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…
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!
Here’s the update on the other GIANT VEGETABLES I’M GROWING THIS YEAR.
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.
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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…