Friday, June 30, 2006

Setting Fruit: Giant Pumpkin Vine Life Cycles

(USDA Historical Photo)

Good morning, Growers!

I have been receiving reports from all over Southern California that many growers' giant pumpkin vines are setting fruit! This means that they have already seen male flowers on their vines, and after 4-7 days, the emergence of female flowers. The female flowers are the ones that look like there's a small marble underneath the blossom. This also brings up the fact that all pumpkins are female. They have the seeds, they have the ability to reproduce, they are female. So, since many of you will soon have pumpkins of your own, you may want to start thinking about a suitable name for them. From a botanical standpoint, that would be a female name. This is only a suggestion, you certainly can name your pumpkin anything you would like.

This season's hot weather has certainly encouraged a lot of vine and leaf growth for most growers. This growth, in turn, has encouraged more pumpkins to start setting fruit, and earlier than in the past couple of seasons. I expect some serious contenders in October!

When you have a chance, please stop by Laguna Hills Nursery and Orange County Farm Supply to look at the their vines. I visited Laguna Hills Nursery last week-end, and Gary Matsuoka's vines are doing outstanding. I counted 5 baby giant pumpkins on the vine near the flagpole in the front of the parking lot. I received a call from Chris Roy of Orange County Farm Supply yesterday, and he told me that he's very excited by how well his vine is doing so far. Thank you very much to Gary and Chris for their participation, as always!

It looks like the hot weather is continuing so monitor your soil conditions!

Have a great week-end!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sean in Costa Mesa's Vine and Flowers!

Good morning, Growers!

Sean in Costa Mesa, a second-year grower sent in these images of his vine and flowers. They're a little tough to see, but Sean has some healthy male flowers already blooming! Sean also reports that during his daily inspections, he's been noticing rapid leaf and vine growth (6"-10", depending on weather).

Well done, Sean, and thank you very much for sending in your pictures!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Growing Giant Pumpkins in Containers:A Report from Bill in Solana Beach

Good morning, Growers!

Bill D. in Solana Beach was very kind to send me the following message and images of the giant pumpkin he's growing at work!

Hi Stuart,

Remember me with the 35 year old Dill pumpkin seeds? (San Diego, Solano Beach workshop)
I didn't have the space in my yard for planting a giant pumpkin, so at work, I made a mix of 2 bags of steer manure and the balance with potting soil. Drilled some holes in the bottom of the plastic 55 gal drum, installed a ¼ inch water drip, and planted 3 seeds. VOILA! They popped right up. I gave 2 away to friends, and kept this one. It's one month old.
Plans are (if I'm lucky) to grow a good sized pumpkin on the table with wheels next to the drum. For the Halloween season, roll it to the lunch room for the girls to carve a jack-o-lantern.
Wish me luck!

Truly, necessity is the mother of invention. Thank you very much for sending in your pictures, Bill!



Friday, June 23, 2006

More Hot Weather This Week-end!

(USDA Historical Photo)

Good morning, Growers!

It looks like we're in for another hot the low 90s inland, and 80s near the beach. So, keep an eye your vines, and make sure that they don't get too stressed over the next few days.



Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First Day of Summer: The Research, Work and Play Continues

(USDA Photo)

Good morning, Growers!

Yes, the summer of 2006 begins today. The weather's really been very cooperative so far this season. If you'll recall, the last couple of Junes were very gloomy, so it's a welcome change. If anything, the challenge this season is keeping the pumpkins well-watered.

This Saturday and Sunday is The 10th Annual International Gourd Art Festival in Fallbrook, CA. The website address is: for directions, hours, and other details. The festival takes place under a sun-dappled grove of oak trees. There are many workshops, hula and Polynesian dance performances, and even open-air wine tastings. You'll be amazed at what people create from gourds!



Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Garden Event Calendars

(A.D. Perry and Company, 1887, Syracuse, NY)

Good morning, Growers!

In my ongoing effort to help raise awareness of Pumpkinmania, I have been busy listing our October 22nd event on various garden event calendars. The biggest so far is the National Gardening Association's webite:, and iVillage's Garden Web: If you have any input on other websites that might also work, please e-mail me. Thank you! Stuart

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Ides of June

(USDA Historical Photo Archives, President Hoover and Pumpkin)

Good afternoon, Growers!

The warm days of June have arrived. My vine's roughly 7 feet long, and putting on 8"-12" per day, once the sun arrives in the early afternoon. My only dilemma is I believe I have a 'double' vine. Normally, I would simply plant a new seedling, but I'm committed at this point, plus, I don't have any back-up seedlings.

I'll keep you informed.

Have a great afternoon, and watch those water levels!

Friday, June 16, 2006

John Gerdes: Midway City, 2004

Good morning, Growers!

I came across this image of John Gerdes' mound in 2004, and thought it was very educational. One of the issues facing giant pumpkin growers is soil compaction. Please note the pieces of plywood to help prevent compacting of the soil around the mound and plant.

Have a great week-end!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Watering Tips!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

The great weather continues.

I've noticed my vine has been getting droopy leaves in the early afternoon, say 2:00 p.m. or so. This is not good for June. I'd be more understanding if it was late August or early September, and the temperature was 100 degrees in the shade.

So, I've increased my watering to 30 minutes of soaker hose time, at about 6:00 a.m., daily. I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a great afternoon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sunny Weather!

(NOAA/National Oceanic Atomospheric Administration, Half Moon Bay, CA, October 2003)

Finally, a few days of sunshine to counteract The Gloom of late! I'm getting good reports from growers throughout Southern California and Hawaii. So far, no tragedies, and I'd like to keep it that way.


Monday, June 12, 2006

The New Pioneers of Giant Pumpkin Cultivation: Largest Giant Pumpkin Growing Site in Southern California Established in Lake Elsinore

(Chicago Daily News Negative Collection, DN-0000523, Courtesy of The Chicago Historical Society, published 1902)

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

I am very happy to announce that my long-time and very good friend, Stanley Szymczyk has just started 6 mounds of giant pumpkins in Lake Elsinore. These 6, in addition to the 3 mounds he has already, bring his total number of mounds, to 9! Because of his excellent weather conditions and previous growing experience, we can expect some very big pumpkins. Stanley's given me permission to publish his growing site address so you can stop by if you're in the area: 27297 Lindell Road, Lake Elsinore, CA.

Good luck to Stanley!


Friday, June 09, 2006

The 2006 Pumpkinmania International Haiku Prize for Poetry
Contest Rules & Details

The 2006 Pumpkinmania International Haiku Prize for Poetry is open to any and all members of the giant pumpkin growing public, anywhere in the world.
Poems are judged based on originality, creativity, and artistic quality.
Poem guidelines: Although different syllable patterns are valid forms of haiku, to be eligible for the prize, your haiku must consist of three (3) lines of five (5), seven (7), and five (5) syllables.
For example:

Spring starts the season
The pumpkin vine grows quickly
Bees dance in sunlight

Entries for The 2006 Pumpkinmania International Haiku Prize for Poetry are open until 12:00 midnight PST, Friday, October 20th, 2006.
E-mail your submission to:
Judges regret that they cannot return poems or offer comments on individual entries.
All decisions made by the judges are final.
Entries must be authored by only one (1) poet.
Each poet may submit one (1) entry only.
Prizes will be awarded for First, Second and Third places.
Winners will be notified via e-mail or telephone, and will be announced on the Pumpkinmania web log: , and at The 2006 Pumpkinmania! Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest, October 22, 2006. Winning poems will be published on the Pumpkinmania web log.
Winners retain full copyright of their work after publication.
Additions or subtractions of these rules may be made at the full discretion of The 2006 Pumpkinmania International Haiku Prize for Poetry at any time.
The 2006 Pumpkinmania International Haiku Prize for Poetry, its agencies, affiliates, sponsors or representatives absolve themselves of any liability, financial or otherwise, resulting from this contest. Entrants must agree to these rules and terms to be eligible to win.
There are no entry fees for the contest. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. All rights reserved.
The Objective

While we wait for sunny weather, I thought a picture of Ron Sallinger's 2005, 413 pounder, 'Chuck', on the forks of Brian Smith's Crainco Crane Service's, Gradall, driven, coincidentally by Chuck, might be amusing. Please note the use of a wooden pallet to facilitate transport, loading, and unloading. 'Chuck' also won for Best Color.

Have a great week-end, Stuart

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Photo Essay: The La Mirada Pumpkins!

The Martin Family of La Mirada shared these images of their recent mound preparation and seedling transplanting. I wish my mound looked as good as theirs! Note the placement of the mound in a corner. The walls will reflect heat and light on to their mound and growing area. I also think the walls may even keep the soil warmer by acting as heat sinks.

You can also see that they're also growing mammoth sunflowers. The Martins' garden theme for 2006 is "GIANT".

Thank you very much, and please keep your updates and pictures coming!


Monday, June 05, 2006

The Weather...

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

The weather for the balance of the week should be in the 80s-90s depending on where you grow in Southern California, with a slight cooling trend.

Keep an eye on those seedlings/vines, they're probably going to need less water than last week, but more than last year or the year before.

I am happy to report that my seedling is just beginning to vine. Specifically, that means it's about 20" long, still not touching the ground.

Have a great week!