Starting Giant Pumpkins, ‘Giant Greenie’ and Giant Marrow

I planted all the seeds for my ‘All Star Lineup’ of giant pumpkins, giant marrows and also new this year is a giant ‘greenie’ squash (think green pumpkin) and 2 long gourd on last Thursday, April 7.

Here is a picture of a Giant Green Squash-'Greenie'-not mine!

-For the pumpkin and greenie (giant green squash) seeds I filed the edges just a little so the seed can absorb water more readily to help it germinate. Then I planted them in a 4 inch peat pot about 2 inches deep pointed side down. For the Giant Marrow I just planted the seed point side down.

-I put all of them on the plant heating map to keep the soil warm for germination. They are in the light box and get watered every day. Hopefully they will all germinate.


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.

Veggies I will and won’t grow this year and why in 2011

Here is my veggie list from last year. I thought it important to go through it and tell you what I will and won’t grow again and why before I forget. Look at my SEED LIST PAGE next week (as it could always change) to see exactly what I am growing in 2011

San Marzano-red plum tomato-YES-I will try again even though ALL 4 died. I hear too many good things about this tomato

Striped German-bicolor tomato-YES-I WILL grow it again for my third straight year-One of my favorites even though it takes a little longer to develop

Black CherryYES– I will grow this for my third straight year-another favorite

Paul Robeson-black tomato-YES-A Farmers Market favorite although I prefer others.

Cherokee Purple-purple tomato-NO-I missed this one last year but it is wonderful. As good as Brandywine.

Cherokee ChocolateYES-Just as good as Cherokee purple but a little brownish color. I will choose between one of the Cherokees due to space.

Prudens Purple-purple tomato-NO-not as good as the Cherokees nor as prolific but planted it because it was suppose to ripen sooner-not true for me last year.

Black Krim-black tomato-NO I didn’t do this one last year but had it in the lineup because it is only 69 days to ripen. Never had good luck in previous years.

Pantano Romanesco-red classic tomato-YES-wonderful tomato from Italy

Great WhiteNO– novelty-lost both plants

Costoluto Genovese-red tomato-YES fantastic looking-fluted and great taste

Goldsman Italian American-large red plum-YES even though I lost 3 out of 4, and it took forever to ripen, it makes the BEST tasting tomato sauce I’ve ever made

Aunt Ruby’s German GreenNO-Novelty-lost 2 plants

Gold Medal-bicolor tomato-MAYBE-took longer to ripen than Striped German but great taste

TOMATOES-HYBRID-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon BoyMAYBE-didn’t get any in last year but it is a sweet terrific tomato

Park’s Beefy Boy-red tomato-70 days-YES-only 70 days and great taste

Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-NO-kinda like a lot of yellow cherry tomatoes but super sweet.Want to try something different.

Original Goliath-red tomato-NO– nice size, early ripener but can’t remember the flavor

Big Zac-red/80 days-YES-takes the longest to ripen but taste is great and chance to grow a huge one.

BEANS-Rattlesnake-YES-great tasting pole bean over my arbor and Tavera-NO average tasting bush bean

PEPPER-Shishito-YES-I love these-not hot but full of flavor

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco –YES wonderful taste and Lungo Bianco-NO-it was good and more prolific than Romanesco but not as flavorful. Sticking to one kind this year.

SUMMER SQUASH-SCALLOPED-Yellow Custard and Bennings Green Tint-NO on both. I’m only growing Costata Romanesco

WINTER SQUASH-Marina di ChioggiaNO-powdery mildew problem and not many squashes and Galeux d’EyesinesYES-prolific-great taste-3rd yr.

EGGPLANT-Little Fairy-YES-prolific tender skin and great taste, third year in a row. Thai Yellow EggNO-took all season to develop and then froze at first frost. What a disappointment.

CUCUMBERS-Parisian, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kera, and ParadeYES TO ALL-Third straight season

CORN-not sure if I’m growing. Might just pick it up at Farmers Market

LETTUCES-from COOK’S GARDEN-Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-YES

SPINACH-from COOK’S GARDEN-Indian Summer and Double Choice-NO-will look for bigger leaf variety.Too puny.

CARROTS-from COOK’S GARDEN-Kaleidoscope (mix of red, purple, orange and yellow)-NO want only orange and purple ones this year.

BROCCOLI-Brocolli Romanesco-NOtakes too long to develop.


BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-YES

CHARD-5 Color SilverbeetYES TO ANY CHARD


895 Grande (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)-YES-grew the 2010 NM State Record Pumpkin-421 lbs + 3 other new ones

GIANT MARROW (like a giant Zucchini)
206.5 Wursten 09YESdidn’t grow last year but will this year

75.4 Wursten 09YESgrew the 2010 NM State Record-43 lbs

7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open) YESgrew a 2 lb 11 oz tomato in 2010

5.416 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x openYES

Big Zac (from Totally Tomato)-YES


Saving Seeds-still time to collect them

giant marrow opened up exposing seeds

I’ve been collecting some of the seeds that I want to replant for next year-rattlesnake beans, giant marrow, Japonica corn, giant pumpkin, scarlet runner beans, sunflower seeds, tomato seed from my 2.11oz tomato, cosmos, and zinnas. Ones I won’t take are cucumbers, most tomatoes, zucchini, winter squash, and peppers as I grew several of the same varieties and they could of crossed and I might loose the original strain.

giant marrow seeds drying

When saving big seeds like squashes or pumpkins, be sure to thoroughly DRY the seeds before putting them in a zip-loc baggie or jar. Any hint of moisture will ruin them. I just put the cleaned, wet seeds on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet in a dry sunny place until dry. That way they will release from the wax paper after they are dry. I always like collecting seeds every year. It’s fun when you plant them the following year. It’s also fun when you don’t have to buy a packet of seeds for $2.49 with 20 seeds in them when you can collect the same seed and get 100’s more.  I have a friend (Fran) who walks and collects the wild flower seeds and broadcasts them on her property and the her natural garden this year looked awesome. (Did I tell you that Fran?!) Awesome!


Saturday, Oct 1, 2010/GPC Old Colorado City Weigh-Off, Colorado Springs, Colorado-

Kong broke the New Mexico State Giant Pumpkin Record today coming in at 421 lbs beating the old record of 404 lbs! The record comes home to Santa Fe which is quite a feat considering our high altitude and short growing season. Kong also got a ribbon for third place in the weigh-off for 3rd biggest pumpkin out of about 25 contestants and $100 (yea-paid for my gas to get up there!).  The first place was a 1109 lb monster pumpkin grown by a Colorado grower named Marc Sawtelle and second place was over 800 lbs grown by another Colorado grower named Doug Minix. These guys are my heros-they are really nice and share information about growing these monsters. My pumpkin was little by comparison but still bigger than all the rest of them. My giant marrow, ‘Big Zuc’, also got a ribbon for Best Squash and also set a new New Mexico record. What a way to finish the gardening year. Couldn’t be better!!

So the weigh-off day went as follows:

Got up at 4:30 am and left by 6am to get up to Colorado Springs by 10:30am. We unloaded Kong at 10:30 and waited till weigh-off time at noon. We met the mayor of Colorado Springs who told us the sorid story of the city when it was a mining town and one side of the main street (that we were on) was for the brothels and other side was the respectable side.  He told us the story of how the men would drop off their wives at the opera on the respectable side, go into some tunnels to cross the street over to the brothels and come back again to pick up their wives after the opera! Hmm! He looked like the guy in Monopoly (I think the banker?) I also met Buffalo Bill Cody (I think reincarnated)! Lots of people and families came.

At noon when they went to turn the digital scale on they couldn’t get it to work! Arg! I was freaking out inside as I really wanted Kong weighed and didn’t want to go all the way home without doing that. Talk about how anticlimactic that would of been! Anyways they worked on it for about 40 minutes while I’m dying inside and finally they got it fixed. Phew! Talk about a freak out! Where were the ‘tums’?

Then they started weighing them from smallest to largest. The next thing that made me worried was the entry right before me was a beautiful orange color and looked bigger to me, but only weighed in at 375 lbs. Sheez! Did I measure wrong? Marc and Doug(the two biggest growers there) told me later that color (as in bright orange) always weighs lighter than the salmon color pumpkins. Then the big moment..and Kong weighed in at 421 lbs. Elodie and I were screaming and yelling as they announced I broke the NM State Record! Such a thrill! Then they put my giant marrow, ‘Big Zuc’ (think zuccini) on the scale and it weighed 43 lbs. Biggest fricking zucchini I ever grew! Also a NM State Record! Icing on the cake! So I got ribbons for third place for Kong and Best Squash for ‘Big Zuc’ and of course the sweetest was breaking the NM State pumpkin record. What a way to end the giant pumpkin season! Here is a slide show of the weigh-off.

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NM State Fair Results for giant pumpkin/marrows

I went to the 2010 New Mexico State Fair yesterday and won first place for my littlest giant pumpkin and first and second place for my marrows (zucchinis). It was fun seeing all the different veggies on display and which ones won. Next stop-Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) Weigh-Off in Colorado Springs, CO with my biggest pumpkin and marrow on October 2.

1st place-giant pumpkin 2010

1st and 2nd place-zucchini 2010

Giant Marrows gone to State Fair

I had my friend Lava, enter 3 zucchinis in the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque last Tuesday for me while I’ve been gone in NYC. One (the smallest) was a traditional zucchini, and 2 were giant varieties called marrows. A marrow is in the zucchini family-Curcurbita Pepo. It is grown more in Europe than in the states. It is eaten when small but the giant varieties have the capacity to get big-really big-much bigger than our ordinary variety of zucchini! I weighed my two smaller marrows that I entered into the fair on my bathroom scale and one was about 25 lbs and the other was around 35 lbs. I wonder if anyone in NM is growing a giant variety of marrow. I didn’t even weigh my traditional zucchini because it was so small compared to the giant varieties. I am going down to the fair today to see if I got any ribbons..

Getting ready to measure the biggest marrow

I still left the biggest marrow in the patch to see how big it will grow before the Colorado weigh-offs. It measured almost 30″ long and 14″ wide about a week ago. I think it weighs about 45 lbs right now. Here is a pic of me getting ready to weigh it.

measuring length-almost 30" (see I wasn't lying!)

I love the marrows-one of the most exciting plants I grew this year. I’ll have to harvest some seeds, although they were probably cross-pollinated by the bees with my winter squash. I’m still going to keep some seeds..

I also entered in ‘Harpie’, one of my two giant pumpkins. Lava said it officially weighed 99 lbs at the fair. I don’t think it will place but I’m gonna try!

biggest marrow that went to the fair-35 lbs!

See the difference between a marrow and a regular zucchini?!

measuring width-almost 14"

Master Gardeners tour-Giant Vegetable Garden

I’ve been getting ready for my first Giant Veggie Garden Tour for the Santa Fe Master Gardeners group next Sunday from 9am-12 noon. I have 3 giant marrows, one being around 30+ lbs, 2 giant pumpkins, many giant sunflowers, and a couple of giant tomatoes (still green). I’m cleaning up, trimming and generally sprucing up the garden. By the time they come next Sunday I should be ready. Seems like there is always something to do in a garden no matter the size. Fall is definitely in the air with the nights cooling off into the high 40-50s. Daytime temperatures are in the 80s. Perfect weather to be in the garden…

Check out my giant marrow!

giant marrow on 08-25-10

Ooo wee! Check out this giant marrow (which is actually a giant zucchini)! I don’t know how one measures for weight but I have several really big ones. One will go to the State Fair and the other up to the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers weigh off in Colorado if I can get it to last that long. It has been really fun growing it this year and watching the marrows grow. The Plant does fine in the heat and ultraviolet rays (we are 7000 ft high here in Santa Fe). No wilting at all. Grows like crazy. The only thing I will change next year is that it will go in the giant pumpkin patch where it will have more room to grow. It can duke it our with the giant pumpkins! Right now it is growing over everything and I already hacked it back twice!  This one came from a seed from Brad Wuersten in the Netherlands who has the European World Record for it over there and was kind enough to give me a seed from one of his giant marrows.

How to control squash bugs

Squash bug adult-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Well it’s that time of year-Squash bugs Ughh! You can control squash bugs in your organic garden. Here are some ORGANIC things you can do to deter squash bugs:

-Plant a crop late in the season if possible. Many areas of the country only have one generation of squash bugs and if you plant later you may miss them. If you live in the south where they have 2 generations, read on..

squash bug nymphs-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Cover your plants with row cover to keep them off. This works beautifully but you may have to piece some row covers together to cover some of the larger plants. I use clothes pins to clip them together.

-Use Neem. It is an organic pesticide (and an added benefit is a fungicide). It must be sprayed very early before the bees come out or at dusk when they aren’t around as it won’t hurt them if it is not a direct hit as they only visit the flowers and it is a contact spray. I think it mostly helps deter the squash bug.

squash bug eggs

-Inspection, hand picking and kill the little buggars. (now you know how strongly I feel about them) By far the most labor intensive but very effective. I hate to handle squash bugs (or any bug-I’m squeamish) so I use gloves, a bucket of soapy water (it drowns them) and inspect each leaf underneath to look for nymphs, eggs, or adults. The adults I throw in the soapy water and if a leaf is really loaded with nymphs, I cut it off and throw it in the soapy water otherwise I just squish them. For the eggs  (they are a cluster of rust colored eggs attached to the underneath side of the leaves) I usually just tear off  or cut out that portion of the leaf (it won’t hurt it) and throw them into the soapy water. The key to keeping it under control, is to catch them before they multiply too much. I looked up the life cycle online of the squash but and it goes from egg to nymph in 7-10 days so if you get out there every 7 days you will catch them before they get out of control and multiply. Most people wait too late. Get out there and look at your plants!

-Companion planting. I think it was in ‘Organic Gardening Magazine that I read under ‘letter to the editors’, that a lady wrote in to say that you could deter squash bugs on pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and marrows with diluted/strained onion juice. Evidently just grind one or two up, put it in gallon of water and strain the onions out so your sprayer doesn’t clog. Well she went on to write that doing that was too much work and she plants onions bulbs with her squash every year and hasn’t seen a squash bug since. Well I did the same for my summer squashes, but not for my winter squashes. There have been no squash bugs on the summer squash but I found one on the marrow which means there will be more. I told one of friends that owns a garden nursery about the onions and he said it was too late to plant onions but he was going to throw some chopped onions out in his patch. I’m doing the same today for the marrow and winter squash and will let you know what happens! It can’t hurt and maybe it’ll work!

Giant Marrows

giant marrow patch

If you told me this spring when I planted one little giant marrow seed that it would become the gorilla of the garden going anywhere it wants, I wouldn’t have believe you. It has a space about 25 feet wide by 30 feet and is moving into other veggies’ territories! I’m not sure how big the actual marrows are yet but will dance around the vines this weekend and get in there to see them. Marrows are popular in Europe equating to our zucchini but can grow much larger. This one seed came from a giant marrow that weighed over 75 lbs. The grower is from the Netherlands and was kind enough to give me a seed. It is a Curcurbita Pepo. I hope to enter one into the State Fair in Sept. If I find a good size one I will photograph it this weekend. Meanwhile I do have a regular zucchini growing for the State Fair as well. Zucchini was the only vegetable I put into the fair that didn’t place. Just something to do for a giant gardener!

organic fungicides to use for Powdery Mildew

We’ve been getting so much rain lately that I am worried about Powdery Mildew (PM) and other fungal and bacterial diseases caused by too much rain. It is a blessed curse. The garden takes off  and really grows from all the rain but the conditions are right for PM so I am trying to take precautions by doing several things to be as preventative as possible.

First I’m cleaning out all dead or yellow leaves that are usually underneath the canopy of the squashes and beans and tomatoes. I use clippers to cut out the dead stems  or yellow leaves (like on the tomatoes) and I sterilize them between each plant so not to spread any diseases that the plant may have that I don’t know about yet. The idea is to clean up under the canopy of  leaves and provide more air space. I have a small container that I fill with 4 cups of water and I put in about 1/4 cup bleach and use this as a disinfectant for my clippers and gloves. I just dip my clippers and hand with my glove into the container and then move onto the next plant. You can use isopropyl alcohol instead but you could go through a lot of alcohol and the bleach works just as well. The next thing I do is spray weekly with Neem and baking soda or instead use copper fungicide which is stronger but still organic. I think the Neem and baking soda are more preventative and if you get some fungal diseases then the copper can kill it. Copper is organic but one still needs to follow the directions but you can spray it right up to the day of harvest. All of these need to be sprayed on both the top and underneath the leaves and have to be resprayed if it rains. The third thing I’m doing this year is using a biofungicide that is used as a drench. This is new to me but it is just certain soil organisms that help the plant ward off many fungal and bacterial diseases. I’m using it on my giant pumpkins and will let you know how they do. Another biofungicide is Mycostop which is also suppose to do the same thing. There may be others out there, just google biofungicides.

Giant Pumpkins ready for garden!

Here are the pumpkins and one giant marrow (kinda like a giant zucchini-they grow them in Europe). I’m planting them by tues or wed. I’m hardening them off with a little sun gradually the next few days) now that the nights have warmed up into the mid-40’s.  I gave them a drink of Superthrive and seaweed fertilizer to help them with stress through the transition after I brought them in today. Now they are back in the house. Getting a late start this year-want to see if it makes any difference as it was so cold in May (many 27 degree nights, 50’s in day) and I thought they would just sit in the cold soil there anyways. Hope they catch up!

5 giant pumpkins and one giant marrow

From left- front row: 352 Cabossel 09, 949.5 N.Harp 09, 817.9 Schieder 09,  form left-Back row: 1166 Mohr 09, 895 Grande 08, 73.6 Wursten 09 (giant marrow)