Friday, July 30, 2021

56 Growing Days Remaining

Today we are at 56 days until we cut the pumpkin off the vine.   Typically, after the first week of September, I get very little growth, because I'm battling frost.  So I probably have about 40 days of growing left, based on past experience.  I'm on day 43 since the pumpkin was pollinated so give or take, we are at the half way mark.  

 Right now I continue to spoon feed nitrogen and potassium on a nearly daily basis and I rotate in some phosphorous from time to time as well.  Lately I've also been adding in just a touch of micro nutrients as I don't want the plant to bonk this second half of the season and need to make sure it is getting everything it needs and doesn't start to become deficient.  

As I watch the Olympics I'm reminded that often it is just the little things between Gold, Silver and 10th place.  If your plant becomes deficient in any on nutrient then pumpkin growth is limited.  The reverse is also true.  Too much of most nutrients and pumpkin growth is limited.  So the ideal isn't actually putting the pedal all the way to the floor.  It is just a sliver above the floor where everything the pumpkin needs is available, but not so much it starts to inhibiting uptake of other nutrients.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

 At least that is what I like to tell myself.  Slow and steady.  But I wish it would crank it up some when it comes to the pumpkin's growth.  Right now the pumpkin is putting on a very consistent 25lbs a day.  It has been doing that every day since I started measuring it 10 days ago.  It really should be somewhere near 40 lbs per day right now.   However, there is still hope.

My biggest pumpkin was pollinated two days later than this one and this pumpkin is ahead of it, believe it or not.  That pumpkin that ended up at 1,325 was under my current pumpkins weight on this same date by a fair amount.  So, if this pumpkin can sustain the slow and steady through August, I should be in okay shape at the end of the year.  About 60 days of growing left to go.

I'm not sure what color this pumpkin is going to end up at.  Yellowing right now, but will a little hints of white and orange in it.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Time to Watch for Bugs

This week I've seen two aphids on the pumpkin.  Little green sucking bugs that suck.  I'm not great with insecticides, so I'm not going to write much about them here.  Must of what I've used have come from recommendations on  I've been fortunate in that I haven't seen much bug or disease pressure over the years, but I have been hit from time to time.  Because of that I would say I've used a relatively mild rotation of products.  I like bees, but I hate losing plants to disease spread by bugs.  So, I think there can be a somewhat happy minimum that you can use to minimize environmental impact. 

You can go the organic route or the pesticide route and there are pluses and minuses for both.  What I have been doing the last few days is at first I put down a contactant.  Then a couple of days later I put down a systemic.  And since then I've been spraying the leaves to wash off and hopefully kill the buggers with a mildly strong spray of water.

Friday, July 16, 2021

What I'm Looking at for the Pumpkin this Time of Year

At this point pumpkin growth doesn't appear to be breaking any records this year, it is growing.  I haven't measured in a while.  Over the last few years of growing I've found this time of year to maybe be a little less important and my sanity is better if I just eyeball it.  For some reason my peak growth seems to start a little later here in Midway then it did in Colorado.  Typically at around day 28 the pumpkin really starts to crank up the growth, but how high and how fast, seems to come later here.

What I am reading the plant for right now is what the potential is looking like.  Last year, about this time, my older leaves looked sad.   I believe that was at least in part do to spider mites or maybe aphids.  But the growth of the pumpkin was not good last year until the leaves after the pumpkin got mature in size.  I think that was possibly also maybe due to under fertilizing the first half of the season last year.

This year the leaves look really big, green and healthy.  Even the oldest leaves look to be in pretty good shape.  Vine growth is also good.  By Monday I believe the plant will be fully terminated due to no more space to grow in the greenhouse.  

Right now I'm at day 28th for growth, so the timing is pretty good.  What I'm seeing in the plant is it has energy to spare.  Since 85% of the plant is terminated right now I'm having sucker vines popping up that are growing aggressively.  The plant has all of this energy and it just doesn't know what to do with it all.   Leaves on the plant are getting taller and big too.   I think I've got a lot of the 2416 Haist side in my plant.  Once this plant makes the pumpkin the main sink, I believe the pumpkin will want to take off as all of that salad energy transitions to pumpkin energy.  At least that is what I expect and hope to see happen.

Very hot summer this year after a cool spring.  Not sure if the heat is an advantage or disadvantage in my cooler climate, but I think it is an advantage (although don't tell my drought stricken lawn that).   Nights are a few degrees warmer, mornings warm up more quickly and generally I can keep the greenhouse under 89 degrees during the heat of the day, so I think it slightly plays in my favor.

Weather is going to play a descent factor in where this pumpkin ends up.  During the summer I don't see the trend changing until September.   September will be do or die.  Usually I get frost the 2nd week of September, but if the weather can be a little more kind, maybe I can get a full 100 days of growth on the pumpkin to see its full potential.

For a bit, I thought this pumpkin was going to go white (I've never grown a white pumpkin before), but now it looks like it will maybe go yellow, like the 2009 Wallace did.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Some Fugicide & Insectocide for Pumpkin Plant

 We've been in the high 90s and low 100s for the last week+ so I've been running the misters extra long, sometimes, during the heat of the day running the misters non-stop for 4-5 hours a day, to keep the greenhouse in the 80s.   Normally I have the misters run for 1 minute during the heat of the day every 15 minutes.  That is enough to cool the green house by about 5 degrees, which is typically enough during the hot part of my summer days.  It is also enough time, with the greenhouse fans running to dry off the leaves between each misting, which helps to reduce disease pressure.

This morning I sprayed a combination of three different insecticides and one fungicide to help keep the plant from getting diseases.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference in Growing a Giant Pumpkin

 Last year I went to the GPC pumpkin seminar.  A number of great speakers at the event.  Joe Jutras, former world record holder for giant pumpkins, gave a presentation and most of it I don't specifically recall, but the part that grabbed me is when he talked about terminating the vines at the edge of the pumpkin patch.  Once you cut off a vine tip, the vine will stop growing.  Because at the vine tip on the plant typically has the vines up in the air, you can't bury the vines at the last leaf node at the end of the vine, because they don't lay down on the ground.  

At each leaf node, a plant will grow a root.   So to get more roots growing at the end of the vine, Joe said he let the plant grow out 2 feet beyond the edge of the patch and then would cut it off after the leaf node so he could get the vine to lay down so he could roots  at that last leaf node.  Brilliant!

Why would that be brilliant?  Well, the difference between a 1,500 pound pumpkin and a one ton pumpkin is usually not one or two things, but 20 or 30 different little things.  Every time you don't bury the vines because it is too hot outside in July or maybe don't bury the vines deep enough you can scratch off a pound or two off the pumpkin and those pounds add up over time.  

Joe, by allowing roots to grow at the last leaf node was capturing probably 45 more leaf nodes around the edge of the patch to grow roots that can help power the pumpkin.  Would those 45 more leaf nodes produce 45 extra pounds on the pumpkin by the end of the season?  No way to really know, but it would be highly unlikely that it not add some positive results on the pumpkin with all of those extra roots powering the pumpkin.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Foliar Feeding the Pumpkin Plant

Today I did a foliar application of 7-4-5 and multimineral on the plants.  The multimineral is a blend of chelated minerals that are essential to the plant.  Foliar feeding can be helpful, because it can give the plant what it needs through the leaf tissue that it may not be able to adequately take up via the roots.  I don't prefer to do a lot of foliar feeding, because I think it can be hard on the leaves, but I think some is a good idea.

Plant has been growing really nicely over the last week.  I think in about two weeks I'll be fully terminated.  Main vine is about 5 feet from the end of the greenhouse.  The pumpkin growth is relatively slow however.  That isn't untypical for me however this time of year.  Not sure why, but early growth has been slow the previous years here as well.  But then around day 30 after pollination it starts picking up speed, but not big growth and the growth after that has traditionally been steady for a long period.

I'm loving the smoothness and length on this pumpkin.

This year I'm going to try doing something different.  Around day 28, I'm going to add some heat over night in the greenhouse for about 10 days.  Too cost prohibitive to do more than that.  I believe my limiting factor is the nigh time temps and I want to see if I get the greenhouse 7 degrees warmer at night if I see better pumpkin gains.

Today my son pollinated his 1398 Janowaik (1501 VanderWielen x 1885 Werner) with my 1825 Sadiq.  The plan was to self it, but there were no male flowers available.  His plant's growth has been somewhat slow, so for the last couple of weeks we've been throwing more nitrogen at it and it is starting to take off now.