Saturday, January 17, 2009

Top Producing Pumpkin Seeds

Using the data on I pulled a report to find out for a given seed what the total number of pumpkins over 1,000 pounds where as compared to the number of seeds grown. These two numbers give you a percentage of pumpkins grown over 1,000 pounds. This number is significant because it gives a grower an idea of the likelihood that a seed will produce a big pumpkin based on past results. The following is a snippet of the results. Full results can be found on the homepage.

Seed | Percent over 1000+ pounds
1068 Wallace 75%
1689 Jutras 70%
1566 Rodonis 69%
500 Wallace 67%
1041.5 Mckie 64%
998.6 Pukos 60%
1450 Wallace 60%

Friday, January 16, 2009

Worm Castings & the Wife

A while ago I suggested to my wife that I'd like to get some worms to collect worm castings for the pumpkin patch. Worm casting are rich in microbial activity and put fertilizers and minerals into a form that plants can readily absorb. I have to admit there wasn't full disclosure before our marriage about things like compost, worm castings and pumpkins. I didn't start to grow pumpkins until a few years after our marriage. The conversations didn't go well in regards to the worms needless to say. If you ever read Amber's blog you would know. There were some concerns, however unfounded. Things like smells and worms running around the house at the top of her list.

Not to challenge the marriage, but as a little experiment I got the worms. Will, a grower in Colorado Springs, was kind enough to give me a few of his 1.5 million composting worms. They are now sitting in a garage tote bin with a lid on it. We will now find out how often Amber either reads my blog (I don't blame her for not reading it often because if you don't grow pumpkins it has to be really boring), can "smell" the worms or stumbles upon the bin. Details to come.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New 2009 Pumpkin Seed Lineup

Okay, I said I wouldn't change my mind about my seed lineup but I did. A very kind grower sent me some additional seeds that rocked my lineup. I now plan on growing the following:

1566 Rodonis (1450 Wallace x 1231 Pukos)
1450 Wallace (1068 Wallace x sib) - thanks Thad!
1363 Werner (985 Werner x 1450 Wallace)
1528 Starr (1350 Starr x 1041.5 Mckie)

Trying to decide the crosses for these seeds make my head spin. At this point the following are my best thoughts. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

1566 Rodonis x 986 Pukos (pollen from another grower)
1528 Starr x 1566 Rodonis
1450 Wallace x 1363 Werner
1363 Werner x 1566 Rodonis

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Composting for Your Pumpkin Patch

The best stuff that I believe you can put into your pumpkin patch is compost. I'm no expert on composting but there really isn't to much too it. Basically I like to take manure, alfalfa pellets, leaves and build them up into a nicely layered pile. I then spread some organic fertilizer in the pile (I used some leftover Happy Frog brand fertilizer that has some bacteria in the mix) and then poured 5 gallons of compost tea over it to help heat it up quickly (this step isn't necessary, but I think it might help the process go faster). The heat in the compost pile is generated by mesophilic microorganisms which rapidly break down the soluble, readily degradable compounds. The heat they produce causes the compost temperature to rapidly rise.

As the temperature rises above about 103°F, the mesophilic microorganisms become less competitive and are replaced by others that are thermophilic, or heat-loving. During the thermophilic phase, high temperatures accelerate the breakdown of proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates like cellulose and hemicellulose, the major structural molecules in plants. As the supply of these high-energy compounds becomes exhausted, the compost temperature gradually decreases and mesophilic microorganisms once again take over for the final phase of "curing" or maturation of the remaining organic matter.

You should turn or lightly mix the compost about once every two weeks to keep this process going so the available nitorgen becomes available to the bacteria. Adding a little water to the pile during dry periods can also help with the breakdown of the materials in the pile. After about 6 months the compost is usually ready to be tilled into the soil if you don't plan on eating your pumpkin. If you are planning on eating it you may want to wait up to a year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pumpkin Link - A New Online Pumpkin Seed Genetic Cross Search Tool

I created a new pumpkin website. It is at The website gives Atlantic Giant pumpkin growers the ability to search pumpkin family trees. This tool is a great research tool for growers to help them plan which seeds they would like to plant because they can search by pollinators, crosses, weight and grower. Over 8,900 pumpkins are in the database. Choosing the right seed is an important step to growing a really big pumpkin.