Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest Details and Rules

Official design for the 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest
Courtesy and compliments of Roadkyll Graphics
(To pre-order your Official 2014 Pumpkinmania T-shirt for $10.00,
please e-mail Phil Concan at:

It's this Sunday!

What: The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

Day/Date/Time: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
(Entry registration from 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m., weigh-off will begin at 11:30 a.m.)

Where: Tanaka Farms, 5380 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612, for directions/details.

Growers from all over Southern California and beyond will vie for $1,800.00 in cash and prizes including: Biggest Pumpkin, Best Color, Funniest Shape, Ugliest, Youngest, and Most Seasoned Grower and more.

Here are The Rules:

Contest Rules & Regulations

1. This is an open competition to all growers in any part of the world.

2. The pumpkin must be grown by the grower and in the country where the grower resides.

3. A grower may enter only one pumpkin, and no family may enter more than two entries.

4. Entries will be received between 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. on the day of competition.

5. Entries must be sound, healthy, and undamaged. This means free of rot, holes or cracks through to the seed cavity, chemical residue, soil should be wiped off, and no soft spots.

6. No foreign material is to be included in the weighing. Vine must be trimmed within 1.0” from the stem of the fruit. Judges reserve the right to fully inspect each pumpkin before the weight is announced and official. Refusal to allow inspection of a pumpkin will result in its disqualification and a potential ban for life from future Pumpkinmania! competitions.

7. Any pumpkin previously entered in or weighed at any other competition prior to the contest will be deemed ineligible.

8. In the event of a tie, prize(s) will be combined and split equally among entrants.

9. Decision of the judges will be final in all cases.

10. Contest sponsors and staff shall not be liable for compensation for loss, damage, and/or death to any pumpkins, contestants, their families and friends, or personal property. All entrants completely and totally indemnify the sponsors and organizers of the weigh-off and contest.

Additional details: 

Please visit,, or e-mail: and, media inquiries please call: (949) 683-5932.

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!

Monday, October 06, 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.

Hanging in there!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

The Grays' pumpkins managed to survive the heat wave(s):

"Hi Stuart: Plants are looking real bad from the heat but pumpkins are still hanging on some how. They are still growing slowly."

Amazingly, still growing!
Good morning, Pumpkinistas!
The Grays contenders continue to grow, even in the heat!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Image: Pumpkin championship
Photo courtesy of NBC News/EPA

A New World Record!

Good morning, again, Pumpkinistas!

Beni Meier, a 30 year-old Swiss gardener, set a new world record in a competition in Mainz, Germany yesterday. His winning entry was 2,096 pounds. So, the crown has moved from Napa, California to Switzerland!

I am hoping that crown comes back to the US, and hopefully to a grower in Southern California. Who knows, maybe at this year's Pumpkinmania!

A Contender/The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

A Contender!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Well, in spite of many growers having disappointing seasons, at least one young grower is excited by his prospects at this year's Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest!

I think it looks like a real contender.

Please mark you calendars:

What: The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

Day/Date/Time: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
(Entry registration from 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m., weigh-off will begin at 11:30 a.m.)

Where: Tanaka Farms, 5380 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612, for directions/details.

Gift certificates from the various garden centers and nurseries that hosted workshops this season are being collected and readied for the big day. Naturally, Kellogg Garden Products will play their key sponsorship role as always.

See you then!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Helen Magruder in the mix!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Helen Magruder, a giant pumpkin growing enthusiast and fellow UCCE Master Gardener, sent me this photo and update, including some valuable musings about powdery mildew this morning:

"Hi Stuart,

A friend visiting took this picture and sent it to my computer so here it is as of 9/17.  He said he should be in the picture for size reference. A rake would have worked but I think he wanted to send it to his mother or something.  

Re pumpkins, problem is that I can’t control the powdery mildew, all the foliage is gone, see the vines on far right in the picture.  No photosynthesis taking place.   I actually had to review xylem and phloem again, hoping some nourishment could come from the roots.   I’m reminded the circulation is a “two way street”.   I don’t think this will grow in size any more, do you?.  Bill wants to take it to the Expo,  ( I’ll be exposed all right….I’m hoping he’ll claim it as his!!!)

I thought that the heat wave didn’t help, and the powdery mildew must have loved our beach humidity…..aka marine influence?     However further review says not.

Our UC IPM card says that  “unlike many diseases, powdery mildew doesn’t require moist conditions to grow”   “Moisture during spring inhibits  growth”…i.e. of the powdery mildew.
However, “moderate 60-80* encourages the disease”.   What about 90?

I’m wondering if the successful  pumpkin I had several years ago was a more resistant variety.  It actually grew in a more shady place, but hanging over the wall probably increased air circulation. 
Some search references immediately state “select resistant variety” squashes, pumpkins etc.

I have a couple more growing…smaller….and one about 18” long and girth,  looks more like a big pear or squash.. Neighbors have been observing and questioning.  I going to line through  the Master off my MG gardener badge!!
Anyway, I don’t anticipate 800 or 1000#.
Having fun anyway,

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

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