Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

First picture is the 1791.  Second is the 335.  The pictures are a little deceptive because it makes the plants look like they are about the same size.  The 1791 is about 2 feet longer on the main and has bigger leaves.  The 335 also has a narrower hoop house.

Friday, May 30, 2014

1791 Growing Like a Weed

By tomorrow the 1791 plant's main vine will be at the end of the hoop house.  Looking back at last year that is about 5 days ahead of last year's plants.  A good problem to have but it can cause some problems.  We get heavy winds here in Denver this time of year and with the hoop house it isn't a problem.  But when the plants get out of the hoop house they have little to no protection.  One year I removed the hoop house a little too early and the next day there was strong winds.  The plant survived of course but was a little beaten up after it all.

The 1791 plant has developed some big leaves.  It is going to be a very different plant from the 335.  The 335 has shorter stalks and the leaves are smaller.  The big leaves look impressive but they tend to fall over later in the season and can be a little harder to manage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Time to Till the Patch Again

My cover crop has been growing like crazy the last few weeks.  I don't think it has ever been taller at this point in the season.  Lots of rain in Denver the last few weeks has helped it develop quickly.  This Saturday the plan is to till the cover crop under.  That way, in two weeks, when the pumpkin vines start growing into the areas where the cover crop was located it will be mostly broken down and will be ready to feed the plants a few weeks after that.

My 1791 plant is about at the same length or maybe a touch ahead of the 1421 plant from last year.  My 335 plant is about the same length as the 1775 at this point in the season.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

And Then there was Two

Today I did the thing I least like to do during the growing season and that was to make a choice on which plants I want to grow and take out the other companion plant in each hoop house.  I've decided to go with the 1791 Holland and my larger 335 Scherber pumpkin plants.  It was really a coin toss between the 1791 and the 282 Scherber.  In the end I went with the 1791 because it was the more vigorous plant at this point of the season.  Both plants have fantastic genetics and were healthy looking plants so I could have gone either way.  You hate to pull a plant like the 282 knowing that its parent grew a 2,009 pound pumpkin but you have to make a choice.  I hope at the end of the season I don't regret it.  I also know Joe is going to do everything he can to grow his 282 to Colorado state record size just to put it in my face at the end of the season and I hope he does.  Lol

Monday, May 26, 2014

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

The 1791 Holland plant really kicked it into gear this week.  At the beginning of the week it was just a big bigger than the 282 plant but at its current growth rate it will be to the end of the hoop house by the end of this week.

The 1791 got a little hail damage yesterday.   Even in the hoop house the hail came in and got some of the leaves that were closest to the opening.  No big deal however.  My son's 1220 plant got the tip of the main vine taken off.  We will turn the next side vine into the main now to keep it going.  It will slow up the growth some for him but once it recovers you won't notice the difference.

The 335 is now growing well.  It is a few days behind the 1791 but is turning into a nice looking plant.  I expected the 1791 to be a more aggressive grower, but aggressive growing at this stage doesn't always translate into a great pumpkin growing plant so only time will tell.  The following are pictures of both plants.  Tomorrow I'm going to be pulling the other plants out of the hoop houses to give the plants I've chosen to go with more room.  I hate to pull that 282 plant but the 1791 looks too good to not go with it.

1791 Holland

335 Scherber
Today I gave the plants some foliar multi-mineral with a touch of fulvic acid in it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Does Your Pumpkin Plant Growth Seem Slow?

I got a lot of questions from growers this time of year about their plants being kind of small.  Right about now your plant should be vining but that vine may or not be laying on the ground right now.  Cool temperatures will slow the plants down.  Until night time temperatures get into the 50s your plant isn't going to grow a lot.

As long as your plant isn't way behind don't sweat it.  At this time of you want the roots growing.  The salad will catch up by the second week of June and you will have more vines then you will know what to do with.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Not Loving this Weather But Plants are Doing Well

My plants are at about the same stage of growth as last year's plants but I'm not loving our weather this early season.   Partially cloudy makes it hard to control the temperatures in the hoop house.  I'll watch the temperature monitor and the hoop house will go from 75 to 88 and back down to 75 in the course of an hour depending on if the sun is out or not and it changes a lot.  We haven't had many of what I would call sunny days this spring.  Sun in the morning and then cloudy most afternoons. 

Ideally I'd like to have the hoop houses at a constant 90 degrees.  The humidity stays higher in the hoop houses so 90-92 degrees is great.  You don't want much more than that.  Without the hoop houses I'd like about 88 degrees.  I think a perfect enviroment for pumpkin plants would be about 88 degree days with a bit of humidity and then about 80 degrees at night.  These plants don't like big transitions in temperatures so Colorado isn't an ideal growing enviroment with our 60 degree summer nights and 93 degree days with low humidity.

Today my son and daughter's planted their pumpkin plants.  We are about two weeks late but they are both beautiful plants.  Both plants already have their vines down on the ground.  If the plants can transition to their outdoor environments quickly they will both do fantastic.  My daughter's 335 Scherber plant in particular I think will do well.  Round 1161 Rodonis leaves like papa had tells me that it will lean a little more to that side.  My 335 Scherber plants have the pointy 1421 leaves so it will be interesting to see how those pumpkins turn out.

Today I gave all of my plants a divided portion of four gallons of aerated compost tea with one teaspoon of liquid seaweed, teaspoon of fulvic acid, half a tablet of Biotamax, 1/2 tablespoon of Azos and a touch of Actinovate added to the tea just before pouring.  I might have over done it but that biology added to the soil could do some good to promote growth and help protect the plants. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Latest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

The following are the 4 pumpkin plants in the patch right now.  The 282 and 1791 plants are looking very nice.  Will be interesting to see what happens to that 282 plant once it has wired up to the soil a week from now.

The 335 plants ran into some issues that I can't explain right now.  Both plants looked great two days ago and then yesterday these spots and curled edge of the leaves showed up.  The good doc thinks it might be something environmental so I'm going to let them go and hope for the best for now.  The good news is that I haven't seen any progression from yesterday to today.

1791 Holland

282 Scherber

335 Scherber

335 Scherber

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Line Up Change

Today I took out the 1220 Johnson plant that was in the hoop house with the 1791 Holland.  The 1220 wasn't going to make the cut (unlike my son's 1220 which is a beast of a plant) and the 282 Scherber was looking really nice so I've planted it and will let it battle it out with the 1791 to see who is top dog.  I now owe my daughter a pony for that plant.  I wasn't sure I wanted to plant the 282 in the hoop house because I know there was a chance I might not go with it and I wanted to grow a 282 to see how it does and potentially cross it with the 1725 clone.   The 282 Scherber seed is a seed from a clone/cutting of the plant that grew the world-record 2009 pumpkin the year before last.  A wise grower reminded me to go with the best of what I've got so we will just see what happens.

Both of the 335 plants in the other hoop house look very nice.  They don't mind hot, sun or cold.   I'm ready for all of these plants to wire up and start growing.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Keeping the Pumpkin Plants Warm in the Snow

Last night it rained and the rain turned to snow this morning.  It has snowed pretty much since 8:30 this morning with the temperature hovering around 34 degrees for most of the day.  The pumpkin plants are safe in their hoop houses right now where it is 53 degrees currently inside.  Not ideal growing weather by any means, but warm enough to keep the plants from freezing.  In one hoop house I have a 250 watt heat lamp.  In the other hoop house I have a thermostatically controlled space heater.  Last night and just now I covered the hoop houses with silver tarps which will help hold the heat in a little.  As long as the electricity stays turned on we should be good, but I'm looking forward to Tuesday when we return to spring like weather.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Great Growers and Great (and not so great) Genetic Plants

A big thanks to Joe for the new 282 Scherber plant!  As mentioned before, three of my 282 seeds produced plants that I would describe as having "failure to thrive issues."  I've heard people say that they wouldn't grow a 2nd generation selfed seed but in the past I wouldn't have believed it would be a problem.  Now I'm starting to wonder.

Some people believe that you can get some plants with genetic issues when a plant is selfed (aka self pollinated) for two generations.  Other people would tell you that with pumpkin plants it wouldn't be an issue.  Selfing is a good way to solidify a genetic line and to get certain traits to become consistent.  However you could more easily get two recessive genes to combine and get some traits that are maybe less desirable.

My experience with the 1775 Starr seed last year which was a 2nd generation selfed seed wasn't great.  However there were a couple of descent pumpkins grown last year from that seed and every pumpkin has seeds that just won't grow a big pumpkin.  This year with the 282 Scherber seed there is a clear genetic issue that I've seen in the three plants I started and in other people's diaries.   The plant is slow to germinate, slow to grow and has very small leaves.  Although I've seen other 282 plants that look just as healthy and grow as well as the world record clone plant that the 282 seed came from.  Genetics is a complicated thing.

This new 282 looks to be a great plant.  All of the traits of its mama.  My hope is to pollinate it with the 1725 clone that produced the 282 seed to keep those genetic lines in tact and hopefully produce a very large pumpkin this year.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Keeping the Hoop Houses Cool

It is going to be unseasonably warm in Colorado today.  The forecast is for a high of 85 degrees.  Even with the hoop houses fully opened up it will easily get to 90+ degrees inside the hoop house.  To help reduce the temperatures and to help the plants adjust to full sun for 12 hours a day I've put white sheets over each hoop house.  This should bring the sun intensity down and reduce the temperatures some in the hoop houses.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Pumpkin Plants are in the Ground

Today I planted two 335 Scherbers into one hoop house and then a 1791 Holland and 1220 Johnson into the other hoop house.  I'm very pleased with where these plants are at right now.  Some nice growth and very good root systems on all four plants.

Into each planting hole I put some Azos, mykos and humic acid. After planting I watered the plants with some liquid seaweed, Actinovate and Microbe Mydroponics' Foliar Spay & Root Dip.  The Microbe Mydroponics product has a bunch of beneficial bacteria and fungi, including Bacillus, Rhodopsedomonas and a wide variety of mykos species.

335 Scherber and 335 Scherber

1220 Johnson left / 1791 Holland right