Monday, July 31, 2006

Dispatch from the Los Angeles County Arboretum's Patch!

Good morning, Growers!

I received these pictures from Jill Berry, Programs Director for The Los Angeles County Arboretum over the week-end. It's growing in the Arboretum's Organic Garden, just outside the gift shop, in a 12' x 60' netted area in full sun. So far, so good! As you can see, it's safely nestled among some other plants, and the vine looks very healthy. Speaking of vine health, the scourge of Huntington Beach pumpkin growers, powdery mildew, is taking over my vine. I'll post pictures of my fungus cultures and pumpkin tomorrow. It's amazing how quickly it attacked and took over the vine.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 28, 2006

John Gerdes & John in Midway City!
Good morning, Growers! I believe we have another grower in triple digits!
John Gerdes, a long-time grower in Midway City, was kind enough to send in this picture of his pumpkin and the following comment: "Hi, Here is a picture of my largest pumpkin. I haven't taken any measurements but the height of the bucket is 15 inches. I belive that the discoloration of the leaves is from fertilizer burn. My dispenser did not work correctly." Well, working dispenser or not working dispenser, it's a great looking pumpkin!

Thank you very much!


Thursday, July 27, 2006

(Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Ansel Adams, photographer, LC-A351-3-M-14)

The Work Continues!

Good afternoon, Growers!

The slight cooling trend of the past couple of days seems to be exactly what was needed by the pumpkins. The 90 degree plus weather in Huntington Beach helped to slow down the spread of powdery mildew to the degree that I may have an extra 1-2 weeks more growing time in late September-early October.

Hope your pumpkins are doing well!



Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Michelle in Monrovia: Secret Weapons...

Good morning, Growers!

Michelle Lofthouse, Pumpkinmania 2004 (723 pounds, 'Howard Huge') and 2005 (658 pounds, 'Blondie') First Prize winner, was kind enough to send in some pictures of her pumpkin (roughly 184 pounds from July 22nd) and how she's keeping her vine cool in this heat. That's right, overhead misting, about 4 hours per day.

I don't think I've seen such a dark green and healthy-looking vine. It looks like it disappears over the distant horizon.

I've often wondered what Michelle uses for fertilizer. I never realized that her primary source of soil amendments comes from her horse, Noodles. As Michelle says: "I thought that it would be fun to send you a picture of my biggest pumpkin patch contributor....both figuratively and literally!!"

(If, I could only convince the Huntington Beach city zoning officials for an exception...)

Have a great afternoon, and try to keep cool!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stem and Crack Repair Tip!

As mentioned before, I have a crack in my primary vine, just past where the pumpkin has set. One way to help repair the area is to create a paste of sulfur and water, and apply it to the affected area(s). The sulfur will help dry out the area, and also serve as a disinfectant. So, if you have a crack developing on your pumpkin, or a particularly wet area that may become susceptible to rot, mix up a thick paste of sulfur and water, and apply it generously to the problem area. The earlier you can apply the sulfur paste the better.

The photos were taken Sunday, July 23rd, in the early afternoon. The dimensions were:

Side-to-side: 62"

Stem-to-blossom: 61"

Circumference at widest point: 83"

Total: 206"=194 pounds estimated weight.

I hope the sulfur works!

Take care,


Monday, July 24, 2006

At The Ranch and The Fullerton Arboretum

Last Saturday, there was a tomato tasting and salsa making contest at The Fullerton Arboretum. So, before heading over to the arboretum, Lauren and I did some watering at The Ranch. You can see that the two vines at The Ranch are doing quite well, and already have two very attractive bright orange pumpkins. Not to be outdone, the vines in the Children's Garden at The Fullerton Arboretum are also bearing fruit, albeit somewhat hidden.

Take care,

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Laguna Hills Nursery and Orange County Farm Supply Update

Good afternoon, Growers!

I thought you'd like to see how things are progressing at Laguna Hills Nursery and Orange County Farm Supply. The first and second photos of the pumpkin and vine at Laguna Hills Nursery were taken this afternoon. The third and fourth photos were taken yesterday morning at Orange County Farm Supply. Both Gary Matsuoka and Chris Roy are doing a great job of shading their pumpkins, and it's helping! There has been a lot of progress at both patches.

Keep cool!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Latest Pictures from Huntington Beach

Good morning, Growers!

These images were taken early yesterday morning. Note the white patches of powdery mildew on the leaves of the vine that weren't there last week-end...

Have a great week-end!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

(Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, Dorothea Lange, photographer, LC-USF 34-021087-C)

The Waiting and Watching Continues

Good morning, Growers!

I've received reports from a number of patches around Southern California. The vines at The Los Angeles County Arboretum have one volleyball-size fruit on them. The La Mirada team's vine has also set fruit. I have also heard from 6-7 growers that their vines have female flowers. Bravo to all!

I measured my pumpkin this morning, and the dimensions were, 56", 56", 77"=189" total, the estimator says 152.5 pounds. I'll post pictures tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, the humidity in Huntington Beach has allowed what was a minor powdery mildew issue to evolve into a powdery mildew problem. I'll be spraying again this week-end.

Try to keep cool in the muggy weather!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rosie in Mission Viejo!

Good morning, Growers!

Rosie in Mission Viejo is growing up!

'Here are Rosie's current glamour shots. They were taken tonight (July 18th). We are still concerned that she might be changing color too fast. She is darker on the stem end. We also have included a picture of our shade cover for your critique. We are aware that it will not win any prizes but do you think it is sufficient?

Circumference: 63
Over the Top: 43
Side to Side: 41
Estimated weight: 76.24 pounds

She doesn't seem to be growing as well as she was. Any ideas? Stuart would you care to share what your "baking soda mixture" is?



Hi Dawn!,

Thank you very much for your update and pictures of Rosie! I think your shading method is very good: flexible, effective, easy to use, and inventive. Plus, your leaves are also providing a canopy. Shading is necessary in Southern California because of the intense sunlight. Unshaded, the pumpkin's skin will harden and crack because the pumpkin is growing so quickly.

Regarding your pumpkin's rate of growth, they will slow down after their first big growth spurt, which can last from 10-30 days, depending on the vine and pumpkin. Also, it also may be the case that the very hot weather we've experienced this season accelerated the growing cycle of the vines.

You may also want to try fertilizing just with seaweed/kelp. Now that your fruit has set, you can feed it more with phosphorous and potassium (the P and K, in the N-P-K that you see on fertilizer labels). Seaweed/kelp is also rich in trace elements. I use Neptune's Harvest Seaweed, as a soil drench, one ounce per gallon of water, 4 gallons, every 6-7 days. It has a green label with a picture of King Neptune on it, it's OMRI-listed organic, and available at Armstrong Garden Centers and Orange County Farm Supply.

The baking soda mixture I mentioned is located here:

Thank you again for your update and pictures! Rosie looks healthy and well-tended!



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Linda Hales: Triple Digits!

Good morning, Growers!

Linda Hales has passed the century mark.

'Hi Stuart,

Here is the pumpkin as of 7/17, she seems to be happy. The Coke bottle is the kind they use at sporting events, it's one of the blow up kind, at least 10' high.....

Now the real size...
Circumference: 74"
Over the Top: 46.5"
Side to Side: 50"

Estimated weight: 114.80 pounds




Monday, July 17, 2006

With Linda Hales' Mother-in-law in Huntington Beach

Good morning, Growers!

Here are some pictures of Linda Hales' mother-in-law who also lives in Huntington Beach. As you can see, for reasons unknown yet suspicious, Linda's vine, also in Huntington Beach, and very close by, is much more vigorous:

'Hey Stuart,

Here is the pumpkin plant growing at Gene's mom's house. It has doubled in size from the last time I saw it...Who knows? It may be saving all of its energy for the end to show up everyone...Heehee.

The card in the first picture is for the plant to meditate on, just in case it isn't sure what kind of plant it is...


I read a book titled, Native American Gardening: Buffalobird-Woman's Guide to Traditional Methods, by Gilbert Wilson over the week-end. It's a very comprehensive investigation of traditional Native American gardening methods, including a fascinating description of the custom of 'garden-watching'. A special raised viewing platform was constructed of cottonwood tree branches and poles, and one or two watchers, usually women, would sing songs and make sure nothing happened to their crops.

I know of at least one young grower who sings to her pumpkin every morning. So far, it seems to be working.

Because of some powdery mildew patches on my vine, I sprayed a baking soda mixture on the plant Saturday. I also noticed noticed that I have a primary vine crack right at the stem of the pumpkin. As the pumpkin grows larger, it will make the crack bigger until it separates itself from part of the primary vine. This is not a good situation. It also demonstrates why it's best to select a pumpkin that is growing perpendicular to its vine.

Still, I did have a chance to measure it yesterday morning:

Side to side: 47"

Back to front (blossom end to stem end): 47"

Circumference: 66"

Total: 160"=95 pounds estimated weight

The hot weather continues! The humidity in the air is ideal for powdery mildew, so be vigilant!



Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Update from Huntington Beach

Good morning, Growers!

I think that these images show the buried vine tips and their subsequent drip irrigation lines a little better.

I'll try to tape my pumpkin this week-end, and I'll report my findings early next week.

Saturday may be the hottest day of the year. So, keep that soil moist!

Keep cool,


Thursday, July 13, 2006

With Linda Hales in Huntington Beach

Good morning, Growers!

Linda Hales, friend and fellow UC Master Gardener, is having a great season. Linda told me that's a 3-liter bottle next to her pumpkin...

'Hi Stuart,

Gene got the pictures out of the camera.

Plants to the right of the red car are volunteers: baby boos and a few white baby boos.

The plant left of the red car is the BIG pumpkin. I think it could be 45-50 lbs., what do you think?!


'Dear Linda,

Thank you very much for your images and update! The pictures are very crisp. I like the colors. (I also like the fact that based upon the pictures, that the pumpkin may not be necessarily growing on the vines. I like it. The mental and psychological jousting begins...)

I'm also making you the lead in tomorrow's post.

Welcome to the big time,


And then, the news:

'Ok, I taped the pumpkin using the estimated weight table provided by your blog....
That's as of this morning, July 12th...Hopefully, it will keep growing, and stay alive until Oct.....

Here ya go...


Circumference: 56"

Over the Top: 37.5"

Side to Side: 39"

Estimated weight: 57.24 pounds'


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Big Changes in Huntington Beach

Good afternoon, Growers!

Regular readers of this blog will notice quite a change in my patch in Huntington Beach.

I have:

  • Trimmed roughly 25% of the vine in order to be able to move around it.
  • Cut the tips off of the major vines, and then buried these tips under 2-3 shovelfuls of dirt.
  • Installed a drip irrigation system to water the buried vine tips in order to encourage rooting of these tips.
  • Put the biggest pumpkin on an improvised platform of wood 2 x 4s, and have begun to shade it with a very simple 4 pole, binder clips, and shade cloth canopy.
This is the first season that I've tried the vine tip burying, rooting, and drip irrigation method. So, I hope that this encourages additional secondary root systems that will provide more resources to the pumpkin(s).

I'll keep you updated!

Take care,

An Update from Laguna Hills Nursery and Orange County Farm Supply

Good morning, Growers!

These images of the vines and pumpkins growing at Laguna Hills Nursery on Jeronimo in Lake Forest, and Orange County Farm Supply on Chapman in Orange (both are sponsors of Pumpkinmania and giant pumpkin growing workshops), were taken on the afternoon of July 11th. As you can see, both vines and pumpkins are doing very well. Chris Roy and his staff at Orange County Farm Supply just put a pallet underneath their biggest fruit.

It's shaping up into a great season!

Keep those images and input coming!


Farmer Boys, Inc. fastaurant chain is added to our list of Pumpkinmania sponsors!
Good morning, Growers!
I am very pleased to announce that Santa Ana location of Farmer Boys, Inc., Southern California fastaurants, will be participating as a Hospitality Sponsor for this year's Pumpkinmania Giant Pumpkin & Weigh-off! I very excited to have them aboard, and I look forward to working with them in the future. So, when you have a chance, please visit, and if you happen to dine at their Santa Ana location, please mention that you're a giant pumpkin grower!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Rockwells' Rosie in Mission Viejo

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

This just in from the Rockwells in Mission Viejo. Thank you very much for your images, the link to the weight estimator, and your update on 'Rosie'. She looks great! I am glad to see you already placed her on a pallett, looks like you're going to need it!


"Hi, It's the Rockwells from Mission Viejo again. We just wanted to show you Rosie's progress so far. These pictures were taken Sunday, July 9th. Her measurements were taken today, July 11th.

Here is the website we are using to see how big she is getting.

Circumference: 51"
Over the Top: 36"
Side to Side: 36"
Estimated weight: 46.61 pounds