A reader sent in this good question:
"What is meant by spoon feeding? Love your blog."
Thanks for the question. Basically it mean giving
small quantities of nutrients more frequently, rather than a big dose of
fertilizer at once. In the pre-season I'll
till into the soil the amount of recommended nutrients that the soil test shows. That may be pounds of fertilizer across the
entire patch. During the season, when
the plants are in the ground, I'll give much smaller quantities so as the plant
is using up the nutrients, I'm replacing them so the plant never has to go without. That way you aren't dumping a bunch of fertilizer on the plant which can cause spikes and problems.
With my sandy loam soil I have to fertilize a little more frequently because nutrients like nitrogen can leach from the soil. Nutrients like potassium, particularly when the pumpkin is growing quickly, can also get used up pretty quickly, so a constant, but small applications can maximize growth.
Yesterday evening I did a foliar and soil application of NPK Bloom (3-12-12) at 1.5 tsp mixed with Omina (11-0-0) at 1 tsp in 1 gallon of water). I sprayed that on the leaves, under the leaves and a few feet beyond the side vines. The pumpkin plants should be growing relatively quickly right now, so they are using up a descent amount of nitrogen. They will continue to grow quickly for about another 3 weeks. But with pumpkins on the vine I'm giving them a fairly balanced formula so that as we start to transition to fruit growth from vine growth it has what it needs to grow the pumpkin.