Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pumpkin Prep Time

Next 30 days is going to be busy.  I got soil samples from the patches, now that the snow is gone, that is drying and then I'll send into the lab this week.  When I get my soil test results back I'll then amend the patches around mid-April and then I'll then start heating up the soil in preparation for planting around the first week of May.  Today I'm starting some pumpkin seeds, but these won't be the plants that I'll grow.  I've put some myco and azos into a pot.  This will be used to get the myco maturing early and I'll then transfer that myco to the pots of the plants I'll grow in two weeks.  The seeds I'm starting now will feed the myco until it is transferred into the new pots.

April 13th will be my seed starting date.  Once I get the greenhouse figured out I'll maybe start seeds earlier in future years, but with a last frost date around the last week of May, I have a fine balance between giving the plants as much growing time as possible and giving the plants the best growing environment. So this year I'm going to play it more on the safe side.  For everything else I'm going to put the pedal to the floor this year.

One thing that amazed me this last week was the growth of the winter rye.  Last fall I sowed winter rye seed in the non-greenhouse patch, just as the weather started getting cold.  Two weeks later in the greenhouse I sowed winter rye and a week later I had it popping up.   The other patch I never saw the grass sprout at all.  Eventually the outdoor patch was covered in snow and we got a lot of snow this year that stuck around all winter.  Maybe three feet deep at its deepest.   Last week the snow was still at least a foot deep in the outdoor patch so I cut some 2 foot wide holes in the snow in the hopes I could get some spots to dry out faster so I could get soil samples this week.  The last two inches I couldn't dig out, because it was all ice.

The beginning of this week those holes melted out even though the surrounding areas still had 4-5 inches of snow on them.  What surprised me was to see the winter rye popping up in the holes I had cut, even though everything around it was still solid ice/snow.  Now the outdoor patch is greening up everywhere nicely.   I'll till the planting areas in both patches in two weeks, to get the grass breaking down before planting.  The rest of the grass I'll let grow with a few mowing as long as I can (probably late June to early July).

The greenhouse grass isn't very tall at all.  Deer have mowed it short.  I didn't get much water in the greenhouse this winter.  Hose froze in the snow (silly me for leaving it out), so once every two weeks I'd shovel a bunch of snow in the greenhouse to keep it going.  With the warmer weather now I can see it starting to take off with the regular irrigation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Soil Prep Time & Time for Amendments in the Pumpkin Patch

This is an excerpt from a write up posted by Soil Scientist John P. Taberna.  In my opinion John is the leading soil scientist in the area of giant pumpkin growing and might be the best for western soil farmers period.  He is one of the few that has done some research on giant pumpkin growing and as such is a wealth of knowledge.  The following are his fertilizer recommendations.  The numbers he is quoting is the total amount in the soil and not the total amount to add:  John's recommendations:

Phosphorus (P) 
The lab recommends 4 pounds of Phosphate per 1000 square feet. You're going to use 1152 Ammonium Phosphate. CALCULATION: 1 x .52 = .52 pounds of Phosphate per pound of 1152.4 pounds of recommendation / .52 = 7.69 pounds per 1000 square feet. If you take example 1 (1.925) x 7.69 = 14.80 pounds of Phosphate per garden. 1152 also contains 11% Nitrogen. CALCULATION: 1 x .11 = .11 x 7.69 pounds = 85 Nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Nitrogen (N) The lab suggests 3.5 pounds of Nitrogen. Never apply more than 1 pound of Nitrogen when using Ammonium Sulfate. Never apply 1.5 pounds Nitrogen when using other Nitrogen products. If you take example 3, by using 1152 you’re adding .85 pounds of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet already. If you added one pound of Uriah per thousand you’d be adding an additional .46 pounds N per 1000 square feet. If you add the two together you’ve added 1.31 pounds per 1000 square feet, which is okay.

Potash (K20) 
The lab recommends six pounds of Potash per 1000 square feet. The best source for pre-plant K is 0-0-50 Potassium Sulfate. You will need to apply 12 pounds 0-0-50 to get 5 pounds per 1000 square feet. Two pounds of Potassium Sulfate equals one pound of K2. You would apply 12 pounds every 1000 square feet to meet the 6 pound recommendation. During midseason, if you notice marginal burning, add 2 pounds of 0- 0-60 Potassium Chloride per 1000 square feet and thoroughly water with overhead irrigation. This would equal 1.2 pounds of K20. Potassium was the biggest deficiency from midseason on for Ron Wallace when he hit the 2,009-pound giant pumpkin. Sulfur (S) All products suggested contain Sulfur. There is no need to add more.

Magnesium (Mg) 
The lab recommends 0.7 pounds of Magnesium. Epsom Salt is the easiest to find and it contains 10% Mg. 0.7 pounds/0.1= 7 pounds Epsom Salt to apply per 1000 sq. ft. When burying the vines, always add ½ teaspoon of Epsom Salt. Be sure to thoroughly mix. When drenching, add ½ teaspoon Epsom Salt to the drench. During midseason, if you see mottling and blistering, foliar spray 1 teaspoon per plant twice a week. If you can find the product Kmag, this would satisfy the K, Mg and S needs. Add 1 teaspoon to foliar or drench per week per plant.

Calcium (Ca) 
If you are having blossom end rot or collapsing of the pumpkin, it’s generally related to Calcium, Boron and Potassium. After pollination, when you’re burying the vines; add 1 heaping teaspoon Gypsum, 1 level teaspoon 0-0-50 and ½ teaspoon borax each time. Don’t forget to thoroughly mix with your mycorrhiza, peat moss and other secret amendments. Also, don’t forget Taberna’s Secret Formula to stimulate bacteria and beneficial fungal growth: 2 cans of beer, 2 multivitamins, 2 aspirins, then pee in the hole after waiting an hour. This is a man’s thing that naturally occurs in the backyard, so if you are a gal raising giants… put your significant other to work!

When pre planting, it’s best to use Metallic Sulfate materials. It’s been found that sulfated forms of micronutrients retard onset fungal diseases.

Zinc (Zn) 
The lab recommends 2 oz. of Zinc per 1000 and you are using Zinc Sulfate which contains 36% of Zn. 2/.36=5.6 ounces Zn to apply per 1000.

Manganese (Mn) 
The lab recommends 1.5 oz. of Manganese. Manganese Sulfate is 24% Mn. 1.5/.24=6.3 oz. per 1000.

Copper (Cu) 
The lab recommends .7 Copper. Copper Sulfate contains 25% Cu. 0.7/.25=2.8 oz. Copper Sulfate per 1000.

Boron (B) 
If Boron is recommended, it’s best to foliar or drench with 1 tablespoon of Borax. When burying the vine, don’t go over ½ tablespoon of Borax.

In season when you’re applying micronutrients, use chelated products. Some examples are amino acid chelates, or citric acid chelates. I suggest buying individually and not taking the shot gun approach. Fancy EDTA materials are fantastic but very poor for foliar application. EDTA is stable at any pH for 2 months in soil. These materials are prone to leeching. Giant pumpkin and melon growers tend to water heavily and may leach expensive chelated below the effective root zone. The amino acid and citric acids are readily absorbed by plant tissue. It also wouldn’t hurt to add 1-teaspoon product to vine burial mix.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Yea. Greenhouse is Wired Up!

A little excited.  The greenhouse is wired up now with power.  Those electrical plugs will be connected to smart plugs which will control fans and watering system.  I'm hoping and plan in the next three weeks to have everything in place and I'll post a little video on how to automate your growing on the cheap.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Steve Deletas Giant Pumpkin Watering Presentation

Steve Deletas has consistently been one of the best growers in the world for a lot of years.  As a profession he is a pilot, so he is away a lot.  Because of this he has come up with an automated watering system to make sure his plants get the perfect amount of water all the time.  I met Steve a number of years back.  A very nice guy.  The following is his presentation this last weekend at the GPC spring seminar.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

2019 Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer Program

In 2018 I cut back some on the usage of seaweed in my fertilizer program.  After a discussion with a scientist at the Utah Giant Pumpkin Grower Spring meeting today, I'm putting it back in, but mostly on the soil.   This scientist talked about keeping the roots young and seaweed is a good way to do that.  Seaweed can encourage root hair elongation/growth and root hairs typically will only last about two weeks.  Foliar application effects a plant much differently than soil applications.  So in 2019 I'm going to do more soil applications and less foliar applications.

One interesting part of the presentation was this chart.  In a lot of ways it nicely matches what I've been trying to do with my fertilizer program.  The right fertilizers at the right time for the greatest impact.  The following chart shows this from the presentation:
The Amine N is basically urea form of nitrogen.  

Another interesting part of the discussion I had was urea verses ammonium sulfate for nitrogen.  By the end of the discussion my conclusion was that for soil applications, sulfur coated urea is a little bit better way to go. 

Also enjoyed Ralph's presentation today.  He had shared a lot of what he presented with me previously, but pulled away with some new ideas as well.  Basically I'll be doing much more soil testing this year of dissolved solids (NPK) to make sure the nutrients are staying within the 500-900 range.  I know I've been too low in the past.  

The following is the 2019 fertilizer program I'll be using:

May (focusing on the roots):
Week 1RAW Phosphorous/nitrogen (mono ammonium), B-vitamin, liquid seaweed/kelp, compost tea, myco, microbes & Azos, yucca, humic acid
Week 2fish, compost tea (alfalfa), fulvic acid, yucca, silica, seaweed, humic acid, foliar multimineral
Week 3NPK, compost tea, humic acid, yucca, fish, Azos, enzymes, amino acids, iron
Week 4NPK, compost tea, RAW 7-4-5, Omina, silica, fulvic acid, seaweed, calcium

June (focus on vine growing):
Week 5blood meal (for nitrate nitrogen), phosphorus, potassium, enzymes, humic acid, compost tea, yucca, RAW 7-4-5, azos
Week 6foliar multi-mineral, phosphorous (flowering), fulvic acid, microbes, RAW 7-4-5, azos
Week 7(pollination) humic acid, compost tea, RAW 3-12-12, Omina, iron, azos
Week 8nitrogen, TKO, humic acid, yucca, compost tea, azos

July fruit (focus on transiting from vine growing to fruit):
Week 9enzymes, NPK, compost tea, fulvic acid, seaweed
Week 10NPK, humic acid, compost tea
Week 11(pumpkin gearing up), TKO, microbes, nitrogen, humic acid, compost tea, B-vitamins, Omina, seaweed
Week 12cane molasses, humic acid, NPK, compost tea, iron

August (focus on the fruit)
Week 13NPK, foliar multi-mineral, compost tea, silica, Actinovate, seaweed, humic acid
Week 14Azos, yucca, humic acid, NPK, compost tea, Omina, foliar multi-mineral
Week 15silica, humic acid, NPK, Actinovate, compost tea, enzymes
Week 16TKO, cane molasses, fulvic acid, NPK, compost tea

September (finish the race)
Week 17humic acid, foliar seaweed, B-vitamins, RAW 3-12-12, compost tea, Omina
Week 18TKO, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid, cane molasses, silica
Week 19foliar potassium, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, humic acid
Week 20foliar potassium, foliar seaweed, humic acid