.  I asked him how much potassium he was giving this plants and it was double what I was doing and what I thought I was doing was maybe too much.  So I'm still starving the plants.

It is no wonder that the plant that produced my biggest pumpkin was also the one I thought I accidentally over fertilized in the middle of the season.  Looking back at it now, I was a little to late "over fertilizing" then plant and I was probably at about what I should have been when I was over doing it.

So this year, I'll feed them until I see growth, color, vine stiffness, etc that seems to be off and then I'll dial it back some.

I'd like to thank the growers that have very kindly provided me seeds for this year.  I think all of the growers gave me more than what I asked for, which is very kind.  They will be put to good use.

I'll be growing the 2047 Bowman this next year.  It is the reverse cross of Ross' big one.  I've always preferred the bigger pumpkin of the cross to be mama.  There is a little evidence that you get better progeny that way, but it isn't always the case.  Also, sometimes easier to get the seeds as most growers like to grow the big one.  It is an ego thing, but understandable.

I'm going to try something new this year.  Growing something that I can eat in the garden.  A strange concept I know.  I've wanted to do this for years.  I'm going to grow a giant watermelon.  I'm excited about this.  Not as much work as growing a pumpkin I'm told, but I'll have lots to learn.  The 330 Vial seed grew a 341 pound watermelon this year.  That seems kind of fun, because you can eat it with all of your friends when you are done.  Lol

 My son is going to grow the 1398 seed again.  He got a personal best off that seed last year, so I figured, why not give it a try again.  It had great color and grew nicely.  I'm sure if a heavy hitter grower decided to give it a try, there is a very good chance they could pop a big one off of it.  The 1885 Werner (which just grew the world record) crossed with 1501 which has popped a lot of big pumpkins is a nice cross.  So we'll see if he can prove that out this year. 


Monday, September 27, 2021

It's in the Books; The Pumpkins have Hit the Scales

This year was kind of a challenging year for pumpkin growing.  The pumpkin was doing okay until smoke, cold nights and aphid problems just wouldn't let the pumpkin grow the last third of the season.  The pumpkin only put on 40lbs over the last 30 days, which is horrible.  In the end the pumpkin ended up at 902 pounds.

My son on the other hand had a pumpkin that was pretty much the little engine that could.  He got yellow vine disease a little over a month ago and usually the pumpkin stops growing when it takes hold, but that pumpkin kept pushing along.  In the end he ended up with a personal best 674 pound pumpkin that was a very nice orange color.

The big winner on the day was Ross, who set a new Utah State record with two pumpkins over one ton and the biggest at 2,142 pounds.  Just a great accomplishment for a great guy.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Inspired by the UGPG Annual Patch Tour Yesterday

I went to the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers patch tour yesterday.  Some inspiring patches to see.  All of them could be learned from.  Two of the last stops on the tour had some truly amazing pumpkins growing in them.  The first had three giants going.  The biggest estimated around 1,500 pounds and has been putting on as much at 60lbs per day.  The second has a pumpkin that is about 2 1/2 weeks older and was estimated at about 1,600 pounds.  To still be in July and see pumpkins with another 50 days to grow and  at those sizes is awe inspiring to see.  One ton pumpkins could be possible for both if they can keep those pumpkins together.

My takeaway from the tour is I need to feed the plant more.  I have been doing about half the potassium that the grower with the pumpkin doing 60lbs per day has been doing.  I've always struggled with how much to feed the plants.  My new strategy is the eyeball test.  Spoon feed them high amounts until something seems a little off and then start backing off.  I know a lot of growers who do testing of the fertilizer solution until it gets tot he right PPM.  That isn't a bad strategy, but with the eyeball test you can take the plant right up to the edge of what it can optimally handle and then leave it there. You don't necessarily get that with PPM testing.


Friday, July 30, 2021

56 Growing Days Remaining

Today we are at 56 days until we cut the pumpkin off the vine.   Typically, after the first week of September, I get very little growth, because I'm battling frost.  So I probably have about 40 days of growing left, based on past experience.  I'm on day 43 since the pumpkin was pollinated so give or take, we are at the half way mark.  

 Right now I continue to spoon feed nitrogen and potassium on a nearly daily basis and I rotate in some phosphorous from time to time as well.  Lately I've also been adding in just a touch of micro nutrients as I don't want the plant to bonk this second half of the season and need to make sure it is getting everything it needs and doesn't start to become deficient.  

As I watch the Olympics I'm reminded that often it is just the little things between Gold, Silver and 10th place.  If your plant becomes deficient in any on nutrient then pumpkin growth is limited.  The reverse is also true.  Too much of most nutrients and pumpkin growth is limited.  So the ideal isn't actually putting the pedal all the way to the floor.  It is just a sliver above the floor where everything the pumpkin needs is available, but not so much it starts to inhibiting uptake of other nutrients.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

 At least that is what I like to tell myself.  Slow and steady.  But I wish it would crank it up some when it comes to the pumpkin's growth.  Right now the pumpkin is putting on a very consistent 25lbs a day.  It has been doing that every day since I started measuring it 10 days ago.  It really should be somewhere near 40 lbs per day right now.   However, there is still hope.

My biggest pumpkin was pollinated two days later than this one and this pumpkin is ahead of it, believe it or not.  That pumpkin that ended up at 1,325 was under my current pumpkins weight on this same date by a fair amount.  So, if this pumpkin can sustain the slow and steady through August, I should be in okay shape at the end of the year.  About 60 days of growing left to go.

I'm not sure what color this pumpkin is going to end up at.  Yellowing right now, but will a little hints of white and orange in it.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Time to Watch for Bugs

This week I've seen two aphids on the pumpkin.  Little green sucking bugs that suck.  I'm not great with insecticides, so I'm not going to write much about them here.  Must of what I've used have come from recommendations on bigpumpkins.com.  I've been fortunate in that I haven't seen much bug or disease pressure over the years, but I have been hit from time to time.  Because of that I would say I've used a relatively mild rotation of products.  I like bees, but I hate losing plants to disease spread by bugs.  So, I think there can be a somewhat happy minimum that you can use to minimize environmental impact. 

You can go the organic route or the pesticide route and there are pluses and minuses for both.  What I have been doing the last few days is at first I put down a contactant.  Then a couple of days later I put down a systemic.  And since then I've been spraying the leaves to wash off and hopefully kill the buggers with a mildly strong spray of water.

Friday, July 16, 2021

What I'm Looking at for the Pumpkin this Time of Year

At this point pumpkin growth doesn't appear to be breaking any records this year, it is growing.  I haven't measured in a while.  Over the last few years of growing I've found this time of year to maybe be a little less important and my sanity is better if I just eyeball it.  For some reason my peak growth seems to start a little later here in Midway then it did in Colorado.  Typically at around day 28 the pumpkin really starts to crank up the growth, but how high and how fast, seems to come later here.

What I am reading the plant for right now is what the potential is looking like.  Last year, about this time, my older leaves looked sad.   I believe that was at least in part do to spider mites or maybe aphids.  But the growth of the pumpkin was not good last year until the leaves after the pumpkin got mature in size.  I think that was possibly also maybe due to under fertilizing the first half of the season last year.

This year the leaves look really big, green and healthy.  Even the oldest leaves look to be in pretty good shape.  Vine growth is also good.  By Monday I believe the plant will be fully terminated due to no more space to grow in the greenhouse.  

Right now I'm at day 28th for growth, so the timing is pretty good.  What I'm seeing in the plant is it has energy to spare.  Since 85% of the plant is terminated right now I'm having sucker vines popping up that are growing aggressively.  The plant has all of this energy and it just doesn't know what to do with it all.   Leaves on the plant are getting taller and big too.   I think I've got a lot of the 2416 Haist side in my plant.  Once this plant makes the pumpkin the main sink, I believe the pumpkin will want to take off as all of that salad energy transitions to pumpkin energy.  At least that is what I expect and hope to see happen.

Very hot summer this year after a cool spring.  Not sure if the heat is an advantage or disadvantage in my cooler climate, but I think it is an advantage (although don't tell my drought stricken lawn that).   Nights are a few degrees warmer, mornings warm up more quickly and generally I can keep the greenhouse under 89 degrees during the heat of the day, so I think it slightly plays in my favor.

Weather is going to play a descent factor in where this pumpkin ends up.  During the summer I don't see the trend changing until September.   September will be do or die.  Usually I get frost the 2nd week of September, but if the weather can be a little more kind, maybe I can get a full 100 days of growth on the pumpkin to see its full potential.

For a bit, I thought this pumpkin was going to go white (I've never grown a white pumpkin before), but now it looks like it will maybe go yellow, like the 2009 Wallace did.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Some Fugicide & Insectocide for Pumpkin Plant

 We've been in the high 90s and low 100s for the last week+ so I've been running the misters extra long, sometimes, during the heat of the day running the misters non-stop for 4-5 hours a day, to keep the greenhouse in the 80s.   Normally I have the misters run for 1 minute during the heat of the day every 15 minutes.  That is enough to cool the green house by about 5 degrees, which is typically enough during the hot part of my summer days.  It is also enough time, with the greenhouse fans running to dry off the leaves between each misting, which helps to reduce disease pressure.

This morning I sprayed a combination of three different insecticides and one fungicide to help keep the plant from getting diseases.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference in Growing a Giant Pumpkin

 Last year I went to the GPC pumpkin seminar.  A number of great speakers at the event.  Joe Jutras, former world record holder for giant pumpkins, gave a presentation and most of it I don't specifically recall, but the part that grabbed me is when he talked about terminating the vines at the edge of the pumpkin patch.  Once you cut off a vine tip, the vine will stop growing.  Because at the vine tip on the plant typically has the vines up in the air, you can't bury the vines at the last leaf node at the end of the vine, because they don't lay down on the ground.  

At each leaf node, a plant will grow a root.   So to get more roots growing at the end of the vine, Joe said he let the plant grow out 2 feet beyond the edge of the patch and then would cut it off after the leaf node so he could get the vine to lay down so he could roots  at that last leaf node.  Brilliant!

Why would that be brilliant?  Well, the difference between a 1,500 pound pumpkin and a one ton pumpkin is usually not one or two things, but 20 or 30 different little things.  Every time you don't bury the vines because it is too hot outside in July or maybe don't bury the vines deep enough you can scratch off a pound or two off the pumpkin and those pounds add up over time.  

Joe, by allowing roots to grow at the last leaf node was capturing probably 45 more leaf nodes around the edge of the patch to grow roots that can help power the pumpkin.  Would those 45 more leaf nodes produce 45 extra pounds on the pumpkin by the end of the season?  No way to really know, but it would be highly unlikely that it not add some positive results on the pumpkin with all of those extra roots powering the pumpkin.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Foliar Feeding the Pumpkin Plant


Today I did a foliar application of 7-4-5 and multimineral on the plants.  The multimineral is a blend of chelated minerals that are essential to the plant.  Foliar feeding can be helpful, because it can give the plant what it needs through the leaf tissue that it may not be able to adequately take up via the roots.  I don't prefer to do a lot of foliar feeding, because I think it can be hard on the leaves, but I think some is a good idea.

Plant has been growing really nicely over the last week.  I think in about two weeks I'll be fully terminated.  Main vine is about 5 feet from the end of the greenhouse.  The pumpkin growth is relatively slow however.  That isn't untypical for me however this time of year.  Not sure why, but early growth has been slow the previous years here as well.  But then around day 30 after pollination it starts picking up speed, but not big growth and the growth after that has traditionally been steady for a long period.

I'm loving the smoothness and length on this pumpkin.

This year I'm going to try doing something different.  Around day 28, I'm going to add some heat over night in the greenhouse for about 10 days.  Too cost prohibitive to do more than that.  I believe my limiting factor is the nigh time temps and I want to see if I get the greenhouse 7 degrees warmer at night if I see better pumpkin gains.

Today my son pollinated his 1398 Janowaik (1501 VanderWielen x 1885 Werner) with my 1825 Sadiq.  The plan was to self it, but there were no male flowers available.  His plant's growth has been somewhat slow, so for the last couple of weeks we've been throwing more nitrogen at it and it is starting to take off now.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Fungicide and Pesticide for the Plants

 This evening I used a fungicide and pesticide on the pumpkin plants.   I've been doing a lot of extra misting through the foggers over the last week because of some brutal heat with lots of wind and that is going to push disease pressure up on the plants.  To help with that I've sprayed the leaves.  Some growers do chemical applications and others use all organic.  I think there can be a place for both depending on your needs and what you are trying to do.   Either way, you'll eventually run into a situation were one, other or both will be needed in the pumpkin patch and you need to do it before you start seeing the problems.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Pumpkin Tissue Test at Polliniation Time

On Monday I cut a leaf off my pumpkin plant and sent it into Western Labs to get a tissue test.  This is the fourth time I've done a tissue test over the years and I found it invaluable.  What you have in your soil isn't necessarily what the plant is taking up.  The reason for this is if you have too much of one thing in the soil it can actually prohibit the uptake of other things in the soil in some cases.  So a tissue test can let you know what the plant is actually getting into it and what it needs.

I got the tissue test back yesterday, just in time for the pollination of a 4 lober this morning.  I'm really hoping this pollination takes, as the timing and placement is pretty ideal.  I selfed the pumpkin, using two flowers from the 1825 plant that I used to hand pollinate with.  

On average a pumpkin will grow about 90-100 days.   Right now I'm 98 days from the weigh-off, so weather permitting (which almost never happens for me),  I can get all the growth I can out of this pumpkin.

I don't know why, but I'm always surprised by the tissue test results each year, even though they seem to always come back about the same.  Basically anything in the soil that is leachable, I'm deficient in (common with sandy soil).  I thought I would be high in nitrogen and phosphorous.  In particularly phosphorous, because when I put down the monoammonium phosphate in the spring, I thought I was putting down sulfur, so I over did it (oops).  To see in the tissue test I was low in phosphorous was a surprise.   I was also low in nitrogen, copper, zinc and manganese.   So I'll be applying extra amounts of those to the soil and doing foliar applications over the next week of each.

It has been scorching hot in Miday, Utah this last week.   98-99 degrees every day and some days with high winds.  To moderate the temperature in the greenhouse I sometimes run the misters non-stop for hours to keep the temps inside in the 80s.   Today is supposed to be the last of the high 90s and then it drops into the low 90s for the foreseeable future.

Have had a strange thing with new leaves on the main vine.  All of then are shriveled.  Now sure if it is because of the heat or something else, but something I'll be watching.  Side vine leaves don't seem to have the same issue.