Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Prep in August

No pumpkins means there is more time to get ready for next year. Yesterday I took patch prep to a new level. Thanks to Chris, owner of CBS Trucking & Excavating and the property that I grow pumpkins on behind my house, we brought out the big guns for the patch prep. Using a backhoe Bob dug down 3 feet deep in the entire patch so we could loosen up the soil deep. There were lots of big rocks that we tossed out of the patch in the process as well. My roto tiller only goes about 8 inches deep and the soil was pretty compacted so the roots were somewhat limited in how deep they could go so loosening up this soil should make a difference.

At about two feet deep we put in a two inch layer of squeegee to help with drainage and to create a hydroponic area for the roots. As I understand it Quinn Werner has something like this and he doesn't grow small pumpkins. Helpfully it will help add an extra 100 pounds on my pumpkins next year. After putting the dug out soil on top of the squeegee and leveling it out I put down 6 pounds of soil sulfur, 2 pounds of humic acid, 1 pounds of 7-5-5 organic fertilizer and 5 pounds of 12-0-0 blood meal that Ross at Soil Menders gave to the growers at the patch tour (thanks Ross!). That was then roto tilled in lightly accross the entire patch. I was also going to put in some compost that CBS trucking had but it had disappeared so I'll get some compost and add it in November. In all I think the hard work will pay off. The soil had fluffed up enough to be 6-8 inches higher than it origionally was before the dig.

After roto tilling I put down some sudan grass seed and then racked the whole area patch area. Sundan grass is a fast growing grass that is a great green manure. I first heard about it from Joe Jutras and Ron Wallace on the SNGPG video. The grass will grow to 4 feet of more and has roots that will go down as far as 3 feet. They roots help with myco innoculations and will add good organic matter to the patch. I am a little late in the season for this grass but I should be able to get it growing for 6 weeks which will be enough time to get it at least a couple of feet high before the frost hits.

Soil test was sent in last week so that will help me determine what else I need to add to the patch in November. What I have added so far was just spoon feeding and mostly consisted with what I had leftover from this season.

I Started a new compost pile this week as well. The horse manure came from the great grandson of Man of War so hopefully there will be some good growth hormones in it to grow big next year (Lol). I also added a bunch of leaves that were leftover from the big storm as well as some grass clippings. It is already heating up nicely and should be ready for final patch prep in April.


Bryan langley said...

Jaimie that is the ultimate patch prep. I need to go along the same lines one day. I hope you grow a monster next season.

I hit 90# est this morning on my pumpkin. Hope to just break 100 and I'll be happy. What is "squeegee"? I live next to wetlands so I have a natural source for Hydroponics if I add this do you think it would help me?

Jamie said...

Congrats on almost getting to the 100 pound mark! That is a great milestone. Squeegee is small rocks that is something between pea gravel and sand. It will create some nice spaces for the roots to grow in and allow the water to flow through.

I would think something like this would help, but if your soil is too wet you are going to have problems. I saw it with some growers here in Denver this year where their soil was just to wet. Early on in the season the plants grew fine but later the roots started to rot out. Not only do the roots struggle because they can't get any air but fungus (the bad kind) start growing in the wet soil.

Good drainage for you would be real important.

Bryan Langley said...

so the squeegee will provide better drainage in the deeper soil? or will it lock the water in?

I am gonna try to raise the level of soil in my patch area using manure, humus, and compost this way the wetlands do not become an issue.

Jamie said...

Because the squeegee creates big spaces like sand it will help with drainage.

Raised beds and organic matter will help you too. Organic matter helps hold moisture like a sponge but it also creates spaces in the soil to help let the water move through. That way you aren't too wet or too dry.