Category: Growing Season 2013

Growing Season 2013

Nick’s Garden Center & Farm Market, Aurora, CO

We participated at the Nick’s weigh off this weekend.  We pulled the pumpkin this Tuesday and tried to keep it as cool as possible.  I really didn’t know how much weight I would lose, but it was our only opportunity to lift the giant pumpkin from the patch.  When we left on Saturday, we had to get the trailer through a snow drift in front of our driveway to head out to the competition.  The wind was blowing 35 mph and the temperature was 24 without the windchill.  It is crazy that traveling a 100 miles changes the weather so much.  When we arrived, we shed our coats and enjoyed the company of the other growers who participated in the sunny and windless day.

A big thanks to Nicks for hosting this event!

I was traveling down in hopes to win the Howard Dill Award and ended up winning 1st place and the Howard Dill Award.  My pumpkin’s final weight was 1065 lbs.  I was extremely excited that I broke the 1/2 ton barrier.

Final pumpkin picture.

Howard

The Leader-board

leaderboard

Me holding the Nick’s Trophy and my two new plaques.

winningsAnd of course, we were greeted back to Cheyenne by our Wyoming wind.  

Wind

 

 

 

 

I was thrilled that my family was able to attend with me.  We enjoyed everyone’s company and the event ran extremely smooth.  I was impressed how fast Nick’s was able to get the pumpkins to the scale.  The RMGVG ran another successful weigh-off and all had fun.

Thank you everyone!

Pumpkin Genetics

There was a post on bigpumpkins.com asking about how the 1770.5 Lieber seed did.  As with a lot of seeds, growers have varying luck.  There were personal bests set with this seed and others had problems.  I must of have been one of the lucky ones.

The Lieber plant has been the best plant that I have ever grown.  The seed was easy to germinate and the plant was an aggressive grower.  The leaves and vines were average size and maintained their health through the growing season.  The Fruit was very explosive and I made some major mistakes along the way.  I never imagined that in Cheyenne, WY I would see daily gains between 30-38lbs.  Granted, I only had this for a couple of days, but I was still amazed.  I did not pay close enough attention as to where the vine meets the stem.  The vine stress started pulling the pumpkin off and I did not catch it soon enough.  The pumpkin shutdown for a couple of days while it healed and I never came close to those gains again.

The next mistake that I made was over watering the plant.  The pumpkin quit growing for a couple of days and then started up again after the patch dried out a little.

Here is the current picture

Current Picture of the 1770.5

I did see the yellowing of the leaves, but only on new growth that started after September.

Yellow LeavesI am very happy with the results I saw from this seed.

Lake Corbin

IMG950181I don’t remember receiving this much rain this time of year.  The hail was enough to fill my hail netting and shred the new growth on my 980 that is after the pumpkin.  Being just East of Cheyenne, it is my understanding that we received more rain.  I know Saturday evening there were multiple county roads closed due to flooding.  We had 5 hours of sunshine today and that was a real treat. 

The Mice and Voles Love Pumpkins

Hello fellow growers,

I hope you are protecting your pumpkins if you are receiving the rain and  cold weather like I am.  I receive some type of damage every year from rodents and have not found a full proof way.  Last year, we adopted a cat and he caused damage to my pumpkins last year and this year.  I’m not sure how many mice/voles he has eliminated, but he has left us at least 3 presents this year.  When I found out the weather was going to get bad, I placed mouse traps around my pumpkins and used some moth balls.  Wow! Did my patch smell of moth balls and it still does.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure what level of deterrent moth balls are for voles.  Luckily a little peanut butter on my mouse trap caught the first vole entering the garden and since placing the moth balls, I have not caught any field mice.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to capture/eliminate voles?  He was a fairly large one and unfortunately, it was raining so I have not uncovered my pumpkin for several days to see if he snacked on my pumpkin.

I’m looking forward to my new scale coming!

Actually, I just found a nice article here: http://icwdm.org/handbook/rodents/voles.asp

http://landscaping.about.com/cs/pests/a/vole_control.htm

 

Rainy Day

The pumpkin patch is totally drenched.  My growth has been minimal at best after having some wonderful Wyoming weather.  We had temperatures in the 90s this past week which is rare.  This week, we will have lows at our house in the 30’s.

Before the rain, I decided to apply an inch of water.  I had no idea that we would be receiving inches of rain this week.  Most pumpkins are at a point in their growth cycle where sudden changes can cause splits.  I lost two last year and am hoping I don’t lose any this year.  I feel it’s still early and anything can happen to them.

I do think this will be a year of records.  It would not surprise me if Ron H. sets the Wyoming record again and I’m sure several records will be broken in Colorado.  I know of one grower now in Colorado who lost a pumpkin that would have beat the state record and I have heard that there are others that had potential to beat some state records.  As for me, I’m hoping to set a personal best, but it might be close.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend any weigh offs this  year with my current schedule so I decided to buy my own scale.  I have a scale that is supposed to be certified and shipped to me before October 5th.

A New Colorado Record?

TheRock

It’s always fun visiting other grower’s patches, especially those who are more experienced and are willing to share advice.  I have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Ron Hoffman and visit his patch a couple of times, but this adventure took place in Fort Collins.  I know Pete Mohr is known for growing them big and he set the Colorado State Record with a pumpkin that weighed over 1300 pounds.  Since I missed my club’s weigh off, I had the honor to visit Pete’s patch one evening.

Just to set the record straight, the photo above is from my patch.  I have named this pumpkin The Rock.  I always try and grow orange and end up with at least one white one.  I am hoping this one goes heavy and makes it to a weigh off.

Back to my visit with Pete.  He was very willing to share information and his patch is kept in a meticulous fashion.  I know Ron’s patch is this way as well so I’m thinking I better spend a few more hours out in my patch next summer.  I figured that since this was a new patch and since he had to bring in compost, that he would not have anything growing that’s too big.  Boy was I wrong!  He has a real beauty going and after some discussion, I was finally able to get some numbers from him.  He is well on his way setting another Colorado record if it holds together.  It is really hard to know what growers will end up with since the weigh off is not until the end of September or even October.  I did forget to ask him which weigh-off he was planning to attend, but wish him the best of luck.

I do like to share tips from other growers and one thing I noticed and liked is how he controlled soil compaction.  He used vinyl fencing to step on and slowly moved the fencing around.  My soil is still mostly clay, even after putting tons of sand on.  I also have noticed that it’s like walking on pavement as I navigate my patch.  This is one tip I plan to try next year.

There are still many patches that I would like to visit and I’m always learning as much as I can about this hobby.

Growing Pumpkins In Hail–Number 10

I made it home from work today to confirm our 10th hail storm this year.  Unfortunately, all the new growth on my 980 was hit, but for the most part,  two of my other plants survived.  I have pockets of hail like this all over my garden.

Our 10th Hail Storm

Do What You Can When Growing Giant Pumpkins

I am a firm believer that everyone has different challenges to overcome while growing pumpkins.  No matter what part of the world,  country, state, county, or city you live in.  Your challenge will be a little different than the next person.   In Wyoming, there are dramatic difference as it relates to the climate within 15 miles and within any direction.  I live on the high prairie east of Cheyenne, WY.  This is the start of the hail belt and we have more hail than most places.  As I’m typing this entry, it’s storming and the trees are bent down from the wind.  We are having rain intermixed with pea size hail.  Anytime, it is warm and then we get moisture, I start wondering if it will be rain or hail, but 50% of the time, it is hail.  If you don’t have wind and hail netting, it’s hard to get your pumpkins very large where I live.

However, since it’s usually dry and windy, I do not face other challenges that growers back east do.  We do not have near the number of bugs or diseases to worry about.  We do not know what humidity is and the challenges that come with humidity and rain.

The photo below is my 1426 Wolf.  This plant has a thick stem and large leaves.  The plant does not like heat above 75 degrees and it seems to flag very easy.  So far, the pumpkin is probably one of the heaviest that I have encountered.  Just moving it around so that it is 90 degrees with  the vine tells me that this might go heavy.  Even when it was little, it weighed notably more than the other pumpkins I have ever moved around.  So far it is on day 27 and has been averaging 15 pounds per a day.  We have already had several nights at our house where the temperature has dropped into the 40’s so all my plants have drastically slowed down.  Otherwise, I would have hoped for 20 to 25 pounds a day out of it.

Wolf 1426

8th Hail Storm, destroyed several pumpkins

Hail Netting

Well, we decided to go camping for a night and we had a significant hail storm happen on Friday.  I have lost almost all of the jack-o-lantern pumpkins we were growing.  All of the big pumpkin plants sustained damage and the temperature will not warm up.  We returned on Saturday at 10:30 am and it was still 56 degrees outside.  It never warmed up to 70 and it appears that we have another day where the temperature will not reach 70.

I will be applying a 60/40 milk solution as soon as I see some sun to help deter powdery mildew from taking over the plants.  Some of the plants were damaged so bad, that I might have to pull them, but I won’t know until it dries out and warms up.

2013 Growing Pumpkin Growing Season Update

Pumpkin Seeds for 2013

Giant Pumpkin Seeds for 2013

I am definitely behind on keeping this web site current and keeping everyone informed on how my season is progressing.  Due to other factors, I have not had too much time to spend growing pumpkins.  I had selected the seeds that I planned to grow for 2013 fairly early in the season.  I am always trying to grow the largest and brightest color of orange pumpkin possible.  You will also notice that I am growing genetics from some of the pumpkins that weighed heavy.  Hopefully, I will not experience my pumpkins weighing light this year.  Especially since I had several weigh light last year.  I also thought it would be nice to try and grow my own seed this year.

The season definitely started off to a rough start.  My hail netting blew down multiple times.  I had steel conduit snap this year and decided to secure 2X4 in concrete to have them be ripped out of the ground as well.  Early on, we had two weeks with sustained 35 mph winds gusting to 60mph.  A portion of my garden was destroyed by hail and my wife and I have counted hail on five separate occasions.  In late May, the 660 Corbin experienced frost, even while living in the greenhouse.  I had not realized that my lamp in the hoop house had burned out and all the leaves were frozen.  Just to show you how tough pumpkins are, I stayed with the plant and it regenerated new leaves.  It does not look like a healthy plant, but I set a pumpkin on it today at around 8ft out.  I am using a secondary as the main and will use this as an experiment to see how large they can get after losing all of their leaves to frost early on.

I started all my pumpkins late this year or April 22nd.  I was able to pollinate some on June 30th, but I will probably hold out for the ones that I pollinated today since they are further out.  I’ll show pictures of each plant on separate posts.

The Start of 2013

Just to do a quick recap of 2012:

  1. It was a successful growing year.
  2. I ended my season blowing up two pumpkins(too much vine pruning at once) and having one not take and rotted half-way through.
  3. The remaining two pumpkins did very well and I set a personal best at 818 pounds.
  4. I continue to meet new people who also enjoy the hobby of growing pumpkins.
  5. Both my pumpkins weighed extremely lite this year compared to the chart.
  6. I wrote a mobile application that any mobile device can use to track the growth of the Fruit.  I developed the application using my Droid X and now I have the iPhone 5.  It will be interesting to see how it behaves with my new iPhone.  If I find bugs, I will fix them, but the application can be found at http://reporting.giantstogrow.com
  7. My nicest pumpkin survived multiple vole attacks and cat scratches.  It really shows you how thick their shells are.  The vole had chewed on pounds of my pumpkin, but it still made it to Halloween.  I used a little sulfur dust and that seemed to do the trick by drying  out the wound.  They never did chew all the way through to the cavity of the pumpkin.  I thought the sulfur dust would also be a deterrent, but the voles continued to eat on it.
  8. Placing wood under the pumpkins is a good idea and will help you move it later in the season.  However, I wonder if it made it too cool for the Fruit to develop heavy.

Why did my pumpkins weigh so lite to chart?  Continued below :The start of the 2013 pumpkin growing season actually starts in 2012.  This fall, I paid particular close attention to  adding additional nutrients to the soil.  My pumpkins weighed lite so I’m trying to determine what I can do to prevent this from happening again.  Every year I learn new tricks and things to try.

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