I’ve been busy in the garden. Which is why I haven’t written lately. Hard to write when so many things need to get done. Here’s the latest update.
WEATHER: How about this crazy weather? Hot, cold, hot. Go figure! That’s how it is this time of year. It actually hailed 6 inches last Saturday between Harry’s Roadhouse restaurant and Seton Village Drive on Old Las Vegas Highway-a very small section of land. Drove through it right after it happened-would not have want to been in that one. Luckily we didn’t get much hail at the farm-thank you universe! Just missed us. One friend of mine was not so lucky and all her veggies got wiped out. Now it is getting warm again.
HARVESTING: Still harvesting lettuces and spinach. In fact I picked almost all the spinach as it will bolt soon with the warmer weather and the lettuce will also bolt soon, so much of that is picked too. The old kale is done now. The new kale ready to go in. The rhubarb is fantastic with many stalks ready to pick. I feel a strawberry-rhubarb gallette coming soon!
PLANTING: The main garden is about half weeded-Ugh! But the beds are all cleaned up and ready for all the tomatoes that will be planted next Wednesday. Now I just have to finish weeding the pathways.
DRIP SYSTEMS: The drip systems are now up and running. I hate it when they act up. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days to get everything going and not leaking. Feels great when it’s done. I can’t believe it went as smoothly as it did this year.
GIANT PUMPKINS: My first giant pumpkin was planted today at my friend, Deborah’s house. Hope it does well out there! Still have 3 more to plant next week here in my garden plus I have some giant long gourds and 2 giant zucchini (marrows) to put in. I’ve had trouble the last 3 years with getting any of my giant pumpkins successfully grown. Hopefully one of the pumpkins will do well this year. I have a plan!
DEER!: We had some deer come and eat all the Orach (which is ok) and half of one of my grape plants (which is NOT ok). Ate the leaves and the flowers of what woulda been future grapes. I covered the rest up with row cover. Hopefully they will not explore and find the plants. There is not much in the main garden to eat so hopefully they will move on. Luckily they did not eat the garlic plants!
MORE PLANTING: The peppers and eggplants starts will be planted the first week of June and the seeds of other warm season crops will go in next week too.
Close up of Peredovik sunflower heads-after the flower petals fall exposing the seeds
Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower in bloom
Today I planted my Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. They are the black oil sunflower seeds that the birds love to eat and this is the variety that is in your bird seed mix that you buy in the store. They are particularly good because they are high in natural fat giving the birds energy. This makes them the best choice of sunflower for feeding birds although the birds love all varieties of sunflower seeds.
I got mine for 2016 fromSouthern Seed Exchange and can’t wait for them to come up. Just plant like any other sunflower seed mixed in your garden with other flowers. They have multiple heads on each stalk. They won’t be as tall as some of the giant sunflowers usually reaching 4-5 feet tall but it’s nice to know I’m helping the birds. After they flower, I leave the heads on and it’s fun to watch the birds eat them right off the plant in the fall. I leave them well into winter where the wild birds will continue to get the seeds out of the heads.
This year I haven’t posted much about my giant pumpkins but I do have some growing. My biggest is named ‘Orange Crush’ because it’s coloring is more orange than any other that I’ve grown before (most have been salmon colored). It is also the bumpiest one I’ve ever grown-not the prettiest-but pretty doesn’t count in giant pumpkin contests-weight does. Gnarly dude! It’s weight measured approximately 289 lbs yesterday and averaging 8.6 lbs a day and should hit 300 lbs tomorrow. It’s seed came from the NM state winner that I grew last year. It is behind last year’s record setter but ahead of the previous year’s winner I grew, so I don’t know what to make of it. Will it get bigger than last year or not? Only time will tell. Still have this month and a week of October for it to grow. A lot will depend on the weather-if it gets cold all of them will slow down to a crawl but if it stays warm and doesn’t freeze at night, it has a chance.
My second biggest is ‘Hugo’ which is flat and oval shaped and on a different plant. Rather beautiful, smooth skinned but doesn’t weigh as much coming in at 182 lbs averaging 5 lbs a day so far. I will leave it to see how big it will get.
I also have three smaller ones-2 on one plant and one on a fourth. I weighed them all and decided to take one that weighed 153 lbs (shown above-I love the glow) and another one that was 100 lbs to the State fair today. I cull some of them to take to the fair but of course leave the biggest ones to keep growing for the contest in Colorado.
I also took my two biggest zucchini (so far) to the fair as they don’t give ribbons for them at the national contests. One was 38.5 lbs and the other was 33 lbs. Last year’s record I set came in at 62 lbs. at the Colorado weigh off. I still have more zucchini growing that I hope will get bigger than last year.
Max and Kryptonite are done. Gone. Cut up and given away for food. A good ending to a great story. The giant pumpkin season is now done. In fact all the vegetables are done. Well almost. Gardening is never really over. Now it’s time to get ready for the next gardening season or you can wait for spring.
Either way, you should clean up your vegetable garden of all the plants that have by now frozen and died and dispose of them with the garbage collectors or in a landfill. Why take them to a land fill and not compost them? Most of us don’t really compost hot enough to kill all the disease pathogens especially going into winter. I do compost the actual fruit or vegetables just not the plants. Powdery mildew, early blight and other diseases can be spread to next year’s crops- so bag the plants and dispose of them in a landfill. They’ll still break down, just not in YOUR garden.
Yes folks it’s true, Mad Max will get axed tomorrow morning at the 4th Annual Pumpkin Bash here in front of Liquid Light Glass’s studio at 10AM. We are looking to give away mass quantities of fresh organically grown giant pumpkin tomorrow by noon. And if anyone sez they don’t taste good, then either they weren’t grown organically or they’ve never tasted one cause they are delicious. Better come early cause last year it was gone in one hour! Any Leftovers will be donated to Kitchen Angels or any charitable organizations that feed the hungry.
Some people have asked me if it’s hard to see my giant pumpkins get cut up and the answer is yes. I have to work through the thought of cutting them up but then I tell myself it’s better than rotting in some compost pile-which isn’t bad either as it goes back to feed the earth.
But they have a higher purpose-feeding people. Besides I need the seeds!
JANNINE’S PUMPKIN SOUP
Here is a great recipe for pumpkin or any winter squash soup
About 10 lbs of pumpkin or winter squash
Chicken broth or vegetable broth or water
1 can Coconut milk (whole or lite)
fresh grated ginger
honey to taste
Cut, quarter and clean out your squash of seeds and stringy stuff. Put oil on exposed edges and put face down on foil lined cookie sheet in a little water and place foil on top of squash so it doesn’t dry out. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 min-1 hr or until soft when pierced by fork. Scoop out flesh and place in a big soup pot and add 8-10 cups of either water, OR chicken broth OR vegetable broth-your preference. Then take a mixer or one of those hand held blender wands and mix till smooth. Heat and then add the can of coconut milk, some fresh grated ginger (peel first) and honey to taste. Do not boil. Yummy!
Here are some pics of the weigh-off on last Saturday in Colorado Springs. It’s always fun to see everyone’s results after growing these giants for 6 months or more. I planted all my giant veggie seeds on April 7 of this year-that was 188 days of the plants growing. No wonder we become attached! And the actual pumpkins/squashes were pollinated around July 10, which was 95 days for my pumpkin/squash to grow. That’s 448 lbs of growth in 95 days! Most growers get around 120 days to grow these behemoths but here in Santa Fe we have a much shorter growing season as most of you know plus we’ve been in drought this year and on a good year we don’t get much rain compared to say Ohio or New York or just about anywhere else!
Mad Max and me looking like a mad hatter with that hair! Last day before cutoff.
Many of you asked how to I load these giant vegetables. Here are some pictures of the guys loading the giant pumpkins into the truck. If the pumpkins get much bigger, I’ll have to get them in with a hoist.
Many thanks to Janet and Tom Hiron for loaning me their truck, Pepe, for hauling these behemoths up to the weigh-off in Colorado and to the ‘Mad Max’ guys who loaded them. It truly takes a village to get help grow and promote these giants! Tomorrow I will post pics of the weigh-off.
Four New Mexico Giant Vegetable State Records Set yesterday!
Yesterday I set 2 NEW New Mexico Records and BROKE 2 New Mexico Records that I set last year! My giant pumpkin, ‘Max’, ended up officially at 448 lbs breaking Kong’s record of 421 lbs last year. My giant marrow, ‘King Zuc II’ (zucchini) was 62 lbs which broke last year record of 43.5 lbs. My giant green squash, ‘Kryptonite’ (greenie) set a new record of 340 lbs and my long gourd, ‘Jake the Snake’, set a new record of 80″ in length. My giant pear gourd, ‘Gourdo’, weighed in at 103 lbs which was one lb more than the one at the State Fair earlier in September but there is no category for it. Sorry it took so long to post this but we had to get back from Colorado and get the guys back to unload all the giants at our studio! The next two posts will show the loading and Weigh-off but I wanted to get this out for all you following!
The crew-from left Spooner, Ed, Per, Ira, me, Javier, Daniel, and Beto-THE KONG BOYS!
The weigh-off is almost upon us. Tomorrow the pumpkin/greenie squashes will be cut at 8 am and loaded in the truck on pallets. How do I get all this weight in the bed of a truck? 8 strong men! These guys are the best and nicest guys around and I REALLY appreciate their help. I couldn’t do it without them. Here are last year’s crew with my giant pumpkin, ‘Kong’ at 421 lbs. This year’s giant pumpkin, MAD MAX is 463 lbs and the ‘Greenie’ squash, Jabba the Hut is 347 lbs.! Hope the guys have been working out! More pics tomorrow of the loading of the giants!
Today MAD MAX (according to the tape measurements) reached 463 lbs. That’s 42 lbs over last year’s record of 421 lbs! Remember it could weigh lighter than the charts, but I feel pretty good that it will now beat the old record. It has to be all the extra water it’s been getting this past week. Over 2.2 inches in the pumpkin patch! Simply wonderful. That plus it’s been getting some extra fertilizer (seaweed and fish emulsion) right now. Pump it up MAXIE! The weather has been challenging but it hasn’t gotten down to 32°F (0°C) yet in the patch . It was suppose to but I’ve truly LUCKED OUT! I have the pumpkin plant covered with row cover and of course MAX has been covered for a month now with blankets at night. Now if it can just get through tonight, I think the rest of the week is suppose to be warmer and then it’s off to the races on Saturday!
Meanwhile the greenies are getting scary! That’s scaary good! Jabba is 349 lbs and Kyrptonite is 341 lbs! They are still battling it out for who gets to go! I hope one of them will actually sit on the mini pallet I picked up!
The other giants going to the weigh-off (if there is space) is a long gourd at 79″. It doesn’t weigh much but may have to hang off the truck. We’ll put a red bandana off the end of it! LOL. There is also a giant marrow (zucchini). I can use as a spacer between the pumpkin and greenie! And a giant pear gourd-ah what’s another 100 lbs! It should fit in the corner!
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.
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…
This is my first year of growing ‘greenies’ which are basically giant green squash the shape of pumpkins. I really like this plant. It is huge, by far the taking up the most space in the pumpkin patch. The leaves come up mid thigh to me and they have basically been very easy to grow. I have three good sized greenies that are taking off right now, all well over 100 lbs so far. One will go to the NM State Fair next week and the other two will duke it out to see who will be the heaviest for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off in Colorado. They all have names now. Meet the ‘greenies’!
Here is ‘Jabba the Hut’ named because it’s belly button is tilted more on top instead of on the side like the others and it is very lumpy. I like it’s shape! It is growing the fastest and is the largest at 118 lbs last Sunday.
Here is ‘Kyrptonite’. It has that classic perfect pumpkin shape with it’s belly button in the normal position on the side. It was 111lbs last Sunday.
Last is ‘The Hulk’, who is also growing in a weird shape as seen in the second picture below. It was 100 lbs last Sunday. I probably will take it to the NM State Fair next week.
I have a giant marrow seed that I got from a grower in the Netherlands that I’m growing this year. They call zucchini squash, courgettes or marrows in Europe. Both zucchini and marrows are in the same family- Curcurbita Pepo. My giant marrow (zucchini) is getting bigger and more gnarly. It is now kept wrapped up tightly with row cover to protect it from the pesky squirrel. I’m not sure how much it weighs as I don’t know of any measurement method like we have for giant pumpkins so it is always a surprise at the State Fair or at the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off in Colorado but it sure looks BIG with that beer can on it for perspective. The US record for this type of giant vegetable is around 90 lbs! Last year, my biggest marrow weighed 43 lbs and set a NM State Record. This one is still growing so we will see!