Monday, March 13, 2006

2006 California Giant Pumpkin Growers Meeting, Elk Grove, CA

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

After a whirlwind drive from Orange County to Sacramento, and back, fighting rain and potential snow, I am happy to report that Lauren and I are safely back from the 2006 California Giant Pumpkin Growers meeting in Elk Grove, CA, which was held this past Saturday.

This was the first time for me to attend, and it was extremely interesting and educational. I'll be sure to let you know next season when it's held and perhaps we can all caravan up to attend. This year, I wanted to get a feel for what goes on at a giant pumpkin growers meeting.

There was a presentation by Don Horneck, PhD, on improving soil conditions for growing giant pumpkins, seed raffles, seed swap, and seed auction. It lasted from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with lunch included, all for $18 per person. There were about 200 attendees including Pete Glasier, the only Hall of Fame grower from California. It was a real treat to meet some of the people I've read about for years. The most exciting part of the meeting was the seed auction. Winning bids ranged from $45 to $200 for an individual seed! It was amazing to watch.

Regarding Dr. Horneck's presentation, it can be summarized as follows:

1) Know your soil's pH and % of dissolved salts through a soil test.
2) High organic matter acts as a buffer for nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium.
3) Calcium applied directly to your pumpkin, either in a chelate or commercial foliar spray will help the condition and quality of your fruit.

Thank you very much to all of the growers who e-mailed me your encouraging messages last week! It's been a few months since my last communication, so it's gratifying to know that growers continue to be interested in growing The Big One.

This season I'm planning to rarely e-mail everyone when new information is posted on this blog (Smith Barney has a byzantine outgoing e-mail policy.) So, I suggest checking it every 10-14 days between now and the beginning of October, and then every 2-3 days after that, just in case there's a big change or news before the weigh-off October 22nd!

Now that it's drying off a bit, it will make for much easier seedling transplanting in May if you prepare your mound and patch now, when the soil is soft and easier to dig...

Have a great week!