Friday, August 15, 2008

The Dream of the 1000 Pound Pumpkin has Faded

It was going to be a long shot to get to 1000 pounds after the last week and it definitely isn't going to happen now after this cool weather. 50 degree temperatures today and tomorrow are taking any hope away. The pumpkin slowed down to two inches of growth yesterday and I'm sure it will probably be less than that over the next two or three days. Warmer temperatures are in the forecast after Monday so maybe we can get the thing growing again at that time. Everything would have had to been perfect in August and September for me to get to 1000 pounds. Reality has set in for me.

I think a real possibility for me now is 700+ pounds, but I'll need consistent weather in the 80s for the next three weeks if that is going to happen and we will need a late frost this year. I will also have to get rid of the powdery mildew that started on the older leaves the beginning of this week. I tried compost tea with earthworm castings and then later milk in a 9:1 ratio on the leaves but it hasn't taken care of it yet. Once this rain stops I will be using a Chlorothalonil fungicide on the leaves to hopefully knock it out. I'll probably also remove some of the worst leaves in the hopes of keeping it from spreading.

This week I have changed the feeding program for the pumpkin to push it through to the end of September. Right now I give it 1/4 cup of Neptune's Fish & Seaweed 2-3-1 as a foliar on Sunday, a little less than 1/8 cup of Bio-Genesis High Tide 0-0-4.5 seaweed as a foliar on Tuesday and 1/8 cup of Happy Frog 4-4-5 on Thursday. These are all good quality organic fertilizers with a nice micronutrient profile.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to find this site. I'm in GA and have never grown a pumpkin-but threw down some seeds this year and didn't know what kind they were-looks like they are this big guy! I'll be interested to see if we get anything since we didn't plant until Mid-June. I have a nice one on a vine, but there are 5 others also growing on the same vine. I'm not to worried about growing the biggest-but maybe I should cut some off to ensure at least 1 or 2 grow to a nice size? Also, mine have managed to grow outside our fence on the edge of our retaining wall-can a pumpkin be "hammocked" or will this cause issues? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Jamie said...

Thanks for your comment. I have never hammocked a pumpkin before but it would be possible if it were to grow to less than 150 pounds. I know a guy who grows giant pears and they grow to about 150 pounds. For them they have to use a little hammock. I think your best bet however would be to to cut off 2 or 3 of those pumpkins so most of the energy goes to the rest of the pumpkins. You will get a lot better pumpkin if you go that route and impress the neighbors. You planted about a month late, but you should still get some pretty good sized pumpkins by Halloween assuming that your weather stays warm in Georgia. I know most of the growers in Georgia plant really early in the year to beat the heat. Good luck and have fun with those pumpkins!

Anonymous said...

Thanks-I cut some of the smaller pumpkins back this morning and we'll just see how it goes! Good luck reaching 1000lbs!

Jamie said...

Thanks. Send some heat from Georgia and maybe we will have a chance.

Craig Liedell said...

1st year growing Pumpkins, and your blog has been a huge help. I have had my share of hail too but still managed to get a couple 100+ lb pumpkins. Only had one plant survive hail and that one had the main vine snapped. Was not brave enough to go down to 1 pumpkins in rookie season. Anyway, I was looking at your fertilizer routine on your Aug 15, 08 blog. How often will you do this, every week, every other etc.? I ask because it seems like my pumpkins have come to a sreeching halt. Oh, yeah I'm from Parker, Co. Thanks

Jamie said...

Hey Craig. Glad you have enjoyed the blog. The right amount of fertilizer greatly depends on what your soil and plant needs. I know it sounds like a cop out answer but that is the facts. My soil last year was low on everything but phosphorus so I gave it a little more. Ideally what you want to do in the spring is have a soil test done and then amend appropriatley based on the results and recommendations from that test. Joe Jutras, the world record holder, last year grew a 1507 pound pumpkin and he didn't fertilize at all after early spring because his soil test showed he was a little high in everything. Personally I like to give the plan a little something foliar every week, even if it is just compost tea, because the leaves can obsorb a little and sometime the roots for various reasons can't pull and distribute everything the plant needs very well.

If you aren't planning a soil test (and even if you are) then watch what the plant is telling you. If the leaves are yellowing, if the pumpkin isn't growing very well, if the leaves are dull looking then the plant is telling you it might need something (or possibly it has to much of something).

A good general rule for plant maintainance is about 1/8 cup of fish & seaweed fertilizer per week or about the same of a grandular fertilizer.

Around this time of the year the pumpkins slow down. That is normal. Late July to mid-August is the fun rapid growth phase. From late August to late September you start seeing the pumpkin growth decline but it shouldn't stop.

Grow em big!

Craig (The Rookie) said...

Thanks for the advice, I will stick to the Fish & Seaweed routine for the remainder of the year. It sounds like I really need to start with getting my soil tested next spring. I plan on expanding my garden this fall. I can't get over how big these vines get even with me burying them. I have ran into a couple of the ailments you mentioned. I am going to buy a book but want to make sure it has a good troubleshooting section. Which one do you reccommend?

Thanks Again!

Jamie said...

A good soil test can't be beat. One place that I have used and been happy with is They aren't as expensive as some and will give you all the numbers you need. The best pumpkin growing books are the series by Don Langevin. I wouldn't get the first book. It is out dated now. The 2nd and 3rd are very good however and the 4th book will be out in the next week. You can order the 4th book from my website. The price will says $19.95 but I'm selling it for $12.95 + $4 shipping to local growers.