JABBA THE HUT is leading the greenies at 329 lbs while Kryptonite is close behind at 318 lbs! JABBA is called a ‘bird bath’ because it’s belly button is sitting on top of the squash instead of on the side which is more common. We will go to the OCt 15th weigh-off in Colorado Springs to let the squashes gain as much as possible. I hope there will be no freeze or snow to kill the plants before then-it will be close. I read that they can continue to grow about 1 week after a hard frost and then you just try to keep the pumpkins from losing weight before the weigh-off. It looks like it will be 33°F on Saturday. I’ll have to cover MAX and the Greenie plants with some protective row cover material.
News on my other giants:
I don’t know how heavy the biggest marrow (zucchini) is yet. I will cut all 4 big ones before we go up and take the heaviest. I do know they are all over 43.5 lbs which was the smallest one I took to the State Fair.
The long gourd is currently 79 inches long and I have a ‘baby’ one growing that is 50 inches long and gaining fast as well!
I’m not sure how big the Giant Pear Gourd is but I think it is close in size to the one I took to the fair which weighed in at 102 lbs.
Well my giant pumpkin, MAX or MAD MAX as my neighbor calls him has now (according to the tape measure) reached 439 lbs! He is squeaking out the lbs but still gaining nonetheless. If this is true he will be the new NM State Record set last year at 421 lbs by Kong. I’m holding out for the Oct 15th GPC Weigh-Off. It’s suppose to get cold later this week-down to 36°F at night but as long as it doesn’t reach 32°F Max will be ok. I always cover MAX every night with blankets but will cover the whole plant as well starting on Thursday when the cold snap hits, just to be sure and give the leaves a few extra degrees of protection. I’ve never gone so late to a pumpkin contest because here at an altitude of 7000 feet high you really are playing Russian roulette with the weather. We always get a freeze in Otober, I’m just hoping it waits till after the contest…
My main pumpkin, MAX reached 421 lbs yesterday! I still have a few warm days of September before the big GPC (Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth) weigh-off on October 15th in Colorado Springs, CO. Hopefully it will keep packing on the pounds although it has slowed to a crawl as it gets colder at night. I brought out a blanket to help keep it warm at night. Sounds crazy but if you think about it, the pumpkin is a really large mass and if you let it get cold, it takes a long time in the day to warm up before it starts growing again-sorta like our glass blowing furnace! It looks like it will beat my last year’s NM State record, Kong if the tape measurements are true. They say orange pumpkins weigh lighter than salmon ones with the same measurements so I still want more weight to ensure a new record. Just hoping this glorious weather holds up and we have no freezes till after the weigh-off. GROW NAGUA, GROW!!
It is a good year for me at the State Fair for my giant veggies! I got 5 blue ribbons and first places for all my entries-giant zucchini, giant pear gourd, giant long gourd, giant tomato and giant greenie) and 2 I entered for Elodie ( a second giant zucchini and a tomato) took second places and got red ribbons. We still have bigger veggies waiting for the national contest in Colorado in October…
Today I dropped off my entries for the giant vegetable categories at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds which opens this weekend. I didn’t submit a giant pumpkin this year as I only have 2 going. MAX and BABY HUEY (who I’ve been watching put on 9 lbs a day now for a while). Lava went down to Albuquerque with me to help unload. Here are the candidates I did submit:
This tomato is from a Big Zac variety and is 19.25 inches in circumference and 2 lbs, 14.4 oz in weight. It is still turning red but has completed it’s growth. I didn’t see anything bigger down at the fair. We will see..
This giant ‘greenie’ squash is ‘The Hulk’ and estimated weight is 157 lbs and has put on 7 lbs a day in the last 5 days. Here it is in the back of the Prius. It barely fit in! I still have 2 bigger greenies growing in the garden for the big weigh-off.
Here is the giant Long Gourd, ‘Digi’, which is measured by length-it is 59.5 inches long-basically the length of the back of the Prius with the seats down. It had stopped growing. I still have some longer ones still on the vine that I’m saving for the big contest. In the foreground is the whitish pear gourd.
Here is the third biggest giant marrow (zucchini), ‘Little Boy’, which is 47 inches long and 27 inches wide! It ended up weighing 43.5 lbs which was bigger than the one I took last year to the fair.That one was 34 lbs. I have bigger ones in the garden yet to come for the big contest.
And lastly here is the giant Pear Gourd, ‘Gourdo’, which is 31 inches wide and 41 inches in length. You can’t see it too well here but it is huge. It weighed 102 lbs on the scale at the fair! I debated whether to take it today or leave it for the big contest and decided to take it as it will be for exhibition only up at the big contest as they have no category for it. At least at the state fair I will get a ribbon…
MAX hits 350 lbs today! It continues to grow although it is starting to slow down a bit-no more 11 lb daily gains. I was in the patch and added a few drip emitters and dug the well out again around it and put compost in the well to help slow evaporation.If we get more rain, it might help it gain more as all the secondary vines will suck up water too.
The good news is last year’s champ, Kong was 228 lbs on this date, Sept 1, of last year. I went back and compared pictures and stats from last year’s Sept 1 to this year. They look a lot alike (of course they do their siblings!) only MAX is more orange and bigger. Now mind you Max is 53 days old and Kong was 35 days old on Sept 1 of last year. Max got pollinated earlier than Kong. I figured MAX has extra growing days. Either way I’ll take it. MAX now needs 77 lbs to beat the State record I set last year. I wonder if anyone else is shooting for the State Record this year. Hmmm…
Ah Compost! Just when I thought the squirrels left for the neighbors property, and I didn’t put out the repellant due to all the rain, a squirrel ate a hole ALL the way through my second biggest pumpkin which was just taking off in growth. It’s done. I didn’t cover it as well either, not like MAX which gets triple coverage to keep them from getting to it. So now I only have MAX and one other little pumpkin with time running out. So I am very disappointed.
Closeup of squirrel damage
I still have the giant pear gourd, giant zucchini and giant greenie squashes and giant long gourds doing well and I have now covered them really well since this incident. They all look like mummies wrapped up super tight. It is soo hard to grow these giants and takes up so much time which is fine but then to have it destroyed is hard. I need my ranch dog, Sage, an Australian shepard back on the ranch. She died 2 summers ago of old age and kept everything in order-the coyotes, the rodents, and the neighbor dogs. Ever since she died the the rodents (pack rats, mice and squirrels are making a run on taking over the gardens. And the repellants are expensive. I’m almost ready to call a critter control guy…
Here’s the update on the other GIANT VEGETABLES I’M GROWING THIS YEAR.
1048 pumpkins on Aug.16, 2011
I also have several little pumpkins (biggest 16 lbs.) on another pumpkin plant, the 1048 Grande, that are in great position on the main vine. They were pollinated later and so they are smaller right now but have the potential to get bigger than ‘MAX’. They are growing slowly right now gaining about 5 lbs a day. Hope they take off as well.
This is one plant! HUGE! Biggest I've ever grown. Notice the greenie squash on the right side.
The ‘Greenie squash plant has really blossomed (no pun intended) putting out 5 little green pumpkin type squashes. They are so beautiful, just like a pumpkin only a beautiful green and the plant is huge. Lots of leaves to feed all of them!
Giant Marrow (zucchini)
Meanwhile this giant zuck is doing great measuring 30 inches in length and 12 inches across right now and growing steady. I also have 2 others that are a little smaller than this one on this plant. One of them will go to the NM State Fair but the biggest I will save for the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth Contest in Colorado Springs in early Oct.
And the giant long gourd has many gourds but one gourd growing about 6-8 inches a day in length but it is not on the top of the trellis. I hope I get one pollinated way up on top so it has 10 feet to grow down! This is the one I showed you only 7 days ago when it was 4 inches long!
Well I culled the last little pumpkin on the 895 Grande pumpkin plant, leaving one giant pumpkin who I’ve named ‘MAX’ to suck up all the juice.
Last culled little pumpkin off the 895 Grande 😦
This last little one wasn’t growing for 4 days so I culled it. I only hope nothing happens to MAX that will ruin my season. It hit 216 lb benchmark today. Hope the rest of August and all of September are WARM which will help put on the LBS! It has been putting on 13 lbs A DAY for a week now which isn’t a lot in the giant pumpkin world, but I’ll take it here at 7000 ft elevation. It is on the main vine but only 8 feet out. Giant pumpkin growers like to wait till the blossoms are 10 feet+ out from the main vine to pollinate. I thought it would be the one I would have to cull later. But noooooo, MAX decided it wants the vine all to itself robbing all the other little pumpkins of nutrients (juice) and the plant is not putting out anymore female flowers either which is good-all the energy is going to MAX now as it wants!
Just to put this in perspective on this date, August 16 of last year, KING KONG, who became the NM State Record, was 32 lbs! It got pollinated on July 29, and MAX got pollinated on July 10. I figure it has an additional 2-3 weeks to grow bigger than Kong IF the weather stays warm at night. Wish for a Indian Summer for me… GROW NAGUAS, GROW! (Chinese for grow pumpkins, grow!)
Another gardener friend, Mac asked me a great question about the female flower and the timing of the pollination so I thought I’d give you all some more info.
When you spot a female pumpkin blossom that you want to hand pollinate later, you need to watch it daily as it grows. The optimal position of a female flower will be on the main vine and at least 10 feet out or longer although I did pollinate one this year at 8 feet out for insurance in case no others ‘took’. I will also pollinate every female flower on the secondary vines that grow out from the main vine on the sides. This is all for insurance in case something happens to the best one. Later, after I feel confident which one of these pumpkins is growing the fastest, I will cull all but the first and second fastest growers. So each plant I care about, will have 2 giant pumpkins growing on them. The first and a backup.
Here is a female blossom NOT READY. The blossom is still very green although getting larger.
Here is a female blossom that will be ready to open the next morning. So how do I know when the female blossom will open? I watch the female blossoms closely (they are the ones with the baby pumpkin attached to the base of the flower. I always look for the blossom to get big (still closed) and then the day before, the blossom will get the slightesthint of yellow green on the tip. That’s when I know it will open the next morning. Works everytime. I cover the female flower the night before after the color change and get out in the patch early the next morning.
We have 4 hours from the time the blossom opens which is always first thing in the morning. This is usually between 6am -10am. So I cover the female flower the night before with a piece of row cover and get out in the patch early before the beez take all the pollen from the male flowers. Many times I cover three male flowers that will be ready the next day as well (they haven’t opened up but look like they will the next day) so I have lots of pollen on them. The beez get out early too and will take it all of their pollen if not covered. The pollen is food for the bees. It is protein for them. Beez will go after the nectar and the pollen on these plants. I’m sure the beez are attracted to the big blossoms and wonderfully sweet smell the blossoms emit. Someone should make a perfume out of this smell-it is wonderful. What would that be? Parfum de fleurs de citrouille (scent of pumpkin flowers)!! If I know I’m pollinating, I will get up early. Generally between 6-8 am is when I pollinate them but I have forgotten sometimes and ran out at 10 am to pollinate.
Then after pollination be sure to close up the female with a twistie tie or piece of string for 24 hours as shown here. After 24 hours, you can let the flower open up cause it will either be successful or not and you won’t know till after at least day 10 (that is the benchmark) if it was successful. The female flower shrivels up and drops off (like an umbilical cord) and the baby pumpkin will get larger and larger. If the pollination didn’t take it could be because of several reasons. One reason is because it was too hot the day of pollination (over 90°F). This might cause some pumpkins to abort later. The second reason is because we didn’t get enough pollen on the stigma part of the female blossom. Either way, you’ll see the pumpkin start to grow and then suddenly stop. It looses it shininess, getting duller and softer and usually spots show up as it decays which is a self abortion. If this happens, cut it off. That is why we pollinate more than we need because sometimes the plant self aborts its babies if something is wrong-kind of like a miscarriage for us.
Here are pictures on how I hand pollinate a giant pumpkin…
Here I’m getting ready to pollinate a giant pumpkin. I’ve gathered several male flowers that are by my shoe. I have one in my hand ready. I try to use several male flowers to make sure I get enough pollen on the female flower. Notice the female flower just below my hand that is open and ready to be pollinated.
Here is a closeup of the male flower. The ants can be accidental pollinators too.
Here is a closeup of the female flower. When she opens up first thing in the morning, she is ready to receive pollen.
Here I’m peeling off the flower petals from one of the male flowers. I peel off the petals so only the stamen is left. That way it can get to the female stigma.
Here is the male flower with all the petals off. Notice the pollen on the stamen and around the base.
Now I take the male stamen that is loaded with pollen and use it like a paintbrush to paint the pollen all over the female stigma. then I repeat with the extra male flowers.
Then I tie and close up the female flower so it can’t accidentally get pollinated by the beez. It will stay closed up for one day and then I will untie it as the female blossom will only acept the male pollen for about a 4 hour period. If you want to know who are the parent pumpkins, this is the way to control the assurance of the genetics. We try to get bigger and better pumpkins each year which is why we hand pollinate.
The first giant pumpkin is still growing nicely. Hopefully it won’t abort. We are at day 16 of its life. It is now bigger that a basketball. If it does abort, it will be soon. Hope not. It is bright, shiny and it’s skin is soft. The yellow color is standard with all giant pumpkins. It will turn more orange or salmon color later. It is currently at 38″ in circumference putting on about 2″ a day. We measure around the fattest part of the pumpkin for the circumference measurement. I am not using the OTT method until I know it doesn’t abort. The OTT method will include not only the circumference but the length and width too.
I better get some sand underneath it soon while I still can pick it up. I put fine sand underneath it so a small rock won’t pierce it and water can drain around it so it’s not sitting in mud. Ha! No mud around these parts!
The pumpkin patch is filling in quite nicely but not quite full yet. Look at those big gorgeous leaves-more leaves, more food for the pumpkins! Notice the row cover on the ground in the background. I’m trying to keep the pumpkins uncovered more since it has cooled down and starting the monsoon season. I don’t want to promote fungal diseases by keeping them damp and covered. The plants need to dry out between showers. I keep the actual small giant pumpkin fruit covered in heavy row cover and burlap to shade them out of the sun and keep the squirrel off them. I want their skin soft while they are young. Too much sun hardens them up and slows growth.
So far I have 3 little GIANT PUMPKINS (one is growing quite fast) on the 895 Grande plant, none on the 1048 Grande plant (I accidently broke two female flowers off the main vine and a squirrel ate the only pollinated one) on that plant.
I have 2 pollinated ‘GREENIE’ female blossoms (we’ll have to wait to see if the pollination ‘took’ on them but they had the biggest stigmas on both female flowers I’ve ever seen in my giant pumpkin career-4 years. lol. I hope they took as I’ve never grown GREEN PUMPKIN LIKE SQUASH before.
I also have quite a few GIANT MARROWS going (thank god as the squirrel ate one of those too) on the 78 giant marrow plant. The other giant marrow is now just starting to produce more female flowers-the boyz and the beesz are just waiting for them to be ready! I don’t hand pollinate the giant marrows-I let the beez do it. I don’t worry about the marrows cross pollinating with the pumpkins because the pumpkins are in the Curcubita Maxima family and the giant marrows are in the Curcubita Pepo family so they can’t accidentally cross.
I have one more plant in the pumpkin patch and that is a GIANT PEAR GOURD. I haven’t talked much about it yet as it isn’t very big compared to the other gorillas in the patch but it is flowering and I hope the bees pollinated it. It has beautiful soft fuzzy leaves and tendrils and likes the heat.
As for that squirrel, I’m trying fox urine granules that I bought at Agua Fria Nursery. I sprinkle it every 3 feet all around the perimeter of the garden (like marking my territory and also around each plant). OMG that is stinky stuff. I sure hope it works because tonight I will leave everything uncovered in the pumpkin patch. Wish me luck the stuff works and the squirrel doesn’t have a feast..
Yesterday I set up a ‘Plant Cam’, which is an outdoor waterproof digitized camera. I set it to take one picture everyday at 9am of my 3 giant pumpkins on the 895 Grande plant as they grow. That way I will be able to make a video of the growth of the pumpkin in a video after the season. Once I choose one to keep, I will cull the other two and zero the camera in on the one remaining.
Yesterday I pollinated the 895 Grande female pumpkin flower (scroll back to see what it looked like on July 4th and how much it has grown) with an older male flower from the same plant and I took a fresh male flower from the ‘greenie’ which won’t affect the looks of this pumpkin but may produce green pumpkins from it’s seeds. I just don’t have any opened male flowers from the pumpkins so I had to use the ‘greenie’flower. Notice how much bigger the female flower is now.
So this is how it works. To see more lude photos go to last year post here but basically here’s the dirt on GIANT PUMPKIN MATING HABITS!
All pumpkins produce both male and female flowers and normally the bees do the pollinating landing on the male flowers, picking up the pollen from the male flower and visits the female flower and drops off the pollen on the female flower being attracted by the wonderfully sweet smell of the female flower. BUT with pumpkin growers, we need to know which two pumpkins ‘hook up’ so we don’t get an accidental pollination with a winter squash or another pumpkin we don’t want it to mix it up with. We want to get the biggest pumpkin we can so we keep track of those sort of things. So we hand pollinate. Yesterday I took a male flower and took off the petals and ‘paint’ the pollen all over the female flower stigma with the male stamen. Some of the pollen must go down the female stigma flower for pollination to be complete. If I didn’t get enough pollen on it, it will either not take or abort later. After I pollinated the flower, I used a twistie tie to close it for 24 hours so no bees can accidentally pollinate it. I hope it ‘takes’ but it may not as it was very hot yesterday and quite often it won’t take if the temperature gets too high (over 90°F). There are many baby flowers now so it is going to get interesting very soon!