Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Image: Pumpkin championship
Photo courtesy of NBC News/EPA

A New World Record!

Good morning, again, Pumpkinistas!

Beni Meier, a 30 year-old Swiss gardener, set a new world record in a competition in Mainz, Germany yesterday. His winning entry was 2,096 pounds. So, the crown has moved from Napa, California to Switzerland!

I am hoping that crown comes back to the US, and hopefully to a grower in Southern California. Who knows, maybe at this year's Pumpkinmania!

A Contender/The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

A Contender!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Well, in spite of many growers having disappointing seasons, at least one young grower is excited by his prospects at this year's Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest!

I think it looks like a real contender.

Please mark you calendars:

What: The 2014 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest

Day/Date/Time: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
(Entry registration from 8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m., weigh-off will begin at 11:30 a.m.)

Where: Tanaka Farms, 5380 University Drive, Irvine, CA 92612, www.tanakafarms.com for directions/details.

Gift certificates from the various garden centers and nurseries that hosted workshops this season are being collected and readied for the big day. Naturally, Kellogg Garden Products will play their key sponsorship role as always.

See you then!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Helen Magruder in the mix!

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

Helen Magruder, a giant pumpkin growing enthusiast and fellow UCCE Master Gardener, sent me this photo and update, including some valuable musings about powdery mildew this morning:

"Hi Stuart,

A friend visiting took this picture and sent it to my computer so here it is as of 9/17.  He said he should be in the picture for size reference. A rake would have worked but I think he wanted to send it to his mother or something.  

Re pumpkins, problem is that I can’t control the powdery mildew, all the foliage is gone, see the vines on far right in the picture.  No photosynthesis taking place.   I actually had to review xylem and phloem again, hoping some nourishment could come from the roots.   I’m reminded the circulation is a “two way street”.   I don’t think this will grow in size any more, do you?.  Bill wants to take it to the Expo,  ( I’ll be exposed all right….I’m hoping he’ll claim it as his!!!)

I thought that the heat wave didn’t help, and the powdery mildew must have loved our beach humidity…..aka marine influence?     However further review says not.

Our UC IPM card says that  “unlike many diseases, powdery mildew doesn’t require moist conditions to grow”   “Moisture during spring inhibits  growth”…i.e. of the powdery mildew.
However, “moderate 60-80* encourages the disease”.   What about 90?

I’m wondering if the successful  pumpkin I had several years ago was a more resistant variety.  It actually grew in a more shady place, but hanging over the wall probably increased air circulation. 
Some search references immediately state “select resistant variety” squashes, pumpkins etc.

I have a couple more growing…smaller….and one about 18” long and girth,  looks more like a big pear or squash.. Neighbors have been observing and questioning.  I going to line through  the Master off my MG gardener badge!!
Anyway, I don’t anticipate 800 or 1000#.
Having fun anyway,

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

To stand on The Podium!

To stand on The Podium:
Entry delivery at The OC Fair

Good morning, Pumpkinistas!

In the spirit of friendly competition, I dropped off a couple of entries at the 2014 Orange County Fair's Vegetable Competition, Adult Division. My entries were in the onion category. Since this is the first time I've entered in this category, I am hoping to stand on the podium!

As you can see, in addtition to free admission to the fair, the organizers gave carrot seeds and a participant's ribbon for all those in competition.

The entries will be judged this afternoon, and results will be available starting tomorrow, the opening day of this year's fair.

Good luck to all competitors, and let the best vegetable win!

July 16, 2014 Update:

Good afternoon!

I am pleased to announce that the judges of the "Specimen Onion" competition awarded me a 3rd place! So, indeed, I will be standing on the podium this year.

I would like to thank all those indviduals and resources that contributed to this achievement:

Lauren Shim. my bride and muse, for supporting my vegetable gardening activity

Michelle Shim, my youngest/oldest daughter for her patience and encouragement

Westminster Water Department, for their excellent quality and reliable service

August 11, 2014 Update:

I've since learned that there was/is a new Garden and Floral competition each week of the Fair. This fact was revealed to me when Michelle and I visited the fair to see the onions on display the second week-end of the fair. The onions were gone, disposed of just a few days earlier. 

After recovering from the shock, I regrouped in time to enter the brutally cut-throat specimen onion competition for a second time, the last week's competition. This round, I came in second place. So, I was able stand on The Podium again! 

Photo by Adam Johnson

September 3, 2014, Epilogue:

Wanting to contribute to Michelle's college fund, use some of the extra onions, and use the entire experience as a teachable moment, I convinced Michelle to open up a small onion selling operation at her aunt's Labor Day barbecue. Sales were excellent. After paying sales commissions, Michelle netted $8.00!