Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Patch Preparation

Chris Dunn: Preparing for 2013!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

I received this image and the message below from Chris Dunn of Lomita, CA. Like many serious growers, Chris has begun his preparations for the 2013 season already. The sooner you start, the better your preparations will be AND you can save some money by letting nature assist in the preparation. 

Good morning Stuart!

Stuff is starting to happen at the new patch! Everything has been sub soiled to 3 feet, 10 yards of manure spread, a few more yards of good compost, leaves, leaves and more leaves, a good till then a cover crop spread!!! :)

Boy, I can't wait until spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, November 01, 2012

The 2012 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest Results!

Michelle Shim, 3, can hardly contain her excitement!

Ty Hall, of Kellogg Garden Products, Sponsor and Judge examines an entry.

Linda Hales, Huntington Beach, 35.5 pounds

 Perri Williams, Garden Grove, 68.5 pounds

Mae Powell, Pasadena, 111 pounds
Glenn Tanaka, Owner of Tanaka Farms pictured on fork-lift.

Stacey & Wendy Taylor, Laguna Niguel, 150.5 pounds

Russ Jones, Huntington Beach, 189.5 pounds

Kevin Donahue, Mission Viejo, 322.5 pounds

Etha Tovey, Dana Point, 415 pounds

Gary Tovey, Dana Point, 422 pounds

John Gray, Baldwin Park, 502 pounds

Susan Gray, Baldwin Park, 504.5 pounds, and Third Place!

Chris Dunn, Lomita, 795 pounds, and Second Place!

John Sach, Whittier, 991.5 pounds, 2012 Champion Grower

Pumpkin drop to celebrate and honor the 2012 Champion!

(Left to right) Perri Williams, Youngest Grower, John Sach, Funniest Shape, 
Mae Powell, Most Experienced Grower, 
Stuart Shim, Pumpkinmania Host & Creator, 
Chris Dunn, Best Color

John Sach Winner of The 2012 Pumpkinmania!
Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Competition!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Under spectacular blue skies and temperatures in the mid-80s with a slight breeze, John Sach, of Whittier, CA, won The 2012 Pumpkinmania Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest, with his 991.5 pound entry Sally, yesterday, October 28th, 2012 at Tanaka Farms, Irvine, CA. Chris Dunn of Lomita, CA placed second with his entry of 795 pounds, and Susan Gray of Baldwin Park, CA placed third with her entry of 504.5 pounds, just edging out her husband, John Gray, whose entry weighed 502 pounds. 

This year's event garnered local and international media coverage. Doug Irving and Cindy Yamanaka of The Orange County Register and Oscar Wu of The Central News Agency of Taiwan, were on hand, interviewing contestants, and trying to determine which pumpkin and grower would be crowned as the 2012 winner. Here's the link to The Register's story, plus 11 additional images of the competition: Here's the link to the outstanding story by CNA:

In a Pumpkinmania! first, John Sach was celebrated by three, crowd-pleasing pumpkin drops, provided by Kenny Tanaka, of Tanaka Farms. Kenny's father, Glenn, was the fork-lift operator, and had a perfect record of unloading, arranging, and loading during Sunday's event.

Winners in other categories included:

Best Color-Chris Dunn
Funniest Shape-John Sach
Youngest Grower-Perri Williams
Most Experienced Grower-Mae Powell (Who is 93 this year! Way to show 'em how, Mae!)

I would like to thank the following individuals and sponsors for their invaluable help, participation and support:

Ty Hall
Mark Imhoof
Lauren Shim
Casey T. Shim
Dr. Kurtis Kanemaru
Wenda Kanemaru
Phil & Christy Concan
Casey N.E. Shim
Brian Gould
Glenn Tanaka
Kenny Tanaka
Greg Thiel
Pete Yeager
Sharon Stolen
Ann Molloy
Sandy Parco
Doug Irving
Cindy Yamanaka
Oscar Wu
John Sumner
Paul O'Neill

Tanaka Farms
Roadkyll Apparel Graphics
The Orange County Register
Neptune's Harvest Organic Fertilizers
GreenCure Organic Fungicide Products
University of California Cooperative Extension Certified Master Gardeners of Orange County
Beaver Plastics

Thank you very much to everyone that attended and showed support for their favorite growers and entries!

Finally, the 2013 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest will be held at Tanaka Farms on Sunday, October 27, 2013. Please mark your calendars, schedule your planting date(s) for October 27th!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

The Pumpkin Cannon!

Image from

The 2011 Pumpkinmania! First Place Winner, Jim Fredricks!

Preparations are already being made to transport some of this year's entries.

 It's very handy to have an engine hoist available!

It's even better to have an engine hoist and what looks like a re-purposed cell tower!

The 2012 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest is this Sunday!

Hello, Pumpkinistas!

This year's competition is less than 24 hours away! The weather looks like it's going to be great, in the mid-80s, sunny, slight breeze. I suggest bringing a hat, sunscreen, and wearing long-sleeves. Just in case we have an unexpectedly large entry, please bring some gloves. We may need you.

I had an opportunity to survey the weigh-off competition area last week with Glenn Tanaka of Tanaka Farms, this year's venue. I am happy to report that all's well, and I expect the event to be a huge success, no pun intended, due in large part to the enthusiasm, cooperation and participation of Glenn and his staff! 

Plus, there was a great article on Monday by Doug Irving of the Orange County Register, that featured Pumpkinmania and Tanaka Farms:

Tanaka Farms is located at 5380 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92618, their website address is:, contact telephone number is (949) 653-2100. Head west and it's minutes away from the San Diego Freeway and the University Drive/Jeffrey exit. Turn left at the Strawberry Farms/Michelson signal, and the Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch parking will be the next left. Follow the signs to the entry unloading and contest area.

The weigh-off will be held, tomorrow, Sunday, October 28th, from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Registration will be held from 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., with the weigh-off beginning at 11:30 a.m.. We'll be near the Pumpkin Patch area.

Join giant pumpkin and pumpkin growers from all over California and beyond, competing for $1,800 in prize money sponsored by Gardner & Bloome and Kellogg Garden Products, glory and giant pumpkin cultivation immortality. The First Place prize for Biggest/Heaviest Pumpkin is $1,000.00 followed by $500.00 and $300.00 for the second and third place finishers respectively. 

Additional categories will include: Best Color, Funniest Shape, Unluckiest Pumpkin Grower, Most Experienced Grower, Youngest Grower and potentially more. Winners in these categories will win $75.00 in prizes generously donated by our sponsors.

Note: Additional prizes may be awarded to growers in the order they register their entries. Growers registering their entries earlier will be given priority over growers registering their entries later.

Companies sponsoring this year's prizes include Neptune's Harvest Liquid Organic Fertilizers,, GreenCure Organic Fungicides,, Hydrofarm,, Roadkyll Apparel Graphics, (714) 560-0005, and more!

The always popular, limited-editon, Pumpkinmania! T-shirt will be available for $10.00

Also, in a Pumpkinmania first, the winner and his or her pumpkin, will be feted with the firing of Tanaka Farm's pumpkin cannon! It simply does not get any better than this:

Here are the rules:

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 8:00 a.m.-11:00 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 should be wiped off, and no soft spots.

6. No foreign material 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 and a potential ban for life from future Pumpkinmania! competitions.

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

Additional details: Please visit,, or e-mail: and, media inquiries please call: (949) 683-5932.

Free to compete, free to attend! (Except dogs.)

See you then!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Giant pumpkin cultivation with the Grays

 A protected hand-pollinated flower

Giant Pumpkin Cultivation with the Grays!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Here are the latest developments at the Grays:

"Last evening the winds picked up and gave us a little trouble. Mike went out armed with the solution from our local nursery and you can see the doctor was in and the operation was a success, we hope. 

Until next week good luck to all,

Necessity is the mother of invention! I am looking forward to hearing and learning if this method of vine repair works. Also, please note how green and healthy their plant looks in the picture taken at 10:16. Nice!

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

In an effort to reduce the amount of upward and downward scrolling on this blog, I thought it makes sense to consolidate growers' experiences.

"Hi Stuart: I hope all is well. All is still going good and as you can see the bandage is working. Mike has started the water trenches. Main vine is out to four feet now. More next week, Mike and Susan"

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Here are the latest pictures from the Grays. As you can see their vines are looking great! I wish that my vines were doing so well.

"Hi, Stuart, Saw the pictures of the little one. I think you are going to be losing her soon to the sunflowers. But since I am a true lover of sunflowers they look great.Were you able to stave off the bugs on your pumpkins? As for us they say we are in for a real hot July so as you can is in the pictures, Mike has set up some the fans and misters.The plants are doing real well even the one the doctor treated. All is well so far. Until next week, everyone keep growing. 

Mike and Susan"

July 7, 2012

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Here are some great pictures of the Grays' irrigation system in action and the latest news from their patch!

"Hi Stuart,

I'm so glad to see your plants are doing so well. As you can see this week's pictures of the watering systems are all up and running, so far so good. The weather has bee real nice for us also. Until next week everyone keep growing. Mike and Susan"

July 13, 2012

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Apparently, the Grays are experiencing an Alfred Hitchcock-like attack!

"Hi, Stuart, 

Glad to see you won the beetle war. But, you don't know what pumpkin abuse is until the birds get to your blooms before you do. We had to try to pollinate any way we could because of the flower location and high heat. We have been having aborts, but we have our fingers crossed! Hope all is going well with you. Unitl next week, Mike and Susan 

P.S. Do you think there is any hope pollination can take take place with the flower petals gone?"

I think it can. If you can repair a vine with tape, then anything is possible! I think your vines are doing great, and the cooler weather should help a lot too.

July 23, 2012

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas,

Susan Gray sent me the latest images of her and Mike's patch last Friday, and here is her update:

"Hi, Stuart: So far so good, even with the high heat. As you can see from the pictures the pollination seems to have taken so far. But with the heat, we really didn't think it would. How are yours doing with the heat? Until next week, everyone keep cool, Mike and Susan"

Hopefully, I'll have some pictures up from my patch later this week. I modified the watering system (trans. I punched holes in the soaker hose with a knife.) to increase the flow to all of the vines, so I am hoping that its helped them catch up with Susan and Mike! 

July 30, 2012

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

I received this update and the latest pictures from the Grays' patch:

"Hi Stuart, Saw your pumpkin pictures it looks like you are off to a good start too. This week the only thing we are trying to do in the cooler weather is move the pumpkins into a better position so they are not on top of the vine. Also we are using a freezer bag over the stem to keep it dry. So far so good. 

Until next week good luck, 

Mike and Susan"

August 3, 2012

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Well, it looks like the Grays are having a break-out season, in spite of the warm weather!

"Hi Stuart, This week we are still hoping that our pumpkins don't go down. The weather has been very hot, so far so good. Hope your pumpkins are doing well also. Mike and Susan"

August 19, 2012

Good afternoon, Pumpkinistas!

Big wheel, keeps on turning....

"Hi Stuart, Our unrelenting hot weather continues. But pumpkins and plant are still hanging in there somehow. Mike and Susan"

August 24, 2012

"Hi Stuart, Sad day in the Gray patch, lost one due to high heat. But the other one is still hanging in there.The one we lost was a  July-22 pollination. Mike and Susan"

September 14, 2012

"Hi Stuart: As you can see in the picture we received a little break in the weather, 89 instead of 95. Wow, pumpkin has slowed down some but this is the one the birds pecked the petals off of. Plant is still hanging in there somehow.
Mike and Susan" 

September 28, 2012

"Hi Stuart: Well, the plant is finally starting to lose leaves. The pumpkins are still growing but a lot slower. Until next week,
Mike and Susan"

October 11, 2012

"Hi Stuart: A little late with pictures, been doing Halloween decorations. As you can tell in last picture/the close up, it's cantalouping but looking better after trying some vitamin E oil on it.The plant is looking worse but is still growing.Until next time. Mike and Susan"