Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nick's Garden Center Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off

Nick's 6th annual great pumpkin weigh-off is this Saturday at 11:00 in Aurora.  See some pumpkins over 1,000 pounds with the potential for a new Colorado state record going to the scale.  Nick's is a great event with a lot of great activities for kids.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Foliar Application of RAW Bloom on Pumpkin Plant

Today I did a foliar application of RAW Bloom (3-12-12) on the pumpkin plant.  The phosphorus and potassium should help continue the growth of the pumpkin.  I applied a relatively small dose.  You don't want to pop the pumpkin this late in the season.  I'm actually surprised the pumkin is still growing.  With where the plant was at in August I would have never guessed the pumpkin would grow this long and not split.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Squash Squashes Colorado State Record & A Near Giant Pumpkin Record

When helping Joe get his pumpkin out of the patch, I would have guessed that he had a new Colorado state record, but the scale doesn't lie. Marc Sawtell had better luck however, breaking the 1,000 barrier for giant squash and set a new Colorado record.  The following video I shot and got on 9News.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Night Before the Weigh-off

I think late September and October are awesome for multiple reasons, but the weigh-offs can make them amazing.  Great weather, football,  and the winding down of another pumpkin season really caps off the fall.  I'm not taking my pumpkin to the Jared's Nursery weigh-off tomorrow, but I thought I would talk about what the night before a weigh-off is like and give some advice to newer growers.

First thing, make sure you load up your pumpkin tonight!  Don't wait until Saturday morning to load up the pumpkin.  Too many things can go wrong and you don't want to wait until morning to have the pumpkin loaded.  Along with that, put the pumpkin on a pallet so it can be easily unloaded at the weigh-off. Also, leave a little of the vine on the stem and attach a water bag to it.  You can gain a few extra pounds that way.

Second, make the pumpkin loading experience a party.  My first year I had a 755 pound pumpkin in the patch and I wasn't sure how I was going to load it up.  I got my self a lifting tarp and then invited a bunch of friends to a "pumpkin party" which was my rouse to get a bunch of strong guys to come over and get the pumpkin on a pallet on a trailer.  The next year, everyone was asking if they could come to the pumpkin party so it has become an annual event, even though we now use backhoes to lift the pumpkins.

There is a lot of hard work in growing a pumpkin.  Too many hours to count.  So celebrate the cutting of the vines with friends.  Honestly, they seem to love to come see the pumpkin every year.
Third, enjoy the weigh-off!  Again it is a celebration, regardless of how big your pumpkin has grown, so enjoy the time with the other growers and ask the better growers lots of questions.  You'll get advice that will probably add hundreds of pounds to your pumpkin the following year.  No pumpkin is too small for the weigh-offs if you tried as hard as you could try.

Fourth, you may find yourself strangely anxious as your pumpkin goes to the scale.  Even the years that I thought my pumpkin was small, I hoped for the best.  Nothing wrong with that.

Sixth, be prepared for your pumpkin to weigh less than you hoped.  This can be a very hard thing.  Especially if you thought you had a personal best going to the scale.   The estimation charts are just that:  "estimations."  Not only that, they are an average.  Which means 50% of the pumpkins are going to go heavy and 50% are going to go light.  Remember you've already got a 50% change of going light, so expect it and then be surprised if it goes heavy.

Two years ago, I grew what was the 2nd biggest pumpkin ever grown in Colorado in terms of the inches.  It was a fun season.  However, on the scale, the pumpkin ended up 18% light.  That is massively light.  7% below the charts would be considered a lot light and I couldn't have been prepared for 18%.  It kind of hurt at the time.  By the next day, I realized I had grow a pumpkin that was hundreds of pounds bigger than anything I had grown before that was a personal best.  That made if feel better, so keep everything on the positive side.  Some things aren't in your control.

Enjoy the weigh-offs and may all of your pumpkins go heavy!

Go see one of the RMGVG weighs this fall and see pumpkins over 1,400 pounds. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Got Fusarium in the Pumpkin Patch? Try Kelp & Silica.

Here is an interesting excerpt from some studies using kelp and silica on cucurbit plants (the same family that Atlantic Giant pumpkins are in) to help battle fusarium.  the results are interesting.
    "Crop losses due to Fusarium spp. are important to cucurbit growers along with an increasing interest in natural ways to improve disease resistance. Extracts of the brown seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum and products containing silicon have both been shown to promote disease resistance on many crops. In a 2008 watermelon trial located in Upper Marlboro, MD, Fusarium solani symptoms were suppressed by extracts of Ascophyllum nodosum. At the final rating, 30% of the watermelon plants were dead from this pathogen in the control plots vs. 10% in Ascophyllum extract treatments. A second study was implemented in 2009 on Gladiator Pumpkins. Calcium silicate and Ascophyllum seaweed extract were applied to pumpkins grown in a field known to have Fusarium spp. infected squash three years prior. At the final rating, 24.6% of the pumpkin plants were dead in the control plots vs. 19.2% in the silicon plots, 13.6% in the Ascophyllum extract treatment, and just 6.1% in the plots with both calcium silicate and Ascophyllum extract. These field studies were further supported by two greenhouse studies where applications Ascophyllum extract to cucumber plants reduced incidence of Fusarium oxysporum and enhanced the activities of plant defense-related enzymes including chitinase, β-1,3-glucanase, peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, phenylalanine ammonia lyase and lipoxigenase as well as elevated levels of total phenols compared to the control."

If you think you've got the soil borne disease fusarium, try RAW Kelp and Silica in your pumpkin patch.  I took some of my own advice and did a foliar and soil application of kelp, silica and humic acid this evening.  I don't believe I have fusarium, but a little prevention goes a long way and like we've talked about on this blog before, kelp, humic acid and silica have a lot of other good benefits.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Some Last Azos for the Pumpkin Patch

I did a soil application of Azos this evening.  Soil temperatures have to be decently warm for Azos to grow and typically in Denver this time of year it would be a little too cool, but the forecast for the next 10 days looks to be 80 degrees and above and I had some Azos so I figured I had better use it up before it expires. 

Azos is a nitrogen fixing bacteria that can produce substances that are similar to gibberellins, which is a plant hormone, so I figured I should get something out of it this year.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Some TKO with RAW Grow as a Foliar

This evening I did a foliar application of TKO and RAW Grow on the pumpkin plants.  I measure the pumpkin this morning.  First time in almost a week and it is still growing.  Around 4 pounds a day right now.  We are a month away from when I plan on taking the pumpkin to a weigh-off.  I don't suppose that it will still be growing by then, but would be very pleased if I could get another 100 pounds in the next month.

Friday, September 18, 2015

It's Colorado Giant Pumkin Weigh-off Time (2015)

It's the best time of the whole year.  Football in the full swing.  Major league baseball play-off action and most important of all, the pumpkin weigh-off season.  Starting next week the weigh-offs begin in Denver.  Great family events and the biggest pumpkins you will see in Colorado!  Check out each of the five GPC weigh-offs.  Pumpkins weighing in at over 1,000+ pounds:

Jared's Nursery Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Festival
September 26th (2015)
10500 W. Bowles Ave, Littleton, CO 80127

Nick's Great Pumpkin Weigh Off

October 3rd (2015)
2001 South Chambers Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

Fort Collins Weigh Off

October 4th
Fort Collins
Hopefully will start in the late afternoon.

Flower Bin
October 10th
1805 Nelson Rd., Longmont, Colorado 80501

Old Colorado CityOctober 17th
Colorado Avenue and 25th Street
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80904

Today I have the pumpkin plant some RAW Grow in the areas of new vine growth.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nitrogen & Humic Acid for the Pumpkin Plants

This evening I sprayed on the leaves and soil some RAW nitrogen along with some RAW humic acid.  That will probably be the last nigrogen application of the season.  Pretty much will just give the plants potassium from this point forward.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lastest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

This is a picture of the 1985 Miller looking from the vine tip towards the stump.  I'm guessing the vine is about 38 feet long right now. Lots of late season vine growth.   You can see a big difference in the leaves in the foreground to the leaves from the pumpkin backwards.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Pumpkin is Still Growing

I put a tape measure on the pumpkin today.  About every five days I've been doing that to make sure it is still growing.  It is still putting on the pounds, albeit slowly.  5-6 pounds a day.  At this point of the season, with descent weather we've been having I would be hoping for 10-12 pounds a day right right now.

Surprisingly good late season growth on this plant.  The main is still growing and putting on side vines.  That should help keep the growing going a longer into the season.  My goad is to keep the pumpkin growing into the first week of October.

Gave the plant some RAW Grow with seaweed today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

TKO for the Pumpkin (and not the Knock Out Kind)

I sprayed some foliar TKO on the pumpkin plants this evening.  That is a good source of potassium for the pumpkin growth.  At this point of the season I would typically be adding potassium and some phosphorous to the soil as well, but I'm not going to have a big pumpkin this year, so I'm doing what I need to do to get ready for next year. 

Traditionally my potassium and phosphorous are too high in the soil, which can cause some problems.  Right now I'm letting the plant pull all of that potassium and phosphorous out of the soil so the soil will be more balanced next season.  Last season I did the same thing.  As a result, my potassium in the spring my soil report showed me being a little closer to  where it should be.  My phosphorous was still too high, however so I'm hoping by the end of this season it will be in the ballpark as well.

Today I talked to a pathologist at Western Laboratories about what I've seen going on with my plants.  From what I described, he wasn't sure what was going on, so I sent him some video of my 282 plant from a few weeks ago along with some photos to help diagnosis what is going on.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Pumpkin Growers Are Typically Good People

Had a casual get together with some different pumpkin growers yesterday evening and had a very nice time.  Conversations ran the gamete, but the conversation always came back around to pumpkins. 

There are some really big pumpkins in Colorado this year.  Other than May, the weather has been much better than average for growing this season.  I think there will be two or three pumpkins this year in state record territory.

I only fully realized how hammered my plants are with disease this season when I saw the Wiz's plants last night.  His leaves look about as good as they have been this late in the season.  My leaves look they way leaves should look at the beginning of October and not the beginning of September.   I've got some plans for next season to help keep the plants disease free.

This evening I did a foliar application of RAW Bloom, B-vitamins, Cal Mag and Silica.  Trying to squeeze as much weight into the pumpkin as I can right now because I don't think my pumpkin will still be growing at the end of the month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Some Fertilizers for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I gave the plants some cane molasses, omina and humic acid on the soil.  This is in keeping with my former post on how to keep the pumpkin growing in September.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Calcium for the Plants & Bacterial Wilt Sucks

This evening I did a foliar application of calcium on the pumpkin plant and on the sprouting cover crop I put in last week.  The hope will be that the calcium will get taken in by the cover crop and then when I till that into the soil it will be ready for next year's plant.

I'm pretty sure, after talking with some other growers on and doing some reading that my 282 plant had bacterial wilt.  It basically gums up the sap in the pumpkin plant and eventually kills younger plants.  From what I've read "adult" plants can kind of fight it off to a certain degree.  I think my 1985 plant has it some.  The leaves have drooped slightly for the last month when the sun is out. Not nearly as bad as what the 282 plant was doing and how my kids plants do now, but for a month the plant just hasn't looked quite right.

The kids plants leaves droop when it is only 75 and sunny these days but perk back up when it clouds up or in the later part of the afternoon.  That is one of the signs of bacterial wilt.  My daughters 282 has had the main vine tip die off by about 3 feet.  Her plant has the same kind of gold color of the leaves near the stem as well.  My son's seems to be doing better in some ways but the growth on the pumpkin is slower than on my daughters.

One of the signs of bacterial wilt is if you cut the vine and then put the pieces back together and pull it back apart the sap kind of strings out.  All three plants are doing that.  I need to find a healthy plant and try the same things and see what it looks like for comparison.

The prevention of bacterial wilt is the same as yellow vine disease.  Kill the bugs that spread the bacteria that causes the disease.  I took my insecticides up a notch this year, but I guess it wasn't enough.  Only saw one squash bug and one cucumber beetle all year, but it only takes one.

For now, the 1985 pumpkin is still growing and based on the improved vine growth it isn't overly affected right now.  However, it is only putting on about 8 pounds a day right now, which is about what it has been doing for the last month. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kelp for Tired Pumpkin Leaves

Do a little test with some liquid kelp (aka seaweed) on a pumpkin leaf and you will see some of the power of kelp.  Put a drop of the kelp on a leaf and then pull that leaf from the plant and watch what happens were the spot of kelp was applied.  Over a number of days you'll see the majority of the leaf shrivel and dry out, but the spot were the kelp was applied will stay green longer. 

I personally have never done research as to why this happens, but I would guess it is a combination of nutrients and cytonkins in the kelp.  I know kelp can help pull nutrients into the plant, so my guess is that the hormones in the kelp along with the many nutrients it supplies gives it the ability to keeps the cells alive longer.  If you have a more scientific explanation, please let me know.

I like to use kelp on my plants.  I think tired old leaves that have been beaten up in the wind and hot sun during the summer can get a number of benefits from kelp this time of year (for that matter, all year around).  Healthy leaves late in the season add a lot of pounds to a pumpkin.  My biggest pumpkin had the healthiest looking leaves I've ever had later into the season.  The vast majority of the leaves were green and shiny right until we got a very big rain storm for a week in September and only after that did the plant start to show some age.

This evening I gave the 1985 Miller plant a foliar application of 2 tablespoons of liquid kelp, 1 tablespoon of liquid fish, with some fulvic acid and yucca.   I also sprayed some of it under the leaf canopy onto the ground.  Humic acid and/or fulvic acid enhances the benefits of kelp, so when doing foliar applications always apply a little of one or the other or both with the kelp.

I used to buy the bottle so liquid seaweed, but I found it cheaper to buy the dried, concentrate kelp and mix it with water.  The price is about the same for the two, but with the dried kelp you get gallons of product rather than just a small bottle.

How to Get 13% More Growth on Your Pumpkin in September

We are coming to the end of the season.  Not long now until the weigh-offs.  For some, they are looking at personal best pumpkins and possible state record giant pumpkins.  Even if you don't have a pumpkin this year quite as big as you would have liked it to be, there is still time to add a lot of weight to your pumpkin in September to finish it off.  What if you could add an additional 13% or more to your pumpkin by just doing three things?!  Wouldn't you do it?  It could make the difference in moving up one or two places in the standings.  And the solution is simple if you know the right fertilizers and nutrients for late season growth.

The first thing to do is to start foliar and soil applications of potassium sulfate.  Why specifically potassium sulfate?  The chart below from one study on cantaloupe tells the story:

The most interesting part of this chart is potassium in the fruit.  Potassium is found in large quantities in pumpkins, so the more you can get to the fruit the better.  In the same study yields were also found to be higher in cantaloupe receiving potassium sulfate.  In comparison to the control group, yields were 13% higher in the group receiving soil and foliar potassium sulfate over the control group.

Late in the season the potassium in the soil may start to become less than optimal or even deficient for what the roots can reach. One pumpkin study found:
    "If potassium is deficient or not supplied in adequate amounts, growth is stunted and yields are reduced . Potassium is associated with movement of water, nutrients and carbohydrates in plants. The relation between potassium and fruity vegetables such as pumpkin is well established long time ago. There is increasing evidence from the literature that optimizing the potassium nutritional status of plants can reduce the detrimental build up of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which result from various environmental stress factors. In addition, it is widely acceptable that in general, high potassium status in crops decreases the incidence of diseases and pests."
In my own soil reports from the spring to the spring of the next year, with no potassium being added to the soil, I've seen my potassium levels drop 500ppm.  Even if you have adequate levels of potassium in your soil it may not all be available to the plant, so supplemental potassium could help keep the plant from bonking late in the season.  Watch this video to learn more.

Second, foliar and soil applications of nitrogen at this point of the season might also be a good idea for the same reasons.  Although nitrogen tends to be more available to the plants that other nutrients, nitrogen levels can drop due to leaching from the heavy watering most growers do during the season as well as the plant using it up.  One grower, who is very knowledgeable and has grown some monsters once told me that some late season splits are sometimes due to inadequate nitrogen.  So giving the plant a little extra nitrogen now could pay off big time on the scale.

Lastly, giving your soil some RAW Cane Molasses now could also give you a lot on the scale later.  At this point of the season, when the demands on the plant are great and it is getting tired the plant can be more stingy giving sugars back to the soil microbes that are giving the plant nutrients.  Because of this the soil biology can start to slow down.  Applying some RAW Cane Molasses to soil can give those microbes an added boost so they will continue to give nutrients to the plant that will power the pumpkin's growth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Compost Tea Recipe for Giant Pumpkins

There are many great "recipes" for compost tea, but here is one that I like giant pumpkin plants: 

1/2 cup alfalfa pellets
2 dried leaves
1/4 cup compost
1 tsp RAW Silica
1 tsp liquid seaweed
1/4 tsp RAW Cane Molasses
1/4 tsp RAW Humic Acid

Put all of that in a mesh bag and then suspend the bag in a 5 gallon bucket of de-chlorinated water.  Aerate that water with a fish tank pump for about 24 hours and then pour the compost tea over the leaves and on the ground under the leaf canopy.  Your plant should love you for it.  The beneficial bacteria and fungi that you will be adding will help to feed and protect the plant and you will also get the benefits of the seaweed and alfalfa hormones which will help with the growth of the plant (and hopefully the pumpkin too.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TKO to fight Diseases and add Potassium

I did a foliar application of TKO this evening.  TKO is a good fungicide because the phosphites in it and I hope to help control the powdery mildew that is showing up on the 1985 Miller plant with it.  TKO is also a good source of potassium and since a good portion of a pumpkin is potassium, I hope to keep the fruit growing with that. 

Although TKO is listed as 0-29-26 I don't believe the phosphites in TKO actually apply much available phosphorous to the plant.  From what I have read in the past, although phosphites are more mobile in the plants, a plant prefers phosphates to phosphites so the uptake is less.  It may be that pumpkin leaves can absorb it and convert it to phosphates when applied as a foliar application, but I haven't read anything that it is necessarily true for Atlantic Giant pumpkin plants.

Monday, August 24, 2015

RAW Fertilizers for the Lawn & Pumpkins

Company is coming this week and I wanted to green up the lawn some, so this morning I sprayed a mixture of RAW Cal/Mag, RAW Grow, RAW Nitrogen and RAW Full Up just prior to the sprinkler system running.  The RAW fertilizers will work on the grass, garden and pumpkin patch.  The nitrogen in those fertilizers along with the magnesium, calcium and iron will make for a happy lawn.

I had just a little left over so I sprayed that where the cover crop was planted and then sprayed just a little under the leaf canopy of the 1985 Miller pumpkin plant.  Also put down a little calcium down on the ground.