Friday, September 29, 2006

The First Year

Good morning, Growers!

My good friend and fellow dragon boat paddler and team mate, Jessie, sent in these images and update:

"Hi, Stuart & Lauren,

First year parenthood was not easy for my friends-Norman & Jane, but it sure provided some experience for them to go for next year!

Hope yours is a successful one.

Can't wait to see it!

Hi Jessie!

Thank you very much for your update on Norman and Jane's pumpkin! I'm looking forward to seeing how they do next season.

See you at Pumpkinmania!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

885 Pounds: The Pumpkin That Almost Was
Good morning, Pumpkinistas!
This update and photo just in from Michelle Lofthouse:
"Hi Stuart!!
It's true....I elected to cut this pumpkin a few days ago to get a weight on it and it was around 885 lbs. There was a pea-sized hole in the blossom end that went through to the cavity...

I'll try resending the picture to you...

See you soon!!
Hi Michelle!
Wow! Thank you very much for your update and picture! It's a monster. I can't wait to see how big your back-up pumpkin gets!
Well done!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Update from Bill M.: Monopolizing the Path

Good afternoon, Growers!

Here's the latest from Bill M., a fellow UCCE Certified Master Gardener who is probably re-thinking his decision to take a giant pumpkin seedling home in May.

"Stuart, As you can see Helen's pumpkin is making a spectacle of itself by the sidewalk on the street adjacent to our home. It is currently about 80" in circumfrance (9/22) and still growing. Any ideas on how I get this into the back of Helen's Explorer on 10/22 so I can get it to the weigh off? Bill M."

Dear Bill,

Truly, the advantages of growing one's pumpkin on a pallet become very apparent this time of year, n'est ce pas? Transporting giant pumpkin entries to weigh-offs is just one of the joys having a pumpkin make it through the season.

Speaking of which, I have an unconfirmed report that Michelle Lofthouse, 2004 and 2005 first-place finisher, had a pumpkin that weighed 885 pounds before discovering that it had developed a disqualifying hole! I would have loved to see an 800-pounder in person! I also have heard that Michelle has a healthy 500-pound plus "back-up" pumpkin, so she's still in the runnning!

Have a great afternoon!


Monday, September 25, 2006

Never give up: Ed's last stand in Carlsbad!
Good afternoon, Growers!
Summer is now over and I think my "Variegated Atlantic Giant" has put on all of the lbs. she is going to this season. I'm not complaining however since, as you can see from the 1st picture on 9/2 until the pics I took today, she has grown considerably. And this is pretty amazing since this "big baby" was not even born until late August!
You called it in your previous email and it is these type of rewards that make this hobby so enjoyable. Thanks always for all of your support and is appreciated!
Ed In Carlsbad"
Dear Ed,
Thank you very much for these images and your insights on giant pumpkin growing! (Even my pumpkin continues to survive and put on some weight, albeit at a very slow rate compared to July.) I am hoping that it will make it to October 22nd!
Wish me luck!
That's a Big Pumpkin!

Good afternoon, Growers!

Truly, giant pumpkin cultivation is fertile ground for whoppers! Speaking of which, Janis P. of Garden Grove has been growing her pumpkin next to a brown wooden fence that I estimate is roughly 6 feet tall. This is a recent photo of her behemoth! I believe those are 55 gallon drums of Coca-Cola resting on top of her pumpkin...

Well done!


Ed in Carlsbad's First Harvest!
Good afternoon, Growers!
It always nice to share...
"Hi Stuart,
This is Bob from Aliso Viejo reporting in that Ed in Carlsbad had his first harvest of the season yesterday morning. Ed and I have been friends for quite a few years. My two boys who are seen in the pictures and I drove down to Ed’s “ranch/estate” yesterday to take part in the first harvest. Ed was generous to allow my sons to choose these Big Max giant pumpkins which probably weighed in around 80-90 pounds. That’s my best guess based on carrying them from the car to the house. Seemed like they weighed more than my boys do! They really have a beautiful rich orange color and are shaped nicely. The boys are anxious to carve them and to have Mom make some pumpkin pies! Since it is only mid September, we will probably wait several weeks until the second week of October to carve and display them. This brings up a few questions which I wanted to get your advice on. I’d like to know how and where you would suggest we should best store or keep the pumpkins until it is time to carve them. Next, the boys want to save the seeds to try and grow some of these giants themselves next season. What suggestions do you have for the care and storage of the seeds. Last but certainly not least (and probably one of the most important questions); do you have any good pumpkin pie recipes which you might want to share with us and the readers of the Pumpkinmania site? We will look forward to hearing from you and to seeing the latest pictures of Ed’s pumpkins on Pumpkinmania!
Thanks in advance for your answers,
Bob in Aliso Viejo"
Hi Bob!
Thank you very much for your message and pictures! I've been battling a series of root canal operations that have laid me low the last 10-12 days! Ouch!
In order to store the pumpkins, keep them in a cool (50-60 degrees is ideal) and dry place and they should keep for as long 4-5 months. When you're finally ready to harvest the seeds, simply take them out of the pumpkin, rinse them off, and dry them in a dark and warm place for 3-4 weeks. Then store them in a paper bag, away from heat and moisture. They should be viable for 3-5 years as long as they aren't exposed to any temperature extremes. Stay tuned for some pumpkin recipes!

The Flying Pumpkin of La Mirada
Good afternoon growers!
Just when you thought it was safe to go outside:

Notes from the La Mirada pumpkin:

Well, let's go back to the beginning... We attended the seminar and we dug our hole... We almost canceled vacation because we need the perfect light of the full moon to plant .....We were so excited to grow our first pumpkin.. We were sure we would have a contender...We just couldn't imagine what to expect of our "first-born" We watered and shielded, we fertilized and weeded, and then finally we just waited for our gi-normas "pompion" to appear.... Finally we had fruit... It was a wonderful few weeks... Then, the terrible day came when we lost our little squash..... A new day has dawned, however, as we are proud to announce new growth and the first ever La Mirada flying pumpkin.... Our Lauren is showing it off here... she thinks ( and I must agree with her ) it is great...

Any suggestions on what to do next?"
Indeed! I've read recently that more people are killed every year by falling coconuts than by shark attacks. True, this isn't a coconut, but I am sure you understand. I suggest placing a platform or some other support beneath the 'lighter-than-air' vegetable above. I think you may be able to create something with a ladder and/or bungee cords. All you need to do is keep it growing until October 22nd.
Good luck and thank you very much for your update and pictures!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bill D. in Solana Beach: Progress since June 24th!

Hello, Pumpkinistas!

Well, if you were wondering about the pumpkin vine that was being grown by Bill D. in Solana Beach in a blue plastic barrel, wonder no more:

"Hi Stuart,

I think that my drum pumpkin has grown as much as it can for its limited soil and leaf production. Probably about 35 lbs. I am still amazed that it made it this long without being vandalized. There is a lot of foot traffic in the back of the facility where I planted the pumpkin. Cal Trans is making some freeway modifications and removed the property fence. Our building has been trashed a few times; so I will name this little guy "Lucky".

You may be interested in a good remedy that I discovered to quickly repair vine splits. Your readers may also benefit from this information. I used Dap brand Kwik Seal tub and tile adhesive chalk. It works like magic with no negative side affects. It can be found in just about any store like Home Depot or Wal-Mart. Most of us have a dried up tube of this stuff laying around the house. Good luck at the weigh-off!

It was a good experience.

I will do it again next year.

Best regards,

Thank you very much, Bill! I think you have a contender for Best Color!



2006 Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & 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 8:30 a.m.-11:30 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 cavity, chemical residue, soil, and soft spots.

6. No foreign material (water, uranium, mercury, et. al) 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.

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

11. For updates, including any changes to the weigh-off & contest rules & regulations, please refer to:

Good morning, Growers!
Ron Sallinger suggested that the rules for this year's weigh-off be publicized, and I completely agree. As always, the theme of Pumpkinmania is fun and being around people who enjoy a little friendly giant vegetable cultivation competition.
Have a great morning!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Over Until The Fat Pumpkin's Finished: Ed in Carlsbad II!
Good afternoon, Growers!
Ed in Carlsbad has apparently had a reprieve! Here are the results of his late season rally!
"Stuart, I'm not done yet! Here I am thinking that the mildew is going to take all of the "steam" out of my pumpkins but they seem to have other things in mind. They are determined to grow in spite of their dwindling "mildew ravaged" leaves. Here are 3 examples that have put on all kinds of weight during the past week. Two are the "Big Max" variety (deep orange color) and I believe the other is a "late bloomer" Atlantic Dill (variegated color). If you compare this with the picture that I forwarded last week, this late bloomer is really showing some promise. Now if the weather will stay warm for a little while longer...Thanks as always! Ed"
What can I say? Just when you think that your season's over... I think the variegated "Atlantic Giant" shows particular promise!
Well done, and thank you very much, Ed!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sean in Costa Mesa Shattering Previous Efforts!

Good morning, Growers!

Sean in Costa Mesa has demolished his previous growing efforts with this season's results. Nice shape and color!

Thank you for sending in your pictures. Well done!


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ed in Carlsbad: 33 and counting!

Good afternoon, Growers!
Here's what I received from Ed D. in Carlsbad today. I think Ed's got the ideal situation for some even bigger pumpkins in 2007...!
My pumpkins may not be the biggest in the U.S. but they are getting lots of attention from the neighbors. I have about 33 of them in all shapes, sizes and colors and the kids in the area have already made their choices for Halloween. It has been fun and in spite of the mildew, they continue to grow.
Thanks for all of your advice and I have learned quite a bit in my first year so I am looking forward to an even "bigger and better" pumpkin growing season next year!!!
Hi Ed!

Thank you very much! I hope you'll consider bringing up your favorite to the weigh-off on October 22nd! Your pictures are great!

I think that growers always learn the most the first season that they grow giant pumpkins. That said, I think growing the really big ones is a combination of art, luck, and science.

I am glad that you're looking forward to the 2007 season!

Thank you very much again!