Monday, December 19, 2011

Field Notes on Science and Nature Michael Canfield

 Meriwether Lewis' journal notes describing the Eulachon fish, February 24, 1806

Notebook entry from Olorgesailie, Kenya, 2003 by A.K. Behrensmeyer,
National Museum of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution

Field Notes on Science & Nature
edited by
Michael R. Canfield

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

I just finished a fascinating book that I think would be worthwhile reading between now and spring. The title of the book is Field Notes on Science & Nature, edited by Michael Canfield, 2011, Harvard University Press, 297 pages, $27.95. Since I try to document my giant pumpkin seasons and other horticultural activities as best I can, and have for years, I've been curious how serious archaeologists, sociologists, paleontologists, and other field researchers use and keep field notes and journals. Now I know. Fortunately, I am happy to report, I'll need to revise my methods slightly, so it won't be necessary to try and recreate several seasons' of giant pumpkin cultivation observations and notes, in addition to ongoing projects involving succulents, bromeliads, dragonfruits, and most recently, coffee! For that alone, it was worth reading this book!

It is available on Amazon and also at the Newport Beach Public Library for those pumpkinistas in the vicinity. To give you a flavor of the book, I've included a couple of actual examples of how scientists take field notes and use journals.

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Franchi Sementi

More seeds!

Good evening, Pumpkinistas!

A recent article in the Financial Times mentioned Franchi Sementi, Italy's oldest family-owned seed company, founded in 1783, and the fact that they have a global following. Their U.S. distributor's website is: Plant seeds are such an affordable luxury, that I find them very hard to resist. These Franchi seeds were no exception. The paper seed packets are huge, 5" x 7", very substantial. They are now safely stored in a relatively dry, cool, dark place, waiting patiently for the spring.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

2012 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

One of the more anticipated events of winter is the arrival of many and different seed catalogs in the mail. I've been ordering hard-to-find and rare squash and pumpkin varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for a few years. (I've ordered from them twice in the last month. I am planning on growing some cherry tomatoes in the spring again for Michelle.) Their latest catalog arrived yesterday and it's a 196-page beauty that you'll refer to over the next 12 months.

U.S. gardeners can request one at:
and international gardeners can download a PDF here:

Have fun!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Ross in Washington State's Season!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

I received these great pictures and a brief account from Ross in Washington, near Lynwood:

"This years fruit of the vine. The largest was an unofficial 225 lbs. I made lots of mistakes, had stem splits on all the vines, and what I thought was going to be the largest got the mold. These are progeny from the seeds that you gave me in 2010 when you spoke at Emery's Garden nursery . Unfortunately, they went out of business. I've cleaned up the patch and wheelbarrowed two pickup loads of horse apples to compost over the winter. I'm looking forward to next year."  

It's very gratifying to know that a workshop attendee, now giant pumpkin grower, has had success growing a monster.

Thank you very much for sending in your update and pictures and good luck in 2012, Ross!     

A Report From Germany!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas! 

Or, perhaps even better, Guten Nachmittag, Pumpkinistas!

I received an update from Janni, a veteran Pumpkinista and vegetable grower in Germany and she included these great images of her season and the following report:

"Hi Stuart

I'm still alive. Even if I had a bad season.
Storm and hail too. I lost many good plants.
Here are some pictures from my Pumpkin year.
I hope they all enjoy it.

My best weighed 334.7 Höllein 11 UOW(631 Jaser 07 x 641 Jaser 09)
And one was really orange beauty.
A cross, made ​​from the best two orange Pumpkins is Germany.

 Best regards from Germany, to all Pumpkinistas.

GermanPumpkinWorld (Janni)"

I visited Janni's website and I saw that she's also growing chilis!

Vielen danke, Janni! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Paul Rys' Latest Beauties!

Paul Rys' latest beauties, November 18, 2011

Seeds harvested from the latest beauties!

Paul Rys' Latest Beauties!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Here's a great picture from Dr. Joe Sabol of Paul Rys' beauties from this season taken last week. Do not adjust the color on your monitor, these pumpkins are really that orange and colorful. Paul's been working on developing giant pumpkins that are not only large, but also very orange. As you can see, his research efforts have been very successful.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

 Classic pumpkinmania!

 The weigh-off team from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

 The winner 745 pounds, grower Jodi Waples

 Even the local fire station members participated!

6th Annual Central Coast Giant Pumpkin Contest

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas! 

I received these great pictures from Dr. Joe Sabol, in San Luis Obispo. The community involvement in this event held on October 20, 2011 is tremendous! The winning pumpkin was 745 pounds and grown by Jodi Waples. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

 Some of the many pumpkins for sale and on display at Peltzer Farms!

Stanley Szymczyk (L.) and Casey Shim (R.) prepare to register growers
and their entries.

Lauren Shim (L.) Christy Concan (M.) and Michelle Shim (R.) selling shirts. 

 Michelle Shim warms up the tractor before the entries start arriving.

 Peltzer Farms' office

 Entries began arriving at 9:30 a.m..

 Mike Gray prepares 'Tiberius' to be unloaded.

 Mark Imhoof directs unloading 'Tiberius'.

That's Charlie Peltzer of Peltzer Farms at the wheel of the forklift!

Next to arrive, 'Jack' grown by John Sach!

John Sach removes a brace that held 'Jack's pallet from sliding back and forth.

This year's weigh-off was dominated by many pale entries.

'Gourdzilla' grown by Vince George is placed carefully on the ground.

Jim Fredricks' entry, 'Joshua' draws a collective gasp from the crowd!

The world press was on hand to capture this moment in history.

Diane McFadden, 'Over 21', 9.5 pounds

Linda Hales, 'Fran', 69 pounds

Wendy Taylor, 'Signe', 102.5 pounds

Tom Stephen, 'Jr.', 159 pounds

Michelle Shim, 'Chicken', 185 pounds
(Because of an unplanned nap, her Uncle Casey, is pictured above.)

Stacey Taylor, 'Alaska', 205 pounds

John Allen, 'Last Hope', 209 pounds

Stuart Shim, 'Hope', 257 pounds

Mae Powell, 'Rocky', 298 pounds

Vince George, 'Gourdzilla', 658 pounds

Mike and Susan Gray, 'Tiberius', 678 pounds

John Sach, 'Jack', 829 pounds

Jim Fredricks, 'Joshua', 980 pounds, Winner!

The 2011 Pumpkinmania!
Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest Final Results!

Good afternoon, Growers!

The 2011 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest was held Sunday, October 23, 2011 at Peltzer Farms in Temecula, CA. The weather was sunny and clear for the event which drew growers from all over Southern California to compete for $1,800.00 in cash, prizes, gift certificates, products from sponsors, and, of course, giant pumpkin cultivation history!

This year's field of entries was unique because of the number of pale colored pumpkins. In spite of a few unexpected venue changes, many loyal pumpkin growers participated in this year's event.

Here are the results of this year's competition:

Cash prizes courtesy of and donated by, Gardner & Bloome of Kellogg Garden Products!

First place, $1,000.00, Jim Fredricks, 'Joshua', 980 pounds, Santee, CA

Second place, $500.00, John Sach, 'Jack', 829 pounds, Whittier, CA

Third place, $300.00, Mike and Susan Gray, 'Tiberius', 678 pounds, Baldwin Park, CA

Fourth place, Vince George, 'Gourdzilla', 658 pounds, Santee, CA

Fifth place, Mae Powell, 'Rocky', 298 pounds, Pasadena, CA

Sixth place, Stuart Shim, 'Hope', 257 pounds, Huntington Beach, CA

Seventh place, John Allen, 'Last Hope', 209 pounds, Corona, CA

Eighth place, Stacey Taylor, 'Alaska', 205 pounds, Laguna Niguel, CA

Ninth place, Michelle Shim, 'Chicken', 185 pounds, Huntington Beach, CA

Tenth place, Tom Stephen, 'Jr.', 159 pounds, Ramona, CA

Eleventh place, Wendy Taylor, 'Signe', 102.5 pounds, Laguna Niguel, CA

Twelfth place, Linda Hales, 'Fran', 69 pounds, Huntington Beach, CA

Thirteenth place, Diane McFadden, 'Over 21', 9.5 pounds, Lake Forest, CA

Best Color-$50.00 gift certificate from Island View Nursery, Diane Mc Fadden

Funniest Shape-$25.00 gift certificate from Orange County Farm Supply, John Sach

Ugliest Pumpkin-$25.00 gift certificate from Batavia Garden Nursery,Tom Stephen

Youngest Grower-$25.00 gift certificate from Batavia Garden Nursery, Jim Fredricks

Most Experienced Grower-$25.00 gift certificate from Batavia Garden Nursery, Mae Powell

The Saddest Example Set for Young Pumpkin Growers/Your Offspring Award-Or, The Mother That Bought Pumpkins at Peltzer Farms For Her Two Children and Tried To Enter Them Into the Weigh-off After 11:45 a.m.. Then, When Informed by The Organizer, That They Were Too Late To Enter, Tried to Go Over the Head of The Organizer and Convince Casey Shim, The Organizer's Father, That They Should be Allowed To Compete. (To her children's credit, they looked embarassed and looked away when all of this was happening.) Your prize is a lifetime ban from competing in any pumpkin competition in North America. You have been Orange and Black-listed.

We would like to thank the following companies for their generous support and participation:

Gardner & Bloome of Kellogg Garden Products

Neptune’s Harvest Liquid Organic Fertilizers


Roadkyll Apparel Graphics

Batavia Garden

GreenCure Organic Fungicide

Island View Nursery

Orange County Farm Supply

Peltzer Farms


Beaver Plastics

Island View Nursery

University of California Cooperative Extension, Orange County, Master Gardeners

Without the following individuals support, help, input, time, humor, intelligence and effort there would be no Pumpkinmania! Thank you very, very, very much!:
Mark Imhoof
Phil & Christy Concan
Ty Hall
Casey N.E. Shim (Thanks for letting me use the backyard!)
Casey T. Shim
Lauren D. Shim
Stanley Szymczyk
Charlie Peltzer
Michelle R. Shim
Janis Parkinson
Charles Arnold
Greg Thiel
Ron Hamada
Chris Roy
Katie Sorensen