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
303-979-6022

Nick's Great Pumpkin Weigh Off
October 4th (2014)
2001 South Chambers Rd, Aurora, CO 80014
303-696-6657

Flower BinOctober 11th (2014)
1805 Nelson Rd., Longmont, Colorado 80501
303-772-3454


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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP "BO" the Pumpkin

I've known for days but have been ignoring it.  Bo, the pumpkin on my 1791 plant stopped growing about a week ago.  The measurement on Saturday showed no growth over the 4 previous days.  I had suspected for weeks that the plant had yellow vine disease.  Growth started to ramp up but then dropped off about two weeks ago so I knew something wasn't right.  Tissue tests came back with the plant having low nitrogen so I was hoping it was that, but yellow leaves started popping up on Saturday and Sunday and I've seen this before.  I'll be pulling both of my plants this week and getting ready for next season.  Too bad about Bo.  He was probably the prettiest pumpkin I've ever grown.  That orange was only going to get darker over the next month.  He ended up unofficially at about 453 pounds.  I'm interested in seeing how thick he as on the inside when I pull the seeds out.  He thumps hard.

Friday, August 8, 2014

RMGVG Patch Tour Tomorrow

If you want to see some big pumpkins and spend some time with some great people, come to the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers patch tour tomorrow.  On the patch tour you go to a number of growers pumpkin patches to see what they have going on, eat a lot of good food and talk everything pumpkins.  Next to the weigh-offs it is my second favorite thing that the club does each year.

The tour is coming by my patch this year.  I suspect I'll have the prettiest pumpkin on the tour this year but nothing truly big like I had last season.

This evening I did a foliar application of liquid seaweed with humic acid.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Little Nitrogen Before the Rain

I saw that a big, dark cloud was coming so I went out and sprayed some additional nitrogen under the leaf canopy.  It is great to get it soaked in by the rain.  Just as I finished the skies opened up and there was a pretty good down pour for 15 minutes or more.  Perfect timing!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Foliar Feeding the Pumpkin Plant

A great way to feed your giant pumpkin plant is to foliar feed them.  I believe that where foliar feeding can be the most beneficial is giving small quantities of fertilizers and nutrients where there might be minor (or major) deficiencies.

The leaves of a giant pumpkin plant can absorb many nutrients which can be quickly taken into the plant.  Don't however believe all of the hype when it comes to foliar feeding your plants.  I know the studies that are sometimes referenced when some companies are promoting their products and how much better foliar feeding is than any other method.  The fact is that some of what the studies say are being stretched by the manufactures.  The fact is that it really depends on what type of plant you are foliar feeding and what you are spraying that will determine the value.  Also how often you foliar feed.

Like I mentioned before, some types of nutrients can't very easily enter through the leaf.  Calcium is one of those.  However, based on my leaf tissue tests, I think I may have that one figured out.  My potassium in my soil is high.  Potassium can block calcium from being taken up by the roots so based on that my calcium in the leaves should be a little low.  However, my tissue tests actually had my calcium on the high side, so I believe the multi-mineral foliar applications of chelated calcium that is wrapped in an organic material is allowing the calcium to get into the plant.  Now the question is can that calcium move to the pumpkin.  That is somewhat of an unknown.  However, if the leaves are loaded with calcium then in theory there should be lots of calcium available to go to the pumpkin.  That is just a theory however.

I use a pump canister that is used for spraying stain to foliar feed my plants.  They are exactly the same as the garden pumpkin canisters but cost a couple dollars less and are just a few isles away in the same Lowes or Home Depot.  I'll usually add whatever I'm foliar feeding in relatively small quantities (1 or 2 tablespoons) to about 3 1/2 liters of water.  Sometimes I'll add Yucca extract which is a non-ionic wetter to help the water stay on the leaves and not bead up and drip off.  I'll then spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves as best I can until they are wet but not dripping wet.  The stomata in a pumpkin plants leaves are larger on the underside of the leaves so try to get the bottom sprayed as best you can, but it isn't easy.  Especially this time of year when the plants are large. 

This evening I gave my plants 1 tablespoon of magnesium sulphate with one tablespoon of multi-mineral that was sprayed on both plants.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Building the Nitrogen & Phosphorous in the Plants

I was a fair amount low on nitrogen and I was a little low in phosphorous in the pumpkin plants according to the tissue tests.  This evening I gave the plants some fish & seaweed 2-3-1 as a foliar application.  I'm hoping that I now have put down enough nitrogen over the last 5 days that we are fairly close to getting the plant's nitrogen levels back to normal.   I'll hit the plants again on Thursday with more nitrogen and I'll continue to apply nitrogen in small amounts on a regular basis until the end of August.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Compost Tea & a Little More Nitrogen

This evening I gave both plants some compost tea and I sprayed some sodium nitrate under the leaf canopy on the ground.  When the sprinklers kick on in early hours of the morning it will water that in and will give the plants the nitrogen that they showed they were lacking on the tissue test report.

Growth on either pumpkin isn't great.  I still have some hope for the 1791 pumpkin, "Bo" but there won't be any state records coming out of my patch this year.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Prevent Powdery Mildew on Your Pumpkin Plants Now

It's August.  That means in about 2-3 weeks powdery mildew will start showing up on the pumpkin leaves.  A few years ago I started spraying Actinovate on the leaves on my plants in early August and in late August I could see the difference.   On one leaf, a couple of years ago,  you could see where another leaf was preventing it from being sprayed on and in the exact outline of the leaf above the leaf below had powdery mildew.  Actinovate probably won't prevent your leaves from getting powdery mildew but I know from experience that it can greatly reduce the severity of the powdery mildew and delay the onset.

I used to only find Actinovate online but now it is in my local garden centers.  Actinovate is a bacterium that is unique because it can be effective when added to the leaves and soil.  It is an organic fungicide that I think is well worth the price.  Consider it a preventative measure.  No biological I've found can eliminate a fungus problem so once you see the problem you are too late.  However, it can help keep things in your favor so you won't get problems.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Newest Pictures from the Pumpkin Patch

Leaves on the 1791 aren't looking good.  That is partially because of all the rain but I know it also has to do with the nutrient deficiencies.  In the future I'll now better recognize what was going on and hopefully correct it earlier.  Problem is that a lot of things kind of look the same and if you don't get on it quickly it will cost you a lot of pounds on the pumpkin as the season goes on.  Growth still isn't ideal on either pumpkin, but that 1791 sure is pretty.  See how she isn't squatting out yet.  Last year the pumpkin smooshed out early because she was thin walled and couldn't take the weight.  I'm hoping that this one isn't smooshing out because it is very thick and the thick walls are holding it upright.  The 1791 pumpkin (AKA "Bo") is estimating between 400-500 pounds right now.


Gave the plants some more grandular nitrogen today.  Realized that I had mis-calculated yesterday. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Greening Up the Leaves

The rain finally stopped this morning.  2 1/2 inches in total on the pumpkin patch.  Lots of lime green leaves because the soil is saturated and the roots are having a hard time getting at nutrients.

I did a foliar application of magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts) and multi-mineral this morning.  I'll do this regularly to help with the deficiencies that the tissue test showed. I also did a granular application of nitrogen to get those leaves greened up.  The application rate that I did for the nitrogen is about 1/3 of what the soil scientist recommended.  I'm going to do those in divided dosages to the amount that the report said.  This soil scientist I know knows more about soil and what an Atlantic Giant pumpkin needs than probably anyone in the world, but he isn't a grower and my concern is that if I put down all of this nitrogen at once I could blow up the pumpkin.

I also put down with the nitrogen a little fulvic acid to help the plants get at the nutrients.

Note from the evening:  It is interesting what a little sun and fertilizer can do.  At dinner time the plants have greened up a lot.  Once that nitrogen kicks in over the next few days we should be in good shape.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2 Inches of Rain and it is Still Coming Down; Plant Tissue Tests

It has been raining like crazy for the last 24 hours.  Two inches so far in the pumpkin patch.  I like a good rain, but this is a little too much.

I got my tissue test report back just now.  I'm glad I sent it in because what has been going on makes a little more sense now, although some of the numbers are a little surprising.    I sent in two leaf stalks on Friday and the lab gave me a pretty detailed report along with recommendations. In the spring I sent in a soil sample and had it tested so I know what my soil had it and I amended it accordingly.  The interesting thing is that you can be very high in something like magnesium and get a tissue test and it will show magnesium low in the plant.   That will be somewhat explained later.

My soil was high in sulfur, phosphorus and nitrogen in the spring.  My tissue test shows low numbers for each of those items.  Some of this I can't explain very well.  Others I know are being blocked from being taken up by the roots because other nutrients that are a little too high in quantity are taking up the cations or places that they can be absorbed by the roots.

The tissue test also showed I was low for zinc, manganese and copper.  Those I'm traditionally low in and apply foliar applications to help with that.

What I'll be doing over the next few weeks is applying regular foliar applications of nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc, manganese and iron.  I'll also apply some blood meal to the soil to increase the nitrogen.

This tissue test explains what I've been seeing in the plants.  The lighter colored leaves near the vine tips is from a lack of nitrogen and magnesium.  It is more pronounced right now with all of the rain going on because nitrogen and magnesium are hard for the plant to uptake with the saturated soil.

This evening I did an application of fish & seaweed.  With all of this rain I don't want to over do it but I also wanted to correct these deficiencies right away to get the pumpkins growing better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Soil Food Web in the Pumpkin Patch

This evening I applied Biotmax and Azos to the soil under the leaf canopy with a little liquid seaweed added.  As I talked about before, Biotamax has beneficial fungi and bacteria that help feed the plant and protect it from harmful bacteria and fungi.  This helps create a 'soil food web' that helps give nutrients to the plants and the plants in turn give products back to the fungi and bacteria in the root zone that benefits the entire community.

I also put down a little granular seaweed, blood meal, gypsum and humic acid.  Rain in the forecast so I figured it was a good time to put this all down so it could get watered in.

Sunday evening I had a bit of a scare.  For three days in a row I saw the pumpkin growth decline to the low teens on both pumpkins.  I thought the plants might have yellow vine disease or something else going on.  Growth on the 335 pumpkin has stayed low, but on the 1791 pumpkin growth has returned to the low 20s for the last two days.  I can't explain it.  I don't think it was weather.  I've never done bad measurements for three days in a row before so that is very unlikely.  All I know is that I'm glad to see the pumpkin growing.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Latest Photos from the Johnson Pumpkin Patch

It looks like the Johnson pumpkin patch finally has pumpkins on all of the plants.  My son's plant, which has last the main vine in two different hail storms, finally got pollinated today.
Pumpkin Patch

1791 Holland "Bo"

1220 Johnson - my son's pumpkin

335 Scherber - my daughter's pumpkin

335 Scherber "Lucille"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some Compost Tea for the Pumpkins

This evening I put down about 2 1/2 gallons of compost tea on each of the pumpkin plants.  This one was a quick brew with 2 tablespoons of liquid seaweed added to Xtreme Tea.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

I have to do everything I can right now to not go out and pour a bunch of fertilizer on my plants.  We are in the big growth zone right now and we aren't seeing the kind of growth that I would like on the pumpkins.  Both plants grew like weeds over the last two weeks, but the pumpkins aren't putting on incredible inches right now.

I have to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race.  Like I said before, there are different kinds of pumpkins and the ones I'm growing this year tend to be more of the long growing, no big gains but constant gain types.  Trouble is that at this point of the season you don't know if you have a long growing type that is going to go heavy (meaning it will be a thicker pumpkin) or if the pumpkins are just not going to grow well this year.

Last year's pumpkin set a bad precedent for me.  That pumpkin was a rocket out of the gate.  It turned out to be a balloon at the end of the season but it sure was fun to watch grow.  At mid-season it was the second biggest pumpkin, in terms of measurements, at the time of the patch tour ever recorded in Colorado and it was still growing very well at that point.  This years pumpkins aren't that way.  What counts is were the pumpkin is at come way off time however and ultimately what the scale says is the truth.

So at this point of the season if your pumpkin isn't as big as you like or as big as your friend's don't fret it.  Do your best and that is all that you can do.

This evening I spent a lot of time burying vines.  Like I said, the vines grew a lot this last week and I had some catchup to do.  Right now my 1791 plant is almost exactly the size my 1421 plant was at the beginning of September.  I've terminated a lot of vines this week as the plant has filled its space.  By the end of July the 1791 will have filled up all of its available space before the pumpkin.  After the pumpkin the plant isn't growing as fast since the pumpkin is sucking up most of the energy right now.

The 335 plant should have filled in all of its available space before the pumpkin in the next two weeks.