Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Susan and Mike Gray 2014

Note the boards in place to reduce soil compaction...

The Grays are back!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

I always know that the season has begun when I receive the first update from Mike and Susan Gray, veteran competitors and winners of Pumpkinmania:

"Morning Stuart:

We are off and running not in the dirt yet but forthcoming. Until next time 'HAPPY GROWING SEASON TO ALL!'  Mike and Susan"

So, the season has begun!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

An update from the Grays:

"Hi Stuart,

Good news, we are in the dirt. Glad to here you are doing well also with your plants. 

Until next week, Mike and Susan" 

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Here's the latest from the Grays:

"Good morning Stuart,

This week's update: They are off and  growing. How are yours doing? We are loving this weather, how about you? Hope you had a fantastic Father's day. 

Until next week, Mike and Susan"

Note the bench for convenient viewing and monitoring of the vine! 

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

The latest from Mike and Susan Gray:

"Afternoon, Stuart:  This weeks' update is the vine is just starting take off.  It's about 2 feet in length now... Hope yours  is  doing well also.  I hope everyone makes it through the upcoming heat wave.  Until next time.  Mike And Susan"

Taking off!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Here's the latest from the Grays:

"Hi Stuart: As you can tell, we have finally taken off. Looking good. How is your plant doing, especially in this heat? We are pruning the plant and can't wait for a bloom. Until next time, Mike and Susan"

To answer the question, "How is your plant doing?", I'll post some pictures of current progress soon. The heat has taken its toll, and I must admit that daily care has been lacking this season.

New growth!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Here's the Grays' report from July 30th! I have been remiss in posting their updates!

"Hi Stuart,

Sorry it has been so long since the last update. As you can tell a lot has been happening. We have been pruning, and deadheading  the plant. We now have a pumpkin hopefully we won't lose it in this heat wave. How is yours holding out in all of this weather? Hope everyone else is doing great also. Mike and Susan"

Impressive growth!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

From the Grays:

"Hi Stuart: As you can tell,  we have finally taken off. Pumpkin is getting bigger, and the plant still looks great. Hope yours and everyone else is still doing great. Until next time, Mike and Susan"

Ah well, it would be so nice if my season was progressing as nicely as the Grays! Unfortunately, my schedule has prevented me from taking care of the two vines planted near my home. Vine 2 is my only possible hope and it's not doing too well in the recent heat and humidity. 

In the hunt!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

The latest update from the Grays is very positive:

"Hi Stuart, This weather is brutal. Our pumpkins are still growing. How is your's doing? Hope everyone else is still  doing well also. Until next time, Mike and Susan"

My second plant has succumbed to vine abuse and the heat in Westminster. Remarkably, it has fruited a small pumpkin, roughly the size of a softball with a gland problem. If it makes to the basketball-size stage, I intend to sacrifice it to the giant pumpkin gods for next year's season.

To stand on The Podium!

To stand on The Podium:
Entry delivery at The OC Fair

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

In the spirit of friendly competition, I dropped off a couple of entries at the 2014 Orange County Fair's Vegetable Competition, Adult Division. My entries were in the onion category. Since this is the first time I've entered in this category, I am hoping to stand on the podium!

As you can see, in addtition to free admission to the fair, the organizers gave carrot seeds and a participant's ribbon for all those in competition.

The entries will be judged this afternoon, and results will be available starting tomorrow, the opening day of this year's fair.

Good luck to all competitors, and let the best vegetable win!

July 16, 2014 Update:

Good afternoon!

I am pleased to announce that the judges of the "Specimen Onion" competition awarded me a 3rd place! So, indeed, I will be standing on the podium this year.

I would like to thank all those indviduals and resources that contributed to this achievement:

Lauren Shim. my bride and muse, for supporting my vegetable gardening activity

Michelle Shim, my youngest/oldest daughter for her patience and encouragement

Westminster Water Department, for their excellent quality and reliable service

August 11, 2014 Update:

I've since learned that there was/is a new Garden and Floral competition each week of the Fair. This fact was revealed to me when Michelle and I visited the fair to see the onions on display the second week-end of the fair. The onions were gone, disposed of just a few days earlier. 

After recovering from the shock, I regrouped in time to enter the brutally cut-throat specimen onion competition for a second time, the last week's competition. This round, I came in second place. So, I was able stand on The Podium again! 

Photo by Adam Johnson

September 3, 2014, Epilogue:

Wanting to contribute to Michelle's college fund, use some of the extra onions, and use the entire experience as a teachable moment, I convinced Michelle to open up a small onion selling operation at her aunt's Labor Day barbecue. Sales were excellent. After paying sales commissions, Michelle netted $8.00!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I know we have been quiet from the Fredricks patch this year but this will catch you up. We decided to grow our own 980 Fredricks seed this year. Photos above are of my son Joshua, myself with the weed blower and sprayer using a fun and cheap way to spray the plant, and of Mr Chris Dunn, last year's pumpkinmania champion who visited the patch. Pumpkin is small now but hopefully not for long!

Jim Fredricks, San Diego CA

Ashley & Anthony's 2014 Season

Ashley & Anthony's 2014 Season!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

In the pre and post Orange County Fair onion competition, I completely failed in getting this post and pictures up! Ashley and Anthony are growers in Dana Point that not only attended the workshop at Tanaka Farms, but also sought out extra seeds and seedlings to help out some children.

As you can see, Ashley is a photographer in addition to bein an avid gardener.

Here's their update from July 11th:

"Hi Stuart! I hope you and your family (and plants) are doing well! I got around to sending some pics today, the pumpkin seems to be doing well, it is about 22 inches across and 14 inches high currently. I can't lift it anymore as we were making small location adjustments. Growing at a consistent rate, I hope we keep going at this rate!! I have current pics and a few from earlier as well!
Ashley and Anthony"

Nice job!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chris Dunn's 2014 Season

An update from Chris Dunn...

Hey Stuart! Just a little Pumpkimania update. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 2009 Wallace last year. Here she is at 13 days in the patch. I started everything two weeks later this year in hopes of getting in on that late season warm weather we get! I'm rolling the dice and hoping for a strong Indian summer late into September. I have a couple other plants going but nothing picture worthy yet:)

Hope your plants are doing well and the family is good!

Chat soon,


Good morning, Stuart! 

Here's a shot of the 2009 this morning. It's had a few issues but all in all is coming around nicely. Even though I waited a couple weeks later to plant, I'm still right about where I was last year on the same date. Funny how these things do that:). Looks like I'll be in position to pollinate my first one in 5 or 6 days with the next female flower being a few days behind that.

Hope yours are doing well and chat soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blue Hills Nursery 2014

An update from Blue Hills Nursery!

"Hi Stuart,

I just wanted to thank you again for our wonderful seminar. Everyone really enjoyed it. Also here's an update on my pumpkin it's growing quickly! All the customers really enjoy watching it grow as well."

I received this message and images from Jen Van Diest at Blue Hills Nursery. What makes their effort particularly interesting is that Jen's growing their pumpkin at their nursery and in a large container!

So far, so good!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Jen from Blue Hills Nursery in Whittier e-mailed me yesterday and included the pictures that you see above.

"Here's she is. She's growing by the day. I've named her "Maggie Mae". We have a bit of mildew we are treating. She seems to be growing well. Soon I'll break out the umbrella and give her shade from the afternoon heat."

Looking very good!