Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kids Plants Are Finally in their Hoop Houses

Bad weather have prevented us from getting the kids pumpkin plants in the ground for the last two weeks.  To some extent it has been an advantage to have the plants under 80 degree grow lights, but these plants should have been planted 10 days ago.  The seeds were started a little later than mine, but my daughter's 282 Scherber has a vine that is 2 1/2 feet long and there were a lot of roots in that pot.  I'm curious to see if this plant is going to be an aggressive grower, because it seems to be stretching already.

My son is growing a 1689 Daletas.  It is a nice cross of two different 1495 Stelts seeds.  I like the 1495 genetics.  They tend to grow really big pumpkins that go very heavy and often times they are very orange.     The leaves on this plant are very dark green.

They put mykos, Root Shield, Azos, humic acid, fulvic acid, liquid seaweed and some RAW B-vitamins (learn more) to help reduce transplant shock.  In my daughter's planting hole we also put a fertilizer pack that Ron Wallace gave to me.  We will hope for the best for both of their plants.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bury Your Pumpkin Vines & Oops

If you bury your pumpkin vines a root will grow out of the top and bottom of the vine at each leaf node.  You can easily add hundreds of pounds to your pumpkins by covering the vines with dirt.  It will also help the plan in the wind and help protect the vines on hot days.

Today I was burying the vines on my 1985 and 1415 plants.  Found something bad on the 1415 plant however.  The main vine is kinked a little.  I worried about that in the cool weather we had last week.  The vine was dangling in the air because it hadn't laid down yet.  I had put a bamboo shoot under it to support it some, but what I did wasn't enough. 

I'm probably going to have to go with the 282 plant now.  The pipes will be kinked in that 1415 plant which will probably restrict the flow of nutrients in the plant and I don't want that.  The 1415 plant is about 5-7 days ahead of the 282 because it was germinated a week earlier and it has slightly better color.  I was planning on pulling the 282 this week, but this is why you grow a backup in the same hoop house.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Vines are Down, Time for the Plant to Grow

I went out of town on Friday and got back today.  Plants are looking better, but a bit off color still.  A little sun today and a few days of sunny weather to come should help with that.  Both the 1415 and the 1985 plants have their vines on the ground now and are just over 3 feet long now.  At this point I would have liked to see the vines about a foot longer, but a month of no sun and cool weather has slowed things down.  Today I gave the plants a little foliar fish to help push it a long a little.  Also did a drench of Biotamax, Actinovate with iron and Myco Grow.  Next week we will add some nitrogen to the mix to start pushing those vines along.

It has been interesting to watch the plants in the yard.  At the end of April we were about 2 week ahead of schedule in plant growth.  We are now about 3-5 days behind because of the weather in May.  I'm guessing that when thing warm up everything is going to explode.

Pictured below are the plants.

1985 Miller
1415 Scherber

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yellow Pumpkin Leaves; The Diagnosis

Yellowing pumpkin leaves is a somewhat common problem that can have lots of causes.  Nutrient deficiency, lack of sun, disease and over watering are the most common issues.  Trouble shooting the issue can be a challenge.  Nutrient deficiencies are going to be typically one of three things: nitrogen, magnesium or iron.  A nitrogen deficiency will typically show up as overall yellowing of the plant with slow growth.  An iron deficiency will typically have yellowing leaves that start at the top of the plant.  A magnesium deficiency will start with yellowing leaves on the bottom of the plant.  To fix this, a foliar application with some fulvic acid (learn more) or humic acid (learn more) will typically solve the issue.  However, you have to look at factors that are driving the issue as well.  Over watering can cause issues with nutrient uptake, so if that is what is causing the deficiency then decrease watering.  Lack of sun light can also cause similar issues because the plant can use the nutrients it has to do photosynthesis.

This morning I went out to the hoop houses to give the plants water with kelp (learn more) and fulvic acid in it.  The plants have been a bit yellow for weeks because we've had almost no sun for the entire month of May.  This morning I could see however that the situation had become worse.  As you can see the bottom leaves are very yellow on the 1415 and 282 plants.  So after doing the drench on all of the plants I did a foliar application of epsom salts and multi-mineral with some humic acid in it.  I'm really, really looking forward to some sunny days, because if we don't start getting some sun I think I'm going to be having some real problems.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Make The Plants Think They Are in Maui

When I was on the south shore of Maui last year, near the base of volcano I realized that I might have found an ideal growing area.  Moderate rain, volcanic rich soils and 84 degrees, year around could be a place that a world record pumpkin could be grown.  It is no wonder that Monsanto is all over the island.

Denver is no Maui, Rhode Island, Ohio or Napa Valley when it comes to pumpkin growing.  Cool springs, warmer than ideal summer days and cool nights with low humidity make pumpkin growing challenging.  Colorado has its obvious plus sides however, so I'm staying.

When it comes to the pumpkins however, you have to make them think they are in Maui.  This is somewhat easier to do in the Spring, when the pumpkins are in protected hoop houses.  With heat sources at night, the hoop houses stay a minimum of 5 degrees warmer than the outside temperatures, humidity is higher and on a sunny 65 degree day it is easy to have a hoop house at a perfect 85 degrees with a perfectly happy plant.

You've heard me moan about the weather in Colorado this spring.  Very little sun and cool every day for almost three weeks now and it doesn't look like this trend is going to break until maybe next week.  So you make the best of it.   As you can see in the picture at the right I have a full spectrum CFL bulb in a brooder to add some additional light on cloudy days like today.  Also, have a heat lamp going to keep it a touch warmer inside.  Trying to make these plants think they are in Maui. We aren't quite there yet, but getting a little closer.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

NEW! Pumpkin Fertilizers Now Available

I've mentioned before that not all fertilizers are created equal.  I've tested a lot of different fertilizers over the years and have wanted to bring a world-class product line of fertilizers to the pumpkin growing community.  They are now available!  In the top menu of this blog you can now access the full line of NPK Industries RAW fertilizers and biostimulants directly from The Pumpkin Man.  These fertilizers are the purest, most cutting edge and best you can give to your garden.  A little of them goes a long ways.  One 2 oz package can make up to 200 gallons of product, so they are a great value.  Not only that, I offer them at the lowest prices you can find on the web with super low shipping.  I want to help you grow big this year!   Use discount code 'pumpkin' during checkout and get an extra 10% off the already everyday low prices.  More product coming soon!  http://seeds.denverpumpkins.com

Want to know why these fertilizers are the best.  Listen directly from the scientist:


Cal/Mag for the Pumpkin Plants

To encourage a little more vining on my pumpkin plants I gave them a little RAW Cal/Mag this evening.  Growing has been okay, but with less than desirable weather, I decided to try to push them along a little more.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Compost Tea for Plants

Today I gave the plants some compost tea with a little Actinovate, Azos and Myco Grow added to the very end of the brew.  Actually I gave the plants very little of the tea and most of it watered the rest of the hoop house.  I think with the cooler temperatures and the higher organic matter in the soil I've been over watering a touch so I'm cutting back.  However I want to keep all of the soil moist in the hoop house to get the roots to extend, so I water everything regularly.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Some Multi-mineral for Yellowing Leaves

Plants leaves have been a touch yellow because of the lack of sun over the last two weeks.  I gave the plants a touch of foliar multi-mineral to help with the photosynthesis.  Also put a grow light in each hoop house.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Urban Farm Co. in Boulder / Denver

Let me give a shout out to the Urban Farm Co based in Boulder and covering all of metro Denver.  If you want a great garden but don't have a lot of time, these are the guys to call.

My wife was asked to do an article for them and unbenounced to me had arranged for them to setup a planter box and soil for the garden.  I'll have to admit and it may be a surprise, I don't spend a lot of time in the garden.  Would rather spend it in the pumpkin patch.  When Amber told me what was going on, I felt my toes were being stepped on more than a little bit however.  I wasn't going to have some no nothing guy with a few bags of worthless "garden soil" with chunks of wood in it set up my garden!

To my surprise, my experience with Bryant was exactly the opposite of what I expected.  He was my equal and very knowledgeable.  He pretty much setup the garden exactly the way I would have done it.  I think we talked soils and soil testing for over an hour, bouncing ideas off of each other.  The special blend of soil he put into my garden looks to be close to ideal and he spent the time showing my wife and kids just what to do.

If you need a garden setup or consulting on how to improve your existing garden, visit them at urbanfarmcolorado.com and tell them The Pumpkin Man sent you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Right Phosphorous at the Right Time for 20% Greater Roots

1985 Miller Pumpkin & Some Fat Head Guy
I'm trying something different this year.  In the past I've given almost no fertilizers, other than a little liquid seaweed at planting time, for the first five weeks after germination.  A very good grower once gave me that tip and I've stuck with it until this year.  I'm now adding very small doses of specific fertilizers at specific times for specific results.  In addition to liquid seaweed at planting time I've started using a B-vitamin fertilizer.  This helps reduce transplant shock and helps the plant's resistance.  This was proven in a good study in the last few years.

The other thing I've added to the mix is monoammonium phosphate, which I gave to the plants today.  I'm using the RAW brand of phosphorous which is the purest form of momoammonium phosphate you can buy.  It is 9-61-0.  I'm using only between 1/8 to 1/16 of a tsp on each plant.  You don't need much.  This form of phosphorous has been proven in a study to increase root mass by 20% when used in the first three weeks of growth.  Phosphorous is the power source of plant growth and early in the season you want to focus on growing roots.  In about two weeks we are going to change that focus to growing vines, but right now the roots of the plant are what we want to grow the most.

In addition to phosphorous, I added in some fulvic acid and yucca.  Everything was mixed in with some compost tea that I started brewing yesterday.  The fulvic acid is a natural chelator which will help the plant get at nutrients in the soil.  The yucca is a wetting agent that helps water and nutrients penetrate more evenly and deeper into the soil.  Some studies have found greater root mass when yucca is applied to the soil.  Some have suggested that something in the yucca is causing that, but I think what will eventually be found is that water is being spread into the soil more evenly with the yucca being applied so the roots extend into more areas of the soil and the end result is a great root mass.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Snow on the Hoop Houses

I just returned home.  Spots of snow are still piled up around the edge of the hoop houses.  I guess about 4 inches of snow fell last night, into this morning.  I was out of town, but knew it was coming and had prepared.  Plants seemed happy enough.  The hoop house was 60 degrees at 6:00 this evening under cloudy skies and a bit of rain.  I covered both hoop houses with a tarp to help hold in the warmth a little better.  I could see the plants had grown a little in absence, but are still wanting for sun.  The good news is that after Tuesday, warmer temperatures are in the forecast.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Planted the 282 Scherber this Afternoon

The 282 Scherber pumpkin plant germinated a week later than the other plants that I planted a week ago.  However, it came on strong under the lights and it was time to get it into the ground.  The root system on this 282 was very impressive.  Even better than the 1415 and 1985.  We will see how it will do.  It is planted with the 1415 which early on was a fast grower, but it hasn't kept pace with the 1985 since being planted. 

Both the 1985 and 1415's color doesn't look great.  It has been cloudy and rainy every day in Denver since the plants went into the ground and the weather is going to be the same and maybe even a little cooler for the next three days.  Yesterday the sun came out for about 45 minutes.  The plants didn't know what to do with it.  It will be interesting what happens when things really heat up.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Get Your Pumpkin Growing Products Here & Compost Tea

I've kicked around the idea of adding some of the pumpkin growing products that I use to this website for a few years.  I am the owner of a Denver website design business (pixoinc.com) and that leaves me only with verily enough time to grow my pumpkins and I didn't want to take on the added responsibility.  But then it hit me.  I've got two pumpkin growing children who could use this opportunity, so we are going to be adding a full lineup of great products under the 'Order Pumpkin Growing Products' tab of this site.  Like I've said in the past, there is a lot of stuff on the market today that isn't worth much to a giant pumpkin grower or gardener.  So what I will be listing are quality products that I have experience with that I think can help you grow bigger and maybe save you a little money at the same time.  Watch this site for more details.

Today I watered both of my plants with compost tea that was made mostly from alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa contains triacontanol which is a growth hormone for plants that can help stimulate root growth.  At this point of the season you want to focus on root growth.  Leaf growth is fun to watch this time of the year, but it is the roots that are going to power the pumpkin, so ideally the plant shouldn't be growing a lot of salad which will be powered by nitrogen, but lots of roots.

In the compost tea at the very end of the brew I added 1/8 of a Biotamax tablet.  I water the entire area in the hoop house with it in the hopes of getting a lot of friendly bacteria and fungi going that will help to feed and protect the plants.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pumpkin Plants are in the Ground

This evening I planted 3 of my 4 pumpkin plants in the patch.  This is the first time I've got the plants in the ground in April.  The forecast looks very good for the next week, so it was time.

The root structor on all the plants looked very good.  In each planting hole I added some Azos, mykos, Root Shield, Actinovate and humic acid.  After that I watered the plants with some liquid seaweed and RAW brand B-vitamins to help the plants with transplant shock.

My 1415 Scherber and the 1985 Miller are my two best looking plants so far.  The 282 Scherber that germinated much later is still under the lights.  I'm going to hold off on planting it for now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hardening Off the Pumpkin Plant

With the plan of planting my pumpkin plants on Thursday evening, I'm doing a few things now to harden off the plants to get them ready for the outdoors.  This evening I'm leaving the plants in a room with a window open.  No risk of frost this way, but over the next two nights it will help prepare the nights for the cool nights in the hoop house.  I've also been giving the plants outdoor sun as much as I can over the last few days.  If a plant hasn't seen full sunlight and had light breezes on it then it  will wilt something terribly in full sun so the more sun you can get them the better off they will be.

Getting Close to Planting Time

Right now I have my plants under lights, but I'm thinking about putting them in the ground on Thursday. I don't want the plants to get root bound and they will soon be too big to fit under the lights.   From left to right, starting at the top, the first plant is my 1415 Scherber.  First to sprout and the fastest growing on my plants. 2nd is the 1985 Miller.  2nd to sprout (only an hour later) and also a fast grower.  3rd is the 282 Scherber.  This plant was very slow to germinate and about a week behind as a result.  So far it is looking to be an okay plant so far.  On the 2nd row left, is the other 1415 Scherber.  Slower to get going that than the first plant, but looking okay.  The last plant is my 2nd 282 Scherber.  Not sure what to make of this plant.  On the stem there is a small split that has healed and it hasn't grown very well to this point.  Overall, I think I have some plants that I can make something of.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Not Famous, But Maybe Infamous

Had a funny experience this evening.  After returning a rototiller to my local Home Depot that I rented to till the kids pumpkin patch I was walking through the store and this guy stops me.  "Are you the Pumpkin Man?  I really enjoyed the show."   I aknowledged with a smile.  I replied, "You must have some memory to remember my face from that far back."

If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch the video here.  I and my wife were on a TV show with Jerry Seinfeld, Julian Moore and Ricky Gervais about 4 years ago.  It was a lot of fun.  On the show my wife and I had a "dispute" about how munch time I spend in the pumpkin patch.  The studio audience voted for me!

How to Beat Your Friend/Family Member in a Pumpkin Weigh-off

Every year I get a message from a few people saying they are in a competition with a friend, family member or neighbor in a friendly pumpkin weigh-off competition.  It always brings a smile to my face when I hear their excitement at the beginning of the season.  I'm a fairly competitive person myself and can understand when a reputation and household pride is on the line.

So you want to win?  I'll give you a few giant pumpkin growing secrets:

  1. Start with the right pumpkin seeds.  The only way you can grow a truly big giant pumpkin is by growing Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds.  They are the only variety that can grow a pumpkin over 400 pounds.  Now not any atlantic giant pumpkin seeds will do.  You can buy Atlantic Giant seeds at most garden centers, but the seeds you really want are seeds that have had controlled pollinations where you know who mama and daddy are using the best genetics available.  You can get these competition seeds right here.
  2. Read this Blog.  It is packed full of tips and techniques to grow a big pumpkin. During the season I'm going to tell you everything I do with my pumpkins.
  3. Ask questions.  Websites like bigpumpkins.com have growers on them that are some of the best growers in the world.  You can ask questions on the website as well as see answers to questions that other growers have post that will help you grow bigger.
  4. Prepare your soil. Big pumpkins come from world class soil.  It takes some research to figure out how to build a great soil and it can take years.  However, if you send your soil sample off to a lab like A&L Western Labs they can tell you what you have in your soil and what your soil needs.  Too often growers throw down some fertilizer without knowing what the soil needs and it can be more harmful than helpful.  Along with that, sometimes less is more.  Spoon feeding your plants frequently with small amounts of fertilizer is often better than all at once.
  5. Start your seeds indoors.  Start your seeds in a bright warm place indoors in a big pot.  That will help get your plants going early.  Don't keep the plant in the pot too long however or else the plant will get root bound.  2-3 weeks in the pot at most.
  6. Move your plants to a hoop house outdoors.  In most areas springs can be too cool for the pumpkin plants to be perfectly happy.  A hoop house (like a small green house) will help keep the plants warm and protected from the wind.  A hoop house, like a car in the sun, can heat up very quickly when the sun comes out so you usually need to keep it open during the day and closed during the night wit a light bulb in it to keep the plants relatively warm.
  7. Watering.  Keep the ground lightly moist.   How much you water will depend on your soil type and temperatures.  You don't want the ground mucky but you don't want it dry either.  If you go down an inch mid-day after a morning watering it should be lightly moist.
  8. Bury the vines.  When the vines start growing on the plant bury the vines.  At each leaf node the plant will put out a root.  The more your bury the vines the more roots you will have and a bigger pumpkin as a result.
There are lots of other pumpkin growing tips for growing a giant pumpkin, but if you do the ones listed above you should beat your friend, neighbor or family member come October.  Keep reading this blog for more tips and advice.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Is there Anything Else Like an Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Plant?

I believe this is my seventh year of growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins.  I'm still amazed by them.  I've seen giant red woods that were two thousand years old and hundreds of feet tall, but to me, although close, they aren't the same as an Atlantic Giant pumpkin plant.  These two plants, pictured at the right, are exactly one week old at the moment.  At this same hour, a week ago, I started soaking my seeds. Look how big they are in that short period of time.

The plant at the back of this picture is nearly six inches wide.  In another 7 days you won't recognize these plants and I'll have to start raising up the grow lights because they will start growing into them.  In June the vines will be growing a foot a day.  The end of July, with a little luck and skill, the pumpkins will be putting on around 40 pounds a day of they are players.  And 90 days after pollination, with a little luck and skill, the pumpkin will be over 1,500 pounds. 

I'm not aware of any other plant that can do that kind of growth in that short period of time.  I'd love to get back to the redwood forest and stare in awe at what nature can do in 2,000 years.  But to me, looking at my pumpkin in the morning and then looking at my pumpkin in the evening and being able to easily see the change in size as it puts on 35-43 pounds in a day is easily as awe inspiring if not more so.