Sunday, July 5, 2015

Foliar Multi-mineral & Fulvic Acid for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I took off the pollination on the 282 Scherber plant.  Hated to cut it off because I think it would have been my biggest 10 day measurement ever at its current pace, but when I took off the flower petals yesterday it was obviously herniated and as the pumpkin grew it would have easily blown.   Next pollination is going to be about 5-6 days.

Weather is going to cool down in Colorado over the next few days with a descent amount of rain, so I did a foliar application of multi-mineral with a touch of RAW Full Up (fulvic acid), RAW Grow and RAW Yucca. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Some Foliar Fish & TKO for the Pumpkin Plants

I'm doing something a little different this year.  In the past I would have never gave any fertilizer to the plants at pollination time, but this year I'm trying to read the plants and just give them what they need.  Maybe a little riskier, but I think it could yield better results.  This evening I did a foliar application of fish with a little TKO and RAW Yucca in it.  Both quantities were small (1 tsp of each) so I'm hoping it will just nudge the pumpkins along rather than abort them.

Temperatures in Denver were nice today but it is going to be 95 degrees tomorrow.  Will be putting down extra water for that.  Unfortunately the well was down today so I can only do overhead sprinkling right now which isn't ideal because you end up with big dry areas because the big pumpkin leaves act like umbrellas so the watering is very uneven.

Pollination Time! Busy in the Pumpkin Patch


1985 Miller Flower
This morning we had two females open in the pumpkin patch.  I gave both of the females about a 30% chance of opening this morning, but they both popped open today.  The way you know if a flower is going to open the next day is you see the flower elongate and the petals start oranging up the day before.  Sometimes however, they don't orange up a lot the evening before so you have to be prepared just in case they do open.  That was the case with both of these flowers.

There was a hint of orange yesterday evening, so I went ahead and covered each flower so bees couldn't get at them and then I cut off some male flowers that I put in water and took into the house.  This morning at 6:30 (I'm dedicated even on a holiday) I went out into the patch and both flowers were opening.  I took the petals off the male flowers and then rubbed 3 flowers stamen on the inside of the flower.  If you look closely at the 1985 Miller flower below you'll see it covered with pollen.  After pollination I recovered each flower. 
1985 Miller

I have a yard chair that I put over each female flower about a week before pollination.  That is to help keep it cool.  I'll keep that chair in place until the pumpkin won't fit under it anymore.  I'll also cover the pumpkins, once they have laid down on the ground with a piece of polyester, white cloth.  That will help keep the pumpkin from getting sun burn and also keep a curious bird from pecking at the pumpkin which I've had twice before.

The 1985 Miller pumpkin's name is going to be Ada.  The 282's pumpkin will be named Berkley.  Each named after two of my nieces.  The 1985 Miller was crossed with the 282 Scherber and the 282 Scherber was crossed with the 1985 Miller.  Called a reverse cross.

The 1689 Daletas is a seed that my son is growing.  We crossed the 1689 with the 1985 Miller, which is my best looking plant so far. 

282 Scherber
1689 Daletas



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Troubles That Will Have to Be Worked Through

Don't tell my wife that the flowers aren't for her.

Giant pumpkin growing is all about mitigating risk.  You have to do everything you can to anticipate and avoid problems in the pumpkin patch.  Although some problems you can't do much about.  The 2nd female on my 282 plant's main vine didn't show up until 20 feet out but I was happy to finally be able to pollinate it today. Although I saw a problem about 4 days ago.  The flower petals where off to one side and not at the top of the pumpkin.  I knew this couldn't be good.

When I opened the flower to pollinate with pollen from my 1985 plant my fears were confirmed.  The segments of the flower aren't uniform which means the pumpkin won't be uniform.  An uniform pumpkin has a much greater risk of the pumpkin splitting. There is another female that won't be ready for about another 10 days so we will pollinate it as well and hope for something better.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Compost Tea for the Plants & Maybe More Trouble

This evening I gave both plants some compost tea on the leaves.  They should like that.

Saw some trouble on the 282 female I'll be pollinating in the next 1 1/2 days.  Where the flower pedals come out there is a bit of a bulge.  Not a good sign.  I'll know more when the flower opens but my guess is it might be herniated and if that is the case, I'll pollinate this one but probably won't go with it unless something better comes along.  Problem is I'm probably 14 days out from my next female.

New Photo of the 282 Scherber Pumpkin Plant

Below is the picture of my 282 plant.  Under that chair in the distance is the female I'll be pollinating either tomorrow or the next day.  This pumpkin is 20 feet out on the main vine.  Easily the farthest pollination from the stump I will have ever had.  By the end of this week almost all of the side vines on the left hand side of the plant will be terminated.  Still a fair amount of growing room on the right hand side of the plant however.  It has been a very good plant so far and it seems happy.  Hoping this pollination takes because it is only the 2nd female to show up on the main vine so far and I can't afford to wait any longer.  Temps are hot today in Denver but should be cooling a little for the next few days.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Some Foliar Nutrients for the Pumpkin Plants

Tonight I did a foliar application of Lithovit, humic acid, fulvic acid, multi-mineral and RAW Yucca on the pumpkin plants.  Tomorrow is going to be a hot one so I wanted to get a little Lithovit on the leaves.

The 282 Scherber pumpkin plant has a female on it that will be opening Wednesday morning at about 20 feet out on the main vine.  Never would have thought that my first pollination would be the first week of July, but you have to work with what you get sometimes.

The 1985 Miller I'm guessing will be pollinated on the 4th or 5th at about 16 feet out on the "new" main vine.  I cracked the original main vine when trying to put an S curve in the vine where the female I was going to pollinate was located.  Nearly brought me to tears.  Things with that plant had gone perfectly to that point in the season.  I bent the vine very little.  Maybe 4-5 inches, but the vine was thick and although it was nearly 11:00 it was still kind of cool that morning so it cracked.

My fix was to find a vine about 3 vines back that had a female on the tip.  I terminated all of the vines after that vine and I'll treat this vine like it was the main vine.  The plant won't know the difference but this will definitely set me back on what has been a great plant to this point of the season.

Seems like forever since I had a pumpkin on the vine.  Pulled the plants in August last year so it is coming up on a year.  Excited to finally get something going.

Both plants are good sized right now and growing well.  Buried and terminated a mess of vines today.  Also pulled a ton of weeks in the patch.  You have to get those weeds when they are relatively small or they will cause you big headaches later.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Pumpkin Growing

Einstein would have been a giant pumpkin growing genius, because he understood one of the basic premises of pumpkin growing.  That is that everything is relative to the growers position in the universe and how well their pumpkin plant is growing.  Sometimes as growers we are too close to the plant.  We are over watering, over fertilizing or under watering or under fertilizing because we get too focused on the one thing or the wrong thing and as a result we are missing what would be obvious to everyone else.

I often find that "slow" plant growth or pumpkin growth is sometimes relative to what I want rather than the reality of what is happening.  I can't count the times that it seemed like early in the season that the vines are growing slow until I looked at a picture of my plant on this pumpkin blog (I'm this blog's #1 reader) from 5 days before and only then realized how much the plant had grown.  It is all relative.

This perspective in pumpkin growing often makes us a "moreon" (pronounced moron).  I can't count how many times, after seeing another grower's big pumpkin the grower goes home and pours on a bunch of fertilizer on their plant.  Often times "more on" doesn't work.  A perfectly happy plants lives in a space between just the right amount of water, nutrients, sunlight and warmth where everything is working in balance and harmony so a plant wants to grow.  As Goldie Locks will tell you, too much or too little doesn't work.  It all has to be just right.

So this is my pumpkin growing tip of the day.  Don't be a moreon.  Start by researching everything you can about how to create a great, balanced soil.  Then get a soil test, do plant tissue testing, do soil EC testing or whatever you can afford to find out what your patch has and what your plant needs.  After that, develop a pumpkin fertilizing program and put it on paper.  List what you will give to your pumpkin plants each week in spoon size amounts.  Doing this will allow you to give the right amounts of the right types of fertilizers so you don't become a moreon.  Doing this will allow you to focus on your plant and not get distracted by what others are doing or anxiety.

Next, make proper adjustments to your fertilizer program based on what the plant is telling you and the weather.  A good fertilizer program should be a guide, but not a hard rule.  Use your experience and what the plant is saying to guide you in what you do.  If you are inexperienced, than follow my fertilizing program and talk to other growers and ask them for their tips and advice.
 
Lastly, even if you are experienced grower, ask for other growers opinions.  Like I said before, sometimes you get too close to the plants and you are missing the obvious.  Or someone might have some good tips for things you never thought of.  Just this week I asked advice of a grower for things that I was pretty sure I had the right answer for but I wanted to be sure.  Getting a second opinion sometimes sparks new ideas and keeps you out of trouble.  All of this will allow you to be an Einstein in the pumpkin patch and grow your biggest pumpkin yet.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Cocktail of RAW OminA, Fulvic Acid, Humic Acid & Calcium for Plant Calcium Uptake

This morning I did a drench of  RAW OminA (learn more), fulvic acid (learn more), humic acid (learn more) and calcium on both plants.  Like I mentioned before, there was some research that suggested that a pumpkin takes in more calcium (read here) just before and just after pollination.  That is a good thing, so in following that theory I gave both of the pumpkin plants a mixture of chelators and aminos that will help make the calcium in the soil more available.  Those items will actually grab the calcium that is bound up in the soil like a claw so the plant can take it up. 

Not only will calcium be made more available but other nutrients in the soil will also become more available.

Don't give the plant too much OminA at this time.  It is a nitrogen source and you don't want to give the plant much nitrogen at pollination.  Just a small application should be enough to open up calcium ion channels in the plant's roots to get the desired effect.

I'm guessing right now that I'll be pollinating the 1985 female flower on Sunday or Monday.  The 282 female flower will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Foliar Multi-mineral for Plants

This evening I gave the pumpkin plants some foliar multimineral with RAW Yucca.   Plants continue to grow well.  Terminated the first vine on the 1985 plant today.  By the end of this week there will probably be a half dozen more vines terminated on that plant.

Pumpkin Pollination & Genetics

I received a request to write about how to choose what plants to cross and how to develop genetics in your seeds that could potentially grow a world record pumpkin the following season.  I should start by clearing a commonly misunderstood part of pollination.  That is that the pollination you do in the next few weeks will have no effect genetically this season on your pumpkin.  Some think that by pollinating with a particular plant this season might effect how the pumpkin grows this season.  That isn't the case.  The pumpkin isn't the child in the pollination.  It is the seeds in the pumpkin that are the children, so the pollination you do this year will only effect next year's pumpkins.

First, lets talk about how to properly pollinate your female flower so you can keep the genetics pure.  Nature has wonderful pollinators that can do a great job of pollination for you.  Bees and other insects will find open flowers in an instant and most of the time a female flower will get pollinated with little help from us.  However, bees will pollinate with the pollen they have come in contact with and in some cases it won't be the pollen you want.

An Atlantic Giant pumpkin is a Cucurbita Maxima variety but so is a banana squash, so letting the bees do the pollination means that your pumpkin plant the following season, from the seeds this season, might give you a surprise if you don't control the pollination.

What I do to control the pollinations is to cover my female flowers with a little mesh bag the evening  before they open.  You can tell when they are going to open because the flower peddles become more orange and the flower tends to elongate some the day before.  The evening before I find some male flowers (ideally 3-4 but one will work) that I cut off and put in water.  The next morning, around 7:00am I'll take those male flowers and hand pollinate the female flower.  I then cover that female flower with the same mesh bag to make sure bees don't get into the flower over the next hour.  Doing it this way I ensure that both the male flowers and female flowers only have the pollen in them that I want them to have.

Choosing which plants to cross can best be summed up in a Forest Gumps quote, "Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get inside."  Genetics are a funny thing.  Just like in real life, you sometimes have those those short round parents who produce a gorgeous, tall and skinny daughter.  There are world record pumpkins who have produced very small progeny (I think of the 1385 Daletas as an example).   Sometimes the best planned crosses just don't work out.

What I look at when making crosses is the pedigree of both plants.  If you go to tools.pumpkinfantic.com you can search most any seed and look up who mama and papa was for generations.  Typically when doing crosses you either want to bring in a pollinator that is very similar or very different.  So finding a pollinator with the same mama and papa or something that has very little heritage that is the same seems to work out best.

Next I like to look at the shape and ribbing of both parent's pumpkins.  Ideally you don't want a pumpkin that is very ribby.  Ribs can cause splits in your pumpkin because when a deep rib intersects a crack on the inside of the pumpkin, you then have a hole and your season is done at that point.

Next, I like to take a look at the vigor and characteristics of my plants.  If I have a plant that isn't an overly aggressive grower than crossing it with something that seems to be more aggressive might be a good idea.  If I have a plant with big leaves I may not want to cross it with a plant that also has overly big leaves because I found that really big leaves tend not to be as good a shape at the end of the season as wind blows them over.

Lastly, I look at similar crosses that other people have made and see how they tend to work out.  You would think that a 1725 Harp and a 1161 Rodonis, which have both produced world record pumpkins, would be a great cross but in the research I did on other crosses found no great progeny.  This doesn't mean that it couldn't work, but those genetics didn't seem to mesh as well as you would have thought.

Most of the recent world record pumpkins have come from the 2009 Wallace seed.  You look at it's pedigree and you see a cross of two plants that have very little parentage in common.  Obviously that worked.  You then look at the 1725 Harp seed that produced the 2009 pumpkin and it was a selfed pumpkin.  That means the male flowers that pollinated it came from the same plant.   That cross obviously worked as well.

More growers should probably self pollinate their plants.  That practice was kind of frowned upon just 5 years ago until the 1725 Harp started busting out really big and one ton pumpkins.  Selfing can homogenize pumpkin traits and enhance them.  So if you have an exceptional pumpkin plant that produces a really big pumpkin than the seeds from that selfed pumpkin could have some seeds that aren't as good as the parent genetically but it could have seeds that have some of the same traits that have been enhanced.  If enough seeds are grown from that selfed pumpkin that are then selfed the same should happen in the next generation were you can get some super seeds that take the genetics to the next level up.  Problem with pumpkin growing is that you need a lot of growers to grow your seeds in order for that to happen properly, but that is how the seed companies do it to lock in traits and get desirable genetic lines.

This season my plan is to pollinate my 1985 Miller plant with my 282 Scherber plant.  This is one of those crosses where I am bringing in similar genetic lines into that cross.  Haven't decided what I'm going to cross the 282 yet, but I'll be deciding that at the end of this week.

A word of warning.  Many times the best laid pollination plans don't work out.  Lots of times I've planned on pollinating with a particular plant and there were just no male flowers on it that were ready on the day of pollination.   Sometimes you pollinate, get a perfect pumpkin and then there are no seeds or the seeds aren't viable in the pumpkin.  When my big 1421 pumpkin went down I did a couple of late pollination on that plant using pollen from the clone of the 1725 Harp plant that produced the world record 2009 pumpkin.  I would have grown that seed in a second.  It was an ideal cross.  After a semi-early frost I opened up the pumpkins and there was lots of seeds but the seeds weren't mature so none of the seeds would grow.

Happy pollinating to everyone!  Things get exciting in the pumpkin patch this time of year.  Hopefully, in about 30 days from now we will all be talking about how our pumpkins are putting on 35-40 pounds a day.

If you have something you would like for me to write about feel free to post a comment and I would be happy to write about the subject or reply to you comment in the comment fields below.




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Latest Pic of the 282 Pumpkin Plant

This is the 282 Scherber pumpkin plant.  It is a seed from a selfed clone of the 1725 that grew the world record 2009.  It is the "other" seed from the world record plant.  I'd like to prove it is the better seed of the two.  Although this plant is a week younger than the 1985 Miller it seems to be just as good a plant.  It is missing the first side vine on the right hand side.  If I hadn't already picked out the names for this year's pumpkin I would have named it Lefty.

I haven't measured the length of either plant lately but I would guess that both plants are about within a foot of each other in length right now.  Probably about 15-16' long at this point.  The 282 isn't quite as wide as the 1985 however.




Females on the Main Vine on Both Pumpkin Plants & Vine Maintainance Strategies

I've got females flowers on both plants now on the main vine.  It looks like I'll be pollinating on both plants between the 27th and 30th.  About a week later than I would prefer to pollinate but, these will be the biggest plants with pumpkins farthest out on the main vine that I will have ever pollinated. That isn't necessarily a bad thing because if there is more plant to power the pumpkin then in theory a pumpkin pollinated later should make up for lost time. 

There was a fascinating thread on bigpumpkins.com in regards to cell division, when to terminate the pumpkin plant, how big a plant should be to increase pumpkin size by making it the main sink early after pollination.  The ideas shared by a number of growers very interesting.  I personally don't believe that a pumpkin should be terminated (i.e. all of the vine tips taken off) at the time of termination to the extent of what was shared in the articles.  I think there are some other factors that should be looked at that are specific to pumpkin plants, but I think the basic premiss is correct.

The thread is kind of technical, but the idea, based on a study done with tomato plants, is that basically cell division in tomatoes only goes on for about 10 days.  After that the growth of the tomatoes is basically cell elongation.  The study cited is pretty solid and says that you can increase the size of your tomatoes by about 80% by terminating growth at the time of pollination so that the tomato fruit becomes the main sink (or place that the energy in the plant flows to) on the plant.

I think pumpkin plants are a bit different than tomato plants however.  For one the growth cycle is much longer than a tomato.  You are talking about 90 to 100 days of growth.  I think that vines after the fruit also feed the fruit, so although cell division may have stopped, it might be that elongation may be increased with more plant.  Also, there is hormonal signaling that is coming from the vine tips that is telling the plant that it is still growing which may allow the fruit to grow longer.

I think also that the idea that kelp should be refrained from being used early in the season is probably also not correct.  There are numerous good studies that show the increased in root mass from soil applied help.  It probably is a good idea to not apply kelp around pollination time however since the Cytokine's in kelp may be inhibitory of auxins which will promote fruit growth.  Although as Russ said in the thread, we may not be using enough kelp that it would have much of an effect in that way.

My 1985 plant will probably be 60% terminated before the fruit at the time of pollination.  I have some vines that I'll be terminating in the next couple of days and in the next week, with the current rate of growth, the majority of the vines will be terminated or near termination at pollination time.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Some OminA for the Pumpkin Plants

Today I spent more timed than I planned on setting up the watering system for the pumpkin plants.  There were some lines and faucets that working properly so I had to spend time taking care of those.  After that I sprayed some RAW OminaA (learn more) along with RAW Yucca around the outer edges of the plant because I think my nitrogen might be a little low from leaching.

OminA is 12-0-0 and is a amino acid form of nitrogen.  Some of the aminos in OminA help open ion pathways for calcium in a plant's roots which allows for a dramtic increase in the uptake of calcium.  More calcium in a pumpkin plants means possible better resistance to insects, stronger cell walls and some believe it may help make pumpkins that are more resistant to blossom end split.

Earlier this week I sent an email to former two-time world record Ron Wallace and asked him about what minerals and nutrients he finds leach from his patch.  He has a sandy soil so leaching is a much bigger problem than what I have with my clay soil.  He said that magnesium and sulfur are the two that he sees drop after a lot of rain.  For that reason I put down some Epsom salts to get my magnesium up a little.

Today I did a little patch tour with Colorado growing legend Joe Scherber.  They guy has grown more state record pumpkin than I can count.  First went over to his patch looking for pollinators for my pumpkins.  His Radach plant and the 2096 Meier both looked like they had some potential.  Joe then came over to my patch.  He gave a nice compliment.  Said my plants looked the best that I had ever had at this point in the season.  I am pleased with where things are at considering the May that we had.  Having good salad doesn't mean much at this point however, because in the end, it is all about the fruit.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Pic from the Patch

What a difference a week makes.  1985 Miller is growing a foot a day on the main vine right now.  A female has finally showed up on the vine tip, so I should be pollinating in about 7-10 days.
A little leaf burn on the plants new growth today because of 95 degree temps.  Even with misting the plant every 15 minutes it is a little warm.  Did a foliar application of multi-mineral along with some Lithovit and RAW Yucca this evening.  The Lithovit seems to help a little with preventing the leaf burn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Little Bloom to Push a long some Flowering of the Pumpkin Plant

Flowering can take a fair amount of energy from the pumpkin plant so I hit both plants with a very small amount of foliar RAW Bloom (3-12-12) this evening.  A little nudge with phosphorous and potassium can encourage flowering.  However, too much can change up the chemistry and give you the opposite effect.

I have to admit I'm getting a little impatient right now.  Both of my plants have females on the main vine at around the 10 foot mark.  However, I'd like to see my plants bigger before I pollinate a keeper.  I'll pollinate everything because you never know what you'll get and what will take, but ideally I'd like to pollinate at around 14-16' range on the main this year.  I'd also like to pollinate by the 24th if possible.  Problem with that is that once a female shows up, depending on the weather (females seem to develop faster when it is hot out), it is typically 7-10 days until a female flower opens.  That means I need females to show up tomorrow or the next day on the main vine. 

When it comes to females it can really be hit or miss as to when they show up.  When a plant is ready they will sometimes just start popping up all over the place.  Some plants might just get a few females on it at all, so you take what you can get. I think a lack of flowering is sometimes a genetic thing and other times it is because of too much nitrogen in the soil or other imbalances.  Nitrogen will encourage vining and the plant can't just can't switch to flowering mode if there is too much.

One thing you have to look at when it comes to newly pollinated pumpkins is their position on the vine.  Ideally you want that pumpkin to be in a place where that vine won't get kinked or crushed by the pumpkin as it grows.  It is hard to remember, but that pumpkin could be 4-5 feet across at the end of the season and if the pumpkin isn't positioned well, you will have all kinds of problems with the pumpkin trying to pick itself off the vine if it isn't positioned properly.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Brix Testing of Garden Plants Sap

In addition to the EC testing I started doing this year, I am also now doing a brix testing.  This is kind of new to me so I'll let you know what I find as the season goes on.  There is a gardening expert that I talked with that said he typically see brix go down as EC numbers drop.  I'm hoping that a combination of EC testing with brix testing will give me a combination of telling me not only what is happening in the soil, but what is happening in the plant.  With that information I can make adjustments in how and when I fertilize the plant.

Brix basically looks at the thickness of the sap of the pumpkin plant.  It doesn't tell you what is in the sap and what needs to be added, but the assumption is that thicker sap means more nutrients are in the sap and as a result a healthier plant.  By no means is brix testing completely scientific in its measurement, but frankly there are problems with many of the different types of tests that we do.  As long as you understand the variances and weaknesses then you can make adjustments accordingly. 

Today is the first time I've tried doing brix testing.  My hope is that over time and enough testing that I can start to see patterns in the results which will tell me how what I'm doing is effecting the plant.  For example, if I fertilize, will I see an increase in the brix in the few days following?  Also, when I see the EC readings go up and down will the brix follow the same or similar pattern.  If I can find the patterns then I should be better able to refine my fertilizer program and hopefully that will translate to a bigger pumpkin later in the year.

Gave the plants some compost tea in the morning and then then some foliar fish this evening.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Insectoside Time for the Pumpkin Plants

I don't prefer to use insecticides but last year I lost both plants to yellow vine diseases which is spread by cuke beetles and and squash bugs.  A couple of years before that I lost a very nice 1789 Wallace plant to the same disease.  Last season I only saw one squash bug in the patch all season and didn't see any cuke beetles.  It just takes one infected squash bug to end a season early however.

Last season I sprayed, but this season I'm going to spray and also add a systemic to the mix.  That should give me better coverage.  For the contactants I only spay in the evening, to give the bees a better change.  With the rains mostly done and warmer weather happening I suspect we are going to see a lot more bugs coming out.

Crocs in the garden


I missed the whole croc revolution 10 years ago by choice.  Didn't like the looks of them.  Recently picked some up for use in the pumpkin patch.  I have to say, they are excellent for that.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer Program: Part 2

In this post I'm going to discuss in some detail the methodology behind my giant pumpkin fertilizer program. Previously I listed out my fertilizer program which is also listed below.  This fertilizer program should work for many environments but should be adjusted to your specific soil needs.  For example, if you have low PH and need calcium in your soil you would probably be adding lime to your soil.  My soil is high PH, high phosphorous and high potassium so you won't see me adding lime or much potassium or phosphorous to the soil.

Looking at the program below, you'll see that in early May I'm trying to get beneficial biology going in the soil early to help protect the roots and add beneficial bacteria and fungi that will help feed the plant.   In the 2nd week I'm also adding a touch of RAW Phosphouous to the soil.  This particular type of phosphorous, when added in the first three weeks after transplant has been shown to increase root mass by 20%.  Who wouldn't want that?

You'll not that in may I'm not giving much in the way of fertilizers to the plant at this point.  What I am giving is being spoon feed in small quantities.  The soil should be built up enough to properly feed the plant.  You'll also note the kelp I've giving to the plant roots.  This will help build the roots system with different plant hormones that comes from kelp.  The main focus of May should be on the roots of the plant.

In June I'm still spoon feeding the plant but adding a little nitrogen.  The RAW Nitrogen and RAW ominA will help support vine growth and in June it is all about the vines.  A good portion of the nitrogen the plant is going to take up in its live is going to be during the month of June.  RAW ominA is a very interesting product that I just learned about this year.  Not only is it a nitrogen source, but the amino acids that are include in ominA can help open calcium ion pathways by the thousands and even millions.  More calcium in the plant means a healthier plant that is more disease and insect resistent.   Since I have soil that is a little high in potassium, which is antagonistic to the uptake of calcium, I was thrilled to learn what ominA could help me do in my patch. 

Around the third week and fourth week of June is pollination time.  So around that time I'm going to give the plant a drench of ominA, humic acid, fulvic acid and calcium.  Some research shows that the newly growing pumpkin can take in more calcium initially so by adding omina, fulvic acid and humic acid I hope to chelate the calcium in the soil to make it available to the plant.  Again small quantities here.  I don't want to give the plant much nitrogen at pollination time because that is going to want to make the plant grow vines and at this stage I want the plant to start focusing on fruit.

In the past I've kind of held off on potassium around pollination time.  Some have suggested it can cause the fruit to abort.  That could be true, but I also want to grow a pumpkin as big as I possibly can so I'm going to give the plant foliar TKO around pollination time to help the fruit and flowering of the plant and then after pollination spoon feed with a little potassium.

About 24-28 days after pollination that pumpkin should really start to take off.  By this time the plant has hopefully grown to a descent size and some of the side vines on the plant should be terminated.  You should pollinate the pumpkin on the main vine after 9 feet (14 feet would be closer to ideal) and the side vines and main vine should have grown big enough that there are enough leaves and root system to support the growth of the pumpkin.  At about day 28-32 the vines on the plant should really start to slow down in growth as the pumpkin becomes the main sink of the plant (aka black hole).

In July and August the fertilizer program is about supporting the pumpkin growth.  The plant is going to pull up a lot of potassium from the soil.  Like I said before, my soil is a touch high in potassium, but even with that the rhizosphere around the root hairs can only reach so much potassium and as that pumpkin rings the dinner bell, we will want to make sure the plant has what it needs.  This is where some foliar applications can be helpful.

You'll note that each month I'm giving the plants some B-Vitamins. Only in the last few years have scientists figured out how B-vitamins help support the plant.  Basically it triggers a systemic response in the plant that makes it more resistant to insects, pathogens, heat and other stresses.  One application will help the plant for about two weeks.

You'll also notice that towards the end of August I'll be giving the plants a little Cane Molasses.  In the later stages a plant will give less sugars back to the microbes in the soil.  A little cane molasses gives the microbes the carbohydrates they need and in return they will have the energy they need to give nutrients to the plant in the late season.

September is about making sure that the plant has what it needs to continue growth of the pumpkin.  In the past I haven't had great growth in September.  That is partially due to weather but I think my plants on bonking in September and are tired so I'm missing out on wait gains, particularly at the beginning of the month.  So a primary focus this season will be better nutrient management in late August and early September to make sure I'm pushing the pumpkin to the end of the season.

This fertilizer program is a guideline. Read your plants to see what they are telling you what they need.  Don't over fertilize, anticipate needs before they happen and watch the weather because that can sometimes influence when and how much you give a plant.  Grow em big in 2015!  If you are looking for discount fertilizers? Visit our store at seeds.denverpumpkins.com.


May planting outdoors in hoop houses:
Week 1B-vitamin, liquid seaweed, compost tea. With mykos, myco grow, Rootshield and Azos in the planting hole.
Week 2phosphorus, compost tea, fulvic acid, yucca, silica
Week 3compost tea, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid
Week 4compost tea, fish & seaweed, Azos, Biotamax, Actinovate with iron, Rootshild, omina, silica

June vine running:
Week 5Omina, nitrogen, compost tea, yucca
Week 6TKO, foliar multimineral, foliar fish & seaweed, fulvic acid, calcium, ominA, humic acid
Week 7foliar humic acid, compost tea
Week 8foliar multimineral, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid, yucca

July fruit (assumed that pumpkin pollination will be around the last week of June):
Week 9foliar potassium, Omina
Week 10foliar fish & seaweed, foliar multimineral, B-vitamins
Week 11potassium, foliar fish & seaweed, biotamax, actinovate
Week 12cane molasses, foliar multimineral, fish & seaweed on the soil, foliar humic acid

August
Week 13Omina, foliar fish & seaweed, foliar multimineral, compost tea, foliar actinovate, B-vitamins
Week 14potassium, Actinovate, Biotamax, azos, yucca, foliar fish & seaweed, foliar humic acid
Week 15foliar multi-mineral, foliar fish & seaweed, foliar humic acid
Week 16TKO, cane molasses, fish & seaweed on the soil, foliar seaweed, fulvic acid

September
Week 17foliar multimineral, foliar fish & seaweed, foliar humic acid, foliar actinovate
Week 18TKO, foliar fish & seaweed, foliar humic acid, cane molasses
Week 19potassium, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid
Week 20foliar potassium, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid