New Mexico State Fair entries

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…

Growing gourds- Giant Long gourd plants growing wild

Long gourds grow over the top

Fuzzy little long gourd baby-4 inches long

The long gourd plants are really taking off. They are now over the top of the gourd trellis or tower as I like to call it and filling in. They seem to like the heat, humidity and extra moisture we’ve been getting lately-in fact all the gourds have gone bonkers.  Caleb is coming over today and after we check the bees, we are going to reinforce the top of the tower they are growing on as I hear they get extremely heavy as they get longer. They already have some babies growing but not on top where I want them. If they get big enough this month I will put those smaller ones in the State Fair at the end of the month.

I read and heard from a fellow gardener at the SF Farmers Market that gourds are pollinated by night pollinators like night moths. I’ve never seen a honeybee interested in them. We must have some night pollinators here as I have some baby fruit growing on them.

Mystery gourd (I don't know what type it is)

This little pear gourd came from an 89 lb giant pear gourd

I’m growing three types of gourds this year-giant long gourd, giant pear gourd and a mystery gourd (not sure what type it is but looks like a small pear). All the gourd seeds were extremely hard (at least for me) to germinate-they took forever to come up and some I had to plant twice, but once they came up and I put them in the garden, they have been easy keepers and give a certain lushness to the garden without lots of water. They are part of the Curcubita genus which includes, pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. I bet you didn’t know pumpkins and squash are part of the gourd family did you?

So far none of the gourds seem to attract bugs-like the squash bug, perhaps because of their scent when you handle the leaves. They are kinda stinky but not too bad. But like I said, they are beautiful to look at and the leaves and small furry fruits are fantastic. Both are really soft to the touch, like suede, unlike pumpkins or squash whose leaves are rough. They also have beautiful delicate flowers. I’m really enjoying them so far.

Mystery gourd flowers

Planting, planting, planting…

Well, if you are wondering why I haven’t been posting, it is because I’ve been out PLANTING, trying to get the last of the garden in. So far, I have 70 tomato plants, ‘Rattlesnake’ pole beans around my trellis, 4 ‘Pepperocini’ pepper plants, 16 eggplants, 2 rhubarbs and put additional wall of waters around all of the tomatoes and created some new drip sections for all these.

Tomorrow (Sunday) goes in 12 shishito pepper plants, bush bean seeds, pole bean seeds, 4 different types of cucumbers seeds, ornamental japonica corn, flowers and a new drip system manifold (I take a deep breath now) I hope to get this done (early-way early!) before the BIG WINDS come in AGAIN and make life MISERABLE….

Monday goes in 2 giant pumpkins, 1 giant greenie squash, 2 giant marrows and a giant pear gourd go in. The long gourds will have to wait till I make them a trellis later this week or next.

Phew! It is always such a big push in spring to get things in the garden and fall come harvest time. The rest of the time I feel like I’m just cruising in the garden! All this on 4000 sq feet of garden which is only 1/10 of an acre…

Apprenticing

The other day when Caleb, the beekeeper, brought his bees over, I mentioned that when I applied to the Santa Fe Farmers Market, it asked on the application if I want an apprentice and I checked off yes. So Caleb asked if he could be an apprentice and I said yes. We will have flex hours as we work for ourselves. Today he came over from 8:30-12:30. I really enjoyed working with Caleb.

First we took some soil samples from the giant pumpkin patch that I’m sending off to a lab in California to see what the soil might need. I’ll have to fill out the paperwork tomorrow and send it off. It looks pretty good but I’m anxious to see what the test says. Then I can figure out what amendments it will need.

Then we planted the giant pumpkin seeds, giant marrow seeds, some tomato seeds, transplanted some new tomato seedlings, soaked the long gourd seeds and made some tomato cages! Got a lot done in 4 hours.

New GIANT VEGETABLES To Grow in 2011

My GIANT (competition) VEGGIES for 2011

I’ve expanded my giant varieties this year, adding to my existing list from last year. It’s a obsession inside an obsession! It’s just that it is so much fun to see how BIG some of these varieties can grow. Last year, Kong, my giant pumpkin grew at it’s peak, 18 lbs a day. That’s incredible and one can actually see the difference from morning to evening in growth. This year I also plan to get one of those time lapse cameras that I will set up in the pumpkin patch to see them growing! The big boys who grow giant pumpkins tell me theirs put on 30-40 lbs a day. Imagine! I’m going to plant the same 895 Grande giant pumpkin seed that gave me the New Mexico State Record in 2010, its offspring (mine)-421 Cabossel, and one more-1046 Grande. I like Grande as a grower and his seed did so well here for me in Santa Fe. I think it’s because he’s a grower out of Colorado and we have similar growing conditions and soil.

New varieties for 2011 include giant green squash (looks like green pumpkin), giant green pear gourd (this one was from an 89 lb gourd that looks like a giant pear) and long gourd (this one came from a 96 inch long skinny gourd-I’m going to have to build a tall trellis)!

Also this year I’m going to get serious about growing the giant marrow (last year I sort of ignored it till it started getting big and it was one of the most fun things to see grow) and of course I’ll be trying to break into the 3-4 lb tomato range and I always love my Titan sunflowers (I call them the guardian angels of the garden) with their 20-24 inch heads. It’s going to be an ambitious year and I can’t wait!! Last year was a tough year with so many personal losses but this year feels different! I can’t wait!

2011 GIANT PUMPKINS
895 Grande 08 (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)
421 Cabossel (895 Grande x self )
1046 Grande 10 (901 Hunt x 1385 Jutras)

2011 GIANT GREEN SQUASH
903 Noel 07 (848 McKenzie x self)

GIANT MARROW (like giant Zucchini)
206.5 Wursten 09 or 75.4 Wursten 09
43 Cabossel 10

GIANT TOMATOES
7.18 N. Harp 09n (5.58 Timm x open)
5.416 N, Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open)
Big Zac (fr Totally Tomato)

GIANT PEAR GOURD
89 Scherber 10

LONG GOURD
96″ Scherber 10

GIANT SUNFLOWERS
Titan