Saturday, December 6, 2014

Things I'll Be Doing Different in 2015

Today at the RMGVG club meeting one of the growers asked me, "What will you be doing different next year."  My quick reply was, "Try to get a full-sized pumpkin to the scale."

The longer answer is that I've thought about that a lot since losing both plants in August.  The following is the strategy for next season:
  1. More testing.  I going to get an EC soil tester so I can have a better idea of what is in my soil so I can more accurately feed the plant. I've known for years that my fertilizing in the past has been a guess.  I've always done soil tests and the last two years did a tissue test.  But even with that I've not been sure if I've been under feeding or over feeding (probably under feeding from the research I've been doing).  I didn't even know that an EC tester existed until Beni talked about it after popping a big one the season before last.  It will take a little work to figure out how to best use the results, but at least I'll have some numbers to work from.
  2. Grow white.  I love an orange pumpkin but I also grow big.  As I looked at orange genetics there isn't a ton of seeds that I can get my hands on that grab my interest.  Big right now comes from the 2009 genetics and most of those crosses are coming out white to light orange.  This next season I'm going to grow a 282 Scherber and a 1415 Scherber.  The 282 is a clone of the plant that grow the 2009 crossed with itself.  The 1415 is a 282 that was selfed.  The genetics are just to good to grow orange.
  3. A little more late season fertilizer.  I don't get great growth in September, so if the EC tester shows it, I will feed the plants more the 2nd half of the season.
  4. A little higher organic matter.  I want more organic matter in my soil.  Not a ton but a few percentages higher than I've had in the past.  Some of that will be coming from peat moss.
  5. More moisture testing.  I have an inexpensive soil moisture testing so I'm going to do less eye balling and more testing.
  6.  More biologicals.  I'm going to be adding Rootshield to the other biologicals I put down and will use more mykos this season as well.
  7. Zucchini Plants.  I'm going to plant zucchini plants at the edge of the patch to attract squash bugs to in the hopes of getting rid of them before they get to the pumpkin plants.
  8. Layout of the patch.  For the last 5 years I've grown each my plants parallel to each other.  This next season I'll be growing the plants perpendicular to each other. This will give me about an extra 60-80 square feet of space and will give me more room for the main vine to grow on north side plant.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Kingly Line of Giant Pumpkin Genetics

For years I've noticed something and pretty much have only grown seeds from what I would cal the "Kingly Line" of giant pumpkin seeds.  In 2005 Joe Pukos made a cross of seeds from the two biggest pumpkins the year before.  What he ended up with wasn't overly impressive but he had some interesting genetics in that cross.  Two years later Joe Jutras grew the world record 1689 pumpkin.  With that world record plant he pollinated a 1068 Wallace and that pumpkin was on pace to grow as big as the world record pumpkin until he lost that pumpkin at 1385 pounds in the middle, late part of the season.  From the 1385 Jutras was grown the famous 1725 Harp world record pumpkin.  The seed of that pumpkin is now a legend.

In Kristy Harps world record year I emailed with she and her husband Nick.  Two very nice people and I got to meet them that following winter in Niagara and got to hear Kristy talk about her world record pumpkin.  From Kristy's words it was apparent that the seed that grew the 1725 was something special.  With all due respect to Kristy, you could tell it was more the seed than the grower that produced that massive pumpkin.  She herself said at the seminar, "I'm not a heavy hitter." Which seemed kind of funny at the time because she was in a room with the best growers in the world declaring that she wasn't anything special but at the same time she had grown something bigger than anyone had ever come close to before.  She knew she had grown something special.

That next year I grew the 1236 Harp which was pollinated by the world record plant.  However, the 1236 didn't grow but one descent sized pumpkin that year and I ended up with an 800+ pound pumpkin.  That seed didn't get the Kingly Line.  What Kristy had done in her world record season was self pollinate or in other world pollinate the female flower with a male flower from the same plant and that turned out to be genius.  She was criticize by some for doing it at the time.  In the sport selfed pumpkins where definitely looked down upon at the time.  Nobody would be criticizing her after the next few seasons however.

The next couple of seasons produced world record pumpkins, but they weren't from the Kingly Line.  Which brings up a good point.  There are probably hundreds of seeds each year that don't get planted or don't reach their potential that have world record genetics in them.  The simple fact is that there are too many seeds produced to ever get planted and not enough plots.

Three seasons after Kristy's world record year Ron Wallace grew a 1789 pound pumpkin that he lost in August that was grown from the 1725 seed.   The next season he planted another 1725 seed that produced one of the most memorable world records ever.  The first one ton pumpkin at 2,009 pounds.

I got to see that world record plant in action and it was something special.  A local grower got a cutting of that plant which was kept alive all winter in a greenhouse.  The plant had bad powdery mildew and it just verily survived the shipping but once it kicked into gear you could tell it had something special in it.

The next season a new world record was grown from the 2009 seed.  This last season a lot of 2009 seeds were grown along with 2009 crosses from the year before.  16 of the 20 biggest pumpkins grown in 2014 are from the Kingly Line 1725 Harp seed that Ron Wallace grew that produced the 2009.  That includes the three world record breaking pumpkins that Beni Meier grew this last season, the biggest being from the 2009 seed itself at an amazing 2,102 pounds.  Which by the way wasn't the biggest pumpkin ever grown by Beni.  The year before he had grown a  2,323 pound pumpkin that he lost weeks before the weigh-off that was reported to still be packing on pounds when he lost it and it was grown from the 2,009 seed.  The Kingly Line still lives on.

It should be noted here that people grow genetics that have been proven, so statistically speaking if a seed is grown more often it in all likelihood is going to produce bigger pumpkins just because more and better growers will be planting it.  That isn't the case with the 2009 seed.  Some people talk about grower techniques improving, but there hasn't been an improvement in techniques that I'm aware of that would make weights jump up hundreds of pounds for dozens of growers in just a couple of seasons.  Statistically I don't remember a seed since the 1068 Wallace that has produced more big pumpkins consistently than the 2009.  A 1700+ pound pumpkin just a few years ago astonished growers.  This last season a 1600-1799 pound pumpkin is almost a footnote.  There were 24 pumpkins just this last season that went to the scale that were over 1800 pounds.  For a good part of the country weather was not that good for growing so what was produced is even more astonishing.

I got a 2009 Wallace seed from Ron and I didn't even ask for it.  It was very kind of him to send.  That next season I tried to start it and it was the only seed to not germinate which was disappointing.

This next season I plan to grow a 282 Scherber if Joe can get me a few.  The 282 seed is a selfed pollination from the world record clone plant that I had mentioned previously.  Joe grew a fantastic pumpkin from that seed this last year.  The pumpkin was in state record territory when he lost it about 3 weeks before the weigh-off.  It was very thick inside he said when he cut it open and estimated it could have ended up at 1,600 pounds but the pumpkin never made it to the scale.

I hope to create my own Kingly Line off that 282 seed this next season.  The season after that I'll be growing some Barron seeds.  If I had room for those they would go in patch this year.  Very interesting cross of the 1730 Werner x 2009 Wallace.

Some interesting pumpkin seeds with that Kingly Line crossed into it can be found here as well as DVDs from world record Ron Wallace talking about his world record season.  A must watch video.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What to Do on Halloween Night with a 1,300 Pound Pumpkin

This is hilarious!  We had a lot of fun making this video.  My apologies to any kinds that can no longer go to a house with a jack-o-lantern out front.  In all there was probably 30 groups that we scared with the giant pumpkin.  Left me a little sore from sitting in the thing for hours.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2014

9News Features Joe and My Pumpkins this Morning

I'm hoping they will post the video a bit later, but the following is the link to the 9News story with the pumpkins.

Thanks again to Michelle for doing a great job again on caring the pumpkin.  Also thanks to Skype for partnering with Michelle to get it carved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Pumpkin Man on 9News this Friday

Halloween day there will be in an interview on 9News with Joe's and mine pumpkins included.  This interview just kind of popped up out of thin air and became a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  It was a fun shoot.  See what popped up out of Joe's pumpkin when we cut it open to get seeds.  Segment will air between 8:00-9:00am on Friday.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Next Season's Patch Configuration

I'm going to reconfigure my pumpkin patch next year.  For the last five years I've had my two pumpkin run side by side each running east and west.  That worked well for the southern plant but the north plant has very limited space and if my first pollination didn't take I would have to curve the main vine north to set the next pumpkin and space was very limited for that. 

I'm now going to keep the southern plant like it has been but the north plant I'm now going to have it run north.  I'll expand the patch a little that direction which will give me almost 45 more square feet of growing area for that plant and I can even let the main vine go farther if it wants to run so it can grow all season.

In the picture above where you see the plastic is where my two planting areas will be.  My cover crop, in this warm fall, hasn't taken off like I would have expected it to.  The nights have been in the forties but the day time highs have been in the high 70s for the last two weeks since I planted so I would expect more green by now.  I wasn't going to send in a soil sample, but I needed to send in one for my garden so I decided I should send in one for the patch as well just to make sure something isn't out of whack.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Nice End to the Season

To say this season was miserable would be an understatement.  After losing both plants I decided to try to save a pumpkin and I'm glad now I did.  After a month and a half off the vine my little Lucille made it to the scale twice. 

Today I went back to my roots and took my pumpkin to the Festval of Scarecrows, the place of my first ever weigh-off.  Along with it I had my kids pumpkins along with the biggest pumpkin grown in Colorado by Joe.  Pulling up at the weigh-off you would have thought we were rock stars.  Most people have never seen a 500+ pound pumpkin more or less a 1,300 pound pumpkin.  The smiles on their faces makes a season of hard work worth it.

In the weigh-off we took all of the top honors with the kids taking 1st and 2nd (even beating all of the adults by a lot) and I took first in the adult division.  I got a lot of seed requests at the weigh-off.  It was a fun day.

Took this picture before the weigh-off.  I love fall.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm in the Denver Post Today

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by the Denver Post.  They said they wanted to write an article about me and my pumpkin growing.  Let's face it.  If they could interview the pumpkin they would have preferred to do that but I was their next best option.

Almost a little embarrassed by it.  Seems like there were a number of other growers that were more deserving of an article.  My little wussy showing with a pumpkin that was very small in August by my standards and hasn't grown since wasn't my best showing.   I just hope that maybe a few people will be intrigued by the article and maybe take some more interest in the sport.  However, after reading how I've had more pumpkins lost then have gone to the scale will probably just scare a few people away.  Lol

You can read the full article at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally Got a Chance to Till the Soil

I tilled into the pumpkin patch 1 1/2 yards of compost, 6 bails of sphagnum peat moss, 100 pounds of alfalfa pellets, 30 pounds of gypsum and 20 pounds of granular humic acid.  I then racked in a cover crop of winter rye that I will let grow all winter and then will till into the ground in the spring.  In the spring I'll send in a soil sample and probably add another yard or so of compost along with what other items I need to make sure everything is adjust properly.

I'm guessing next season will be first season in this patch that I'll finally have my potassium and potash low enough that things will be balanced.  That is if I don't screw it up again.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

One More Weigh-off to Go

Yesterday I took my 335 Scherber pumpkin to the weigh-off at Nick's.  It ended up at a respectable 511 pounds which in my book isn't bad considering that plant was diseased and the pumpkin was picked in mid-August and then was just sitting in the patch for 1 1/2 months with a tarp over it.  None the less it was a disappointing season.

I'm going to be taking the 335 Scherber to one more weigh-off along with the kids pumpkins next weekend.  Also will be hauling with them a nearly 1,300 pound pumpkin grown by Joe Scherber which he was kind enough to give to my wife.  All of the pumpkins are in front of the house right now.  If you've never seen a 1,300 pound piece of fruit, swing on by.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New World Record Pumpkin

Congrats to Beni on a new world record pumpkin.  An amazing 2,096 pounds.  Rumor has it that this is Beni's smaller pumpkin and the larger one will still be going to the scale.

Beni grew a pumpkin that was over 2,300 pounds last year but the pumpkin split on him, disqualifying the pumpkin.  The pumpkin was still growing quickly when it split on him.  An amazing grower.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Son & Daughter Took the Top Two Positions in the Weigh-off Today

Congrats to both of them this year.  They worked hard in the pumpkin patch and it paid off, taking 1st and 2nd place in the weigh-off.  Of course it helped they were the only two kinds in the kids division this year.  Regardless of that, a 401 pound pumpkin is good regardless of how many people where in the competition.  Both of their pumpkins were nailed by hail twice and lost the main vines on their plants.  My son's pumpkin was pollinated the beginning of August if I remember right so to end up at 325 pounds in less than 1 1/2 months on a 150 square foot plant I think is pretty commendable.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jared's Weigh-off Tomorrow

Early this morning I put down 1 1/2 yards of some nice compost on the patch.  I hope to till that in this next week.  This evening I loaded up both of the kids pumpkins.  My daughters is going to go heavy.  My sore back proves it.  I'm grateful for neighbors that are willing to help me heft these things around this time of year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Colorado Giant Pumpkin Weigh-offs

Want to see some giant pumpkins this fall?  Pumpkins well over 1,000 pounds?  Visit one of the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable growers weigh-offs and see the biggest pumpkins in Colorado.  Fun for the whole family.

Jared's Nursery Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Festival
September 27th (2014)
10500 W. Bowles Ave, Littleton, CO 80127

Nick's Great Pumpkin Weigh Off
October 4th (2014)
2001 South Chambers Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

Flower BinOctober 11th (2014)
1805 Nelson Rd., Longmont, Colorado 80501

Old Colorado CityOctober 18th (2014)
Colorado Avenue and 25th Street
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80904

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peat Moss for the Pumpkin Patch

Today I spread 7 large bales of peat moss over the pumpkin patch.  Peat moss is an excellent soil conditioner, loosens up clay soils like I have an helps to increase the cation exchange capacity of the soil.  The peat moss for now was just put on top of the soil to help keep it moist as I germinate a 2nd round of sorghum sudan grass.  In a month I'll till it into the soil with the grass so it can be broken down in the soil all winter.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kids Pumpkin WAR!

Both of my kids are growing pumpkins this year.  Considering the problems they've run into, they have done fairly well.  Between hail storms (in the plural) and dogs the plants have taken a beating from time to time.  Particularly my son's plant.  However my daughter's plant (335 Scherber) is on pace to possibly beat my son's best pumpkin from last year.  However, even with a late start, my son's pumpkin (1220 Johnson) is on pace to catch my daughter's pumpkin if both pumpkins keep the same pace.   Should make for an interesting finish.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

And Then There Was None

Both plants are pulled.  I planted some sorghum sudan grass as a cover crop today.  I first soaked the seed for about 30 minutes with a half a tablet of Biotamax, some Mykos WP and some humic acid I had left over.  In the next 7 days that sudan grass will start popping up and suppress weeds, suppress nematodes and will add organic matter to the soil.  In a month I'll till it in and then plant a winter rye cover crop which I'll till into the ground in the spring.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Picking the Right Pumpkin Seed, How to Not Do It

This season I couldn't have gotten my pumpkin seeds more wrong.  Not that there wasn't some wisdom in what I planted, but of the ones I did plant I seem to have picked the wrong ones.  For example, I grew the 1791 Holland and the 1317 Clementz.  The 1317 has at least one pumpkin that could go over 1,600 pounds this year.  I kept the 1791 and gave the 1317 plant to Elitch Gardens.  I had a 1791 planted right next to a very nice looking 282 Scherber.  It ripped my heart out to yank it, but I went with the 1791 and there is a 282 that could be a new Colorado state record and I know of at least one other big one that is out there.  I started three 335 Scherber seeds.  The one I grew was slow from the start, but my daughters is looking pretty good now after a slow start due to hail damage.  The grass is always greener on the other side and not very seed is the same, but my batting average was extremely low this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Patch Preping for 2015 Early

I'm already patch prepping for next year and getting a jump on the competition.  At least that is what the loser says that had to pull his plants early.  Lol

Finally got some time to pull the 1791 plant.  I cut open the pumpkin and was a little disappointed with the thickness.  I grew this seed hoping it would produce a heavy pumpkin but the walls of the pumpkin were regular thickness.  I'm guessing the pumpkin would have gone to the chart or maybe slightly light.

I don't remember ever having this many weeds in the patch.   Rain and cooler weather has sprouted a lot of weeds.  I'm going to be putting in some sorghum sudan grass as a cover crop but I'm going to have to till the soil first to get all of the grass and weeds out of the way.  In about 40 days I'll till in the sudan grass and and put in a winter rye cover crop for the winter.