Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Patch Prep is Done

I tilled in the sudan grass today along with about 3 yards of compost and a little gypsum. Didn't need anything else as my NPK is a touch high for everything right now. The middle section of the patch still shows a fair amount of grass popping up because I lost two bolts in the handle of the tiller while I was tilling so I had to go quickly over the remaining area for fear I would break something.

I'm really happy with where the soil is at right now. Much better than where it was at in the spring. The tilth is greatly improved and the organic matter should be much higher. In the Spring I'll add a little more compost from a pile I started this summer.

Friday morning I'm going to sow some winter rye and put clear plastic sheets over it to heat it up and get it growing. Tomorrow night it is supposed to get down to 30 degrees. I'm going to cover the kids pumpkin plant tonight and put a couple of light bulbs under it in the hopes of keeping it alive. It has been making some nice gains the last couple of days and I'd like to keep it going 1.5 more weeks. Right now it is estimating at about 72 pounds which is close to my daughter's personal best of 85 pounds last year. If it can survive tomorrow I'm guessing she and her brother can get it up to 100 pounds.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Check Out the October Issue Of National Geographic

This pumpkin grower is in the October issue of National Geographic. There is a small article that I'm quoted in. I don't remember saying the quote, but hey I got into one of the most recognized and respected magazines in the world. Had to smooth things over with the wife a little. Lol

Congrats to Jim "The Biz" Grande on a New Colorado State Record Pumpkin!

Jim Grande smashed the previous Colorado state record set by the Master Joe Scherber by nearly 150 pounds yesterday with a giant pumpkin weighing 1,283 pounds. The pumpkin was grown from his own 1019 Grande seed. The weigh-off at Jared's nursery yesterday was a great event. To see video highlights from the weigh-off go to

Thursday, September 24, 2009

4th Annual RMGVG Pumpkin Weigh-off, Denver, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers are pleased to present the 4th annual giant pumpkin weigh-off. The biggest weigh-off in Colorado. It is fun for kids of all ages:

Saturday, September 26th 11:00AM
Jared’s Nursery & Garden CenterLocation: Jared's Nursery and Garden Center 10500 W. Bowles Ave, Littleton, CO

10:00 Junior Division Weigh-Off.
11:00 AM Adult Division Weigh-Off

Galleria of Ghouls -- Free Large straw maze -- Free Straw obstacle course -- Free Music --
Pumpkin Pie Baking Contest -- Face-painting $3-$5 --
Junior Division Pumpkin Weigh Off

Food will be available from:
Magill's Ice Cream , Papa Johns, Tommy's Subs, Woody's Hot Dogs

Directions from C-470 and Bowles: Go east on Bowles to Oak St, go south to the 2nd entrance turn left into our bulk yard, there will be parking attendants. West on Bowles from Kipling: OR Go 1/2 mile west on Bowles to Oak street, go south on Oak to the 2nd entrance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grow Lights Gone Wild

A friend recently bought a home as an investment. The home was previously used for the illegal growing of a controlled substance. My friend called me and said, "there is lots of hydroponic and grow light stuff, take anything you want."

I belive last year my seed starting lighting didn't have enough wattage so I was excited by the opportunity to get some additional lighting. Apparently the operation at this house was very large. Some of what I got wouldn't work very well for my needs. For example, the 1000 watt HPS light bulb is very cool but would be a little bit of overkill for six pumpkin seedlings. My wife would certainly kill me when she saw the electric bill.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Compost for the Pumpkin Patch

I got about 3 1/2 yards of really nice composted cow manure today. It is three-years-old and just perfect for what I need. My nutrients were on the high side in my last soil test. Since then I turned the soil three feet deep so I suspect I am now more in the normal range. This mature compost should add the organic matter I need without adding a lot of extra NPK to the patch.

Putting on the Pounds in the Late Season

Today's high was about 54 degrees and the over night lows for the next two nights will be in the low 30s. This is pumpkin killing weather. Pumpkin plants don't like frost in the least and when there is frost your season is done. More than likely your pumpkin will survive the frost okay but there is a risk of splits. The leaves however are another story.

In an attempt to keep the kids' pumpkin plant growing I've covered the small plant with clear plastic and then put two light bulbs in with the plant to add a little heat to the space. I don't know if it will work or not but I figured it was worth the 15 minutes to set it up and give it a try.

The best way to protect the plant late in the season is the way Pete did it with remay wrapped around a wood structure (see picture in previous post). It costs a little but it adds warmth and frost protection late in the season to keep the pumpkin growing a couple of extra weeks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Kids' Pumpkin is on Target

With 23 growing days remaining the kids right now are 23 inches away from beating their personal best last year of 85 pounds. This year they are growing a 793 Van Hook (1450 Wallace x 1041 Mckie) which should go heavy. It has been a very good plant so far. To bad the hail wiped it out in July but to it's credit it rebounded. This pumpkin has only been growing for 18 days on a small 100 square foot plant but the pumpkin already has a 40" circumference.

The Iceman Cometh

Eddy "the Iceman" was in Denver yesterday. Always appreciate his fun personality and great knowledge. Did a short patch tour and talked pumpkins and politics all night. One of the big discussions was around what Pete Mohr is doing in his small 250 sq foot patch again this year. 1,004 pounds last year and around 1,100 pounds so far this year. You know whatever he is doing he is doing it right. I'm going to spend time building my organic matter in the patch and trying to get more heat into the patch. Those were the two things I learned from his setup.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sorghum-Sudan Grass As a Green Manure Cover Crop

The Sorghum-Sudan grass that I planted is a real grower. Warm temperatures have helped push it along. I decided to go with it this year rather than annual rye grass or some of the other commonly used cover crops because I had a little more time to let it grow since my patch prep was started early and I had read some great things about it.

Sudan grass is a warm-season annual grass that is an excellent green manure. It has a high biomass, grows fast (up to 6 feet in Colorado), adds a little nitrogen, blocks out weeds, helps build mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, loosens subbsoil with deep roots and has nematode and disease suppression qualities.

I planted it about two weeks ago and it is already about 3 inches tall.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Kids Pumpkin Plant is in Business

I've been a bit remiss on updates for the kids pumpkin plant. After the storm the plant was devastated. Vines were crushed. Leaves almost gone. I didn't think it had a hope. The damage on their plant wasn't as sever as mine because the plant grows along a south facing fence and the storm came from the north mostly. I don't think the plant was watered for at least a week after the storm but on its own it started to come back. Very slowly new leaves would appear each day. There was even a female flower a few weeks after the storm that we pollinated but the pumpkin aborted.

Eleven days ago we pollinated another pumpkin and this one has taken and it is growing like a champ. The plant is only about 100 square feet in size but the pumpkin is putting on gains that are comparable to a full size plant. I think if the weather can stay good until halloween than they should have a descent sized pumpkin (that is a pretty big if however).

This plant is the 793 Van Hook (1450 Wallace x 1041 Mckie). Lots of heavy in those genes so maybe there is a chance that Haddie can beat her personal best of 85 pounds from last year grown on a Prizewinner plant.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How-to-Grow Giant Pumpkins the Organic Way

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Don teaches everyone the most in-depth practices of growing technique and soil science, from the state of the art mycorrhizal inoculants and biological controls, to the basics of composting and organic matter. This book is an instant classic that will propel even a novice gardener to world
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