Sunday, June 27, 2010

sizing up


This is the 1424 Werner as of Sunday evening. She is really starting to run and size up as a plant now. The main vine is around 10 feet long. You can see a pumpkin on the vine, but it was too close to the stump for my "keeper". I have a pumpkin that will be about 12 feet out on the main vine, she will be my target fruit. Hopefully I can pollinate around July 4th. I sprayed with garlic barrier tonight, had an attack of catipillars!!!!!! It's alwas fun to see the plants at this stage and really grow.

Jim Fredricks, Santee CA

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ed in Carlsbad: Reflections of June 20, 2010

Good evening, Pumpkinistas!

An update and some thoughts from Ed in Carlsbad:

"Hi Stuart,

Hope you are doing well. Sometimes we all get caught up with the chores of amending the soil, pest control, fertilizing, pruning, etc. and "forget" to enjoy the beauty of the moment. Here are a few pictures that I took today which show how nature has a way of "pulling" it all together and help us to enjoy what we all "work" so hard at. The pictures say it all and are a great reminder of the beauty that surrounds us, which we sometimes overlook in our efforts to grow the big one.

Have a great evening!
Y-Valve to Timer to Hose Connected to Soaker Hose
Mound One Soaker Hose Detail
Mound One Soaker Hose System Live
Mound Two Soaker Hose Exposed
Watering System Installation Complete!

Good evening, Pumpkinistas!

I am happy to report that the watering system for the giant pumpkins I am cultivating at the Farm and Food Lab at the Great Park of Orange County as part of my activities as a UCCE Master Gardener was installed yesterday.

Essentially, a Y-valve, connected to a battery-operated watering timer, connected to a hose, connected to a soaker hose, was connected to the nearest hose bib to the giant pumpkin seedlings. Even though it's relatively simple and certainly fairly inexpensive, it took me a little longer than I thought it would. I spent a lot of time covering the mounds with mulch after winding the soaker hoses in a spiral around the seedlings. Hopefully, the mulch will help keep the soil moist, regulate the soil temperature, keep down the weeds, and better disperse any fertilizer applied as a soil drench, than simply exposed soil.

At least, that's the theory!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Plan B

Here is a really ugly looking scene! Oh the horror of this hobby:) This was the demise of the 991 urena seed. I blew out my main vine, used another vine and it blew out. So I tried one last vine and pop, she blew out too. A world class plant was given a funeral today and hacked up into many pieces by the grower's anger lol. So, on to plan B....

Here is the 1424 Werner 08 seed. After the demise of the 991, she will carry the dream for the season. She is about 6 feet long now, really taking off after a real real slow start. The smallest, most weenie looking seedling you have ever seen! Looking better now. That's why it is always good to have 2 plants in case of a disaster.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mound One Day 14
Mound Two Day 14
Great Park Day 14: Wire Enclosures Installed!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Wire enclosures have been installed around the mounds and giant pumpkin seedlings that are growing at the Orange County Great Park this season, as part of my activities as a UCCE Certified Master Gardener. The staff at the Great Park did an outstanding job fabricating and installing the wire enclosures as you can see from the images that I took yesterday afternoon. I don't anticipate any rabbit, squirrel or other terrestrial animal damage to the giant pumpkin plants because of their excellent work. Vigilance against gopher threats is still being maintained.

From the seedlings' initial transplanting of May 31st, 2010, they've put on quite a lot of leaf and plant growth. I opened up the cardboard boxes in the direction where the primary vines will grow (opposite direction of the first true leaf or in the same direction as the second true leaf) to give the plants plenty room to expand.

Because of windy afternoon conditions, I decided to wait a few (3-5) more days to allow the stems to strengthen a little/thicken up before completely removing the cardboard boxes. In other words, I just didn't want to see the stems snap from the wind and to experience the accompanying emotions of seeing the stems snap from the wind, as soon as I removed the boxes yesterday afternoon.

The next step will be installing some soaker hoses to make watering easier and more consistent.

Then, besides fertilizing, addressing potential powdery mildew, and some vine burying and guidance, it should be simply speculating about what the final weights of the pumpkins will be in the fall...

This is a good opportunity to mention the invaluable help and watchful eyes of Hank Fishman, a fellow UC Certified Master Gardener, and the Master Gardener in-charge of the Farm and Food Lab at the Great Park. Hank's stepped into the breach and has enthusiastically agreed to observe, water and keep an eye on the giant pumpkin seedlings when he's at the Great Park this season. I am very happy and extremely grateful to have Hank to look after the current giant pumpkin plants and in a few weeks, vines.

Thank you very much, Hank!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gavin in Olivenhein III

Good evening, Growers!

I received these photos and a message that the largest trench/mound complex on the West Coast is completed and seedlings have been transplanted as of this early evening.

I am sure Gavin is feeling the elation that the pharaohs must have experienced after completing the pyramids! Congratulations!

Now, the fun begins!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gavin in Olivenhein II

Good evening, Growers!

The saga of quite possibly the most elaborate and biggest mound preparation ever attempted on the West Coast continues!

"Hi Stuart,

We took delivery of our weed-free dirt today (including manure and wild mushrooms). We used a delivery service because we needed 5 cubic yards to fill our hole and don't have a big truck.

Now we have to mix our dirt. Do you have any good suggestions on obtaining the 60/40 mix ratio, or should we just mix shovel by shovel and estimate?

Thank you,


Hi Gavin!

Thanks for the great pictures! Nice!
 Regarding the 60/40 mixture, I guess I'm pretty old school in this regard. 6 shovelfuls of the topsoil and 4 shovelfuls of your existing soil in a wheelbarrow, combined/mixed well, and then dumped into your hole/trench will do it. If you have access to the tractor from before, it would be the same, only using the bucket on the tractor, instead of a shovel, and the trench itself, instead of the wheelbarrow...
 You'll probably want to use the wheelbarrow method for the tops of the mounds to make sure that there's a nice mixture of topsoil/existing soil where you'll be transplanting your seedlings anyway.

I think you may get the West Coast Award for The 2010 Most Effort Expended in Mound Preparation! You're definitely in the running.

The very best of luck to you!


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ed in Carlsbad: First pumpkin of the season!

Good afternoon, Growers!

Ed in Carlsbad filed the following update on his season last night:


Hard to believe considering the cool weather we have had so far this season in Carlsbad, but it looks like my vigorous Breznick is already producing its' first pumpkin...and I haven't even started any fertilizing yet! I had a profusion of male flowers early on however when I checked the plant today, it appears that I already have a small pumpkin beginning to grow. Don't know yet if it will survive but if it does, I may well be on to something "big". Isn't July 4th the typical date for seeing the "baby" pumpkins - am I getting close to a full month head start - I hope so!

Ed in Carlsbad"

Thank you very much for your update, Ed!

Yes, July 4th is when many of the competitive giant pumpkin growers like fruit to set. This is because many of the competitions are scheduled for the first week of October. For those growers wanting giant pumpkins for Halloween, seeing female flowers and fruit setting in mid-late July is perfectly acceptable. In fact, the challenge of early fruit set is making sure that vines and pumpkins continues growing through late September to early October...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Mound One, 7 Days Old
Mound Two, 7 Days Old

7 Days Old: The Seedlings at The Great Park of Orange County

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Here are pictures from yesterday of the giant pumpkin seedlings that are planted at the Great Park as part of my activities as an active University of California Cooperative Extension Certified Master Gardener.

They are now about one week old, and, you can see from my previous pictures, are healthy and growing very rapidly.

You'll note that the seedlings in Mound One have longer stems than the seedlings in Mound Two. I think this is purely a function of height of the box that I used to protect the seedlings with in Mound One. The seedlings in Mound Two are sturdier and more compact. I used a shorter box to protect them. So, I cut the Mound One box height down, roughly 4"-5". Hopefully, with greater access to sunlight, the seedlings in Mound One will develop sturdier stems and become less leggy. Fortunately, this early in the season, it's a minor adjustment. But, it does demonstrate why you should check on your seedlings and (eventually vines) regularly.

The great staff at the Great Park will be putting up a chicken wire fence around the mounds to protect the seedlings from rabbits and other critters soon. I'll also be installing a watering system soon.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Finale of the 2010 World Tour: Seattle!

Hello, Growers!

The final week-end of workshops of the 2010 season were presented in Seattle. Working for the first time with Naomi Murray, Territory Manager of Kellogg Garden Products, the tour visited Emery's Garden, My Garden Nursery, and Bellevue Nursery. Attendance was a little light at Emery's Garden Saturday morning but was more than made up at My Garden Nursery and Bellevue Nursery on Sunday, in spite of a steady drizzle that fell most of the day. All the workshop attendees at all the workshops were extremely motivated. It was a great way to wind up the season.

Seattle was extremely green and it was a treat to see some of the local sights and other local nurseries Saturday afternoon and in between workshops on Sunday.

Thank you very much again for attending the workshops and good luck!