Good evening, Growers!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Good evening, Growers!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I've had a few questions about installing a simple automatic watering system. (Since my seedlings are still pretty small, I've been hand-watering using a watering can.) So, I thought I'd take advantage of the cool weather to install my watering system this morning.
I used a soaker hose wound around the mound, connected to a standard garden hose that's connected to a 4, AA-battery-operated/powered watering timer. (Since the timer uses very little electricity, one set of 4, AA batteries easily last the season.) To hold the soaker hose in place, I bent 3, 8"-10" lengths of clothes hanger wire into U-shapes, and pushed them over the soaker hose, and into the mound where necessary. After the hoses and timer were tightly connected, I placed a mulch over the mound and soaker hose to keep water evaporation to a minimum, the weeds down, and to moderate the soil temperature.
From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes. Of course, the first time I installed the system, it took about one hour. Just make sure that you have the soaker hose, garden hose, timer, and batteries before you start the installation. If you'll need to use the hose bib for another hose, don't forget a Y-hose splitter.
Once the seedlings are a few more days old, I'll water for 15 minutes/day at 6:00 a.m., and then increase it to 30 minutes/day, once the seedlings start vining or if the weather starts warming up.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I) Selecting a planting site
1) Select a sunny place in your garden. Giant pumpkins thrive best in strong sunshine. The larger the area, the better (500-1,000 sq. ft.), but smaller areas have been successfully planted too. An area that receives 8-12+ hours of sunlight per day is ideal.
II) Preparing the soil and mound
1) The best pumpkins come from the best prepared soil. Dig a hole, 40”-48” deep, 3’-5’ in diameter, and mix the soil well with 6-8 bags (9-12 cubic feet) of soil amendments and/or other high organic content materials: well-aged steer or horse manure, compost, humus. More is better!
2) Put the mixed soil back in. You should have a mound, 2’-5’ in diameter, 16”-18” high at its center.
3) Allow 35’-50’ between individual mounds if you are planting more than one vine.
III) Germinating giant pumpkin seeds
1) Soak seeds overnight in warm water (8-12 hours.) This softens the pumpkin seed’s shell and accelerates germination. Start germinating seeds late April to early-mid May.
2) Plant seeds in a 4” minimum or larger peat pot, in a seed germinating mix, flat, 1”-1.5” deep.
3) Keep seeds moist and warm, 75-80 degrees F. range, is ideal.
4) Under these conditions, seeds should sprout in 4-7 days, sometimes even sooner!
5) After the seedling has developed 1-2 true leaves, it is ready to transplant into the mound.
6) Or, you may simply sow your seeds directly into the mound. Competitive giant pumpkin growers have successfully used both methods.
IV) Transplanting seedlings
1) Plant the seedling, peat pot and all, in the center of the mound. Peat pot should be well below the top surface of the mound. Soil surface should be just below the bottom leaves. Transplanting in the late afternoon/early evening will help reduce dehydration, initial sun and wind damage. Water thoroughly.
2) Protect the seedling from winds, strong sunlight, insects and other potential damage by placing an open cardboard box around the seedling until it gets fully established, usually, 7-10 days.
V) Watering, fertilizing & general care
1) Pumpkins are 90% water. Soil should be kept moist. Water daily, to once every 2-5 days, depending on your weather and soil conditions. Watering times should be consistent. Early mornings (5:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.), late afternoons, and early evenings, in this order, are the best times to water.
2) Use an organic fertilizer every 5-10 days. Seaweed (kelp) and/or fish hydrolysate are some of the fertilizers currently being used by competitive giant pumpkin growers.
3) Mulch around the main stem with compost, straw, or well-aged manure, 3”-4” deep. Leave 9”-12” of clearance around the stem. Mulching will help regulate the soil temperature and retain moisture around the main stem and primary root system.
4) Place a wooden pallet underneath the pumpkin before it gets difficult to move (10-25 pounds) to keep the pumpkin’s bottom from rotting, and to facilitate lifting and transporting it later.
5) Shade the pumpkin once it reaches 24”-36” in diameter to help keep the pumpkin’s skin from hardening and cracking from the hot, mid-late summer/early fall sunshine.
For more information and ongoing growing tips, please visit: www.pumpkinmania.blogspot.com
If you have a giant pumpkin growing emergency, question, or discovery, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org