Giant Pumpkins

 

Closeup of pumpkin in back of car

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.

 

Mad Max goes to the Weigh-Off in Colorado Springs

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!

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How We Loaded the Giant Vegetables in a Truck

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.

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4 New Mexico Giant Vegetable State Records Set in 2011!!!!

Giants Unloaded at Studio after 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!

Weigh-Off time is upon us!

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!

Giant Pumpkin, MAD MAX reaches 463 lbs today-Sunday Oct. 9

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!

Greenies battle it out for who will go to the weigh-off!

Greenie-'JABBA the HUT'

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.

NM State Fair Results for my Giant Veggies!

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…

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…

Giant Marrow (zucchini) continues to grow in garden..

Giant marrow continues to grow in garden

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!

UPDATE-The other giant vegetables in the garden.

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!

More on squash bugs..

Squash bugs are around my squash and pumpkins right now. I go out AT LEAST ONE TIME A WEEK and go hunting for adults, nymphs and eggs. I know the ADULTS LIKE TO HIDE DOWN AT THE BASE OF THE PLANT or underneath the leaves. I take the hose and spray the whole plant and at particularly at the base which is covered in straw. The adults come running up the stems of the leaves to escape the water. Then I pick them off with my hand. I hate handling bugs barehanded so I use gardening gloves. I either squish them on the ground or put them in a bucket of soapy water where the adults drown.  No mercy.

I then look at EACH LEAF of the plant to see if there are any EGGS ON THE UNDERNEATH SIDE OF THE LEAVES, usually in the “v” where the veins form. If I find them, I either tear off the whole leaf (if I have a lot of leaves) or I tear out just the section that has the eggs and put them is a bucket of soapy water where they will smother. THE EGGS WILL BE DARK LIKE ROOTBEER WHEN THEY ARE READY TO HATCH, so get them EARLY.

I also look for the GRAY NYMPHS WHICH ARE USUALLY UNDERNEATH THE LEAVES OR ON THE STEMS. If I find a few I squish them. If I find a lot, I take the whole leaf off because they are fast and I can get them all. Then I put them in the soapy water.

Squash bugs go from EGGS TO NYMPHS IN 7-10 DAYS, so we should look for eggs about every 7 days to catch them from turning into nymphs. I do this on the weekend when I have more time. The squash bug PRODUCES ONE NEW GENERATION EACH YEAR but of course if each squash bug lays 15 eggs on each leaf they chose to deposit their eggs on, then all those newly hatched nymphs will lay more-but not this year. The nymphs will grow into adults this year but will not lay eggs. They will overwinter and lay their eggs next year.

So my thinking is if you get the adults now and the eggs now, then next year you should have way less squash bugs (I’m assuming we might miss a few) and of course if we get them all, in theory we should have none next year.

I keep my plants covered early in the season with row cover until they flower but now that they are flowering, I must uncover them so the bees can pollinate them. The key is to be REALLY DILIGENT ABOUT FINDING THEM BEFORE THE EGGS HATCH. After they hatch you can easily be overcome by the nymphs. Most people don’t keep up on the inspections and then the problem magnifies tenfold-so keep up on them. The hunt is on!

Some people spray Sevin on the plants. I prefer to go organically, so if I get a major problem, I would use Neem which is somewhat helpful but picking them off is the best way to control them.

All pictures courtesy of University of Minnesota. For more info on squash bugs, go to their site:  http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1208.html

Giant Pumpkin patch growing

Here are some pictures of the giant pumpkin patch taken on July 4th. There are also 1 greenie squash and 2 giant marrows in the patch so I think it’s gonna get crowded in there. I hope I have a sea of green by August!

Here is the overall view of the pumpkin patch from the road.

I have the low tunnels propped up so I can work on the giant squashes. Kind of like opening a car hood! I took off the row covers for pictures.

The giant pumpkin plants are doing well-they are just coming out of their low tunnels. Here is the 895 Grande plant with the low tunnel off.

Some of those big leaves are 18″ across. I just love this pumpkin plant. It’s sister seed took the NM State record last year. The leaves are much bigger than the 1048 Grande.

Here is the 1048 Grande. It’s leaves are smaller but they say leaf size has nothing to do with pumpkin size. Is that like the shoe size argument?!

I saw my first female flowers on the 895 Grande pumpkin plant on the end of the main vine. Isn’t it beautiful! The only issue is it is only 7 feet out from the stump. I should wait to pollinate until it reaches at least 10 feet out but may not. We do that to allow the plant to develop more leaves behind the future pumpkin-more leaves-more food. Lot’s of times we pollinate many pumpkins and then cull the smaller ones so I think I will do that.  Notice the oval shape of the possible baby pumpkin.

The only problem is the male flowers that are there are also very small and they usually bloom before the girls even show up. The boys are always the first to arrive at the pumpkin blossom party and usually the girls show up later. It’s ok because my first pollinated pumpkin flower last year was July 27 so perhaps I will be ahead of that date which is important because it will give me more days to put on more pumpkin weight.

Here is the greenie-The greenie looks just like any giant pumpkin plant but the fruit will be green. It is doing well. I saw a really small female flower with the potential baby green fruit. The seed came from 2007 so I was surprised it even germinated The plant looks fantastic. Just goes to show that you can’t always listen to the folks that say get rid of your seeds after 2 years old.

Here is the 78 marrow-kinda bushy. Very different than the other marrow in the patch.

This is the other giant marrow that came from my last year’s plant. I’m very suspicious of this one as it doesn’t look quite like the other marrow above which I know is pure in strain. Mine was pollinated by the bees and so it could of crossed with one of the winter squashes last year. It will be interesting to see what the fruits look like on this one later on!

I also saw one squash bug (which ended up under my shoe) and some eggs on the underside of 3 leaves. I just took off all those leaves that had the eggs on them and put it in a bucket of soapy water-goodbye eggs. I will plant some onion sets in their wells to help deter them and I will probably have to keep the pumpkin plants covered with row cover. I will be on the lookout from here on out.

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…

Don’t Plant Tomatoes Outside Yet-Cold Weather Forecasted AGAIN

Weather forecast April 27-May 1

Here we go-Cold weather AT NIGHT again. Today the weather is cold high 56°F and low 25°F, already snowing a little bit. It’s ok , we desperately need the moisture. Unfortunately we are also going to get high winds-up to 70 mph! Above is the forecast for the next 5 days.

All 60 tomatoes and giant pumpkins, giant squash and marrows are inside and waiting to go out but I’m hanging tight and will wait till the nights are a little warmer and above freezing. I will still plant them in wall of waters for extra protection when they go out but why throw them out when I know what’s coming…I try to sneak them out early every year but I just have to wait and see. Our first frost freeze date is May 15th and it looks like we might go to then..