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…
MAX hits 350 lbs today! It continues to grow although it is starting to slow down a bit-no more 11 lb daily gains. I was in the patch and added a few drip emitters and dug the well out again around it and put compost in the well to help slow evaporation.If we get more rain, it might help it gain more as all the secondary vines will suck up water too.
The good news is last year’s champ, Kong was 228 lbs on this date, Sept 1, of last year. I went back and compared pictures and stats from last year’s Sept 1 to this year. They look a lot alike (of course they do their siblings!) only MAX is more orange and bigger. Now mind you Max is 53 days old and Kong was 35 days old on Sept 1 of last year. Max got pollinated earlier than Kong. I figured MAX has extra growing days. Either way I’ll take it. MAX now needs 77 lbs to beat the State record I set last year. I wonder if anyone else is shooting for the State Record this year. Hmmm…
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!
Well I culled the last little pumpkin on the 895 Grande pumpkin plant, leaving one giant pumpkin who I’ve named ‘MAX’ to suck up all the juice.
This last little one wasn’t growing for 4 days so I culled it. I only hope nothing happens to MAX that will ruin my season. It hit 216 lb benchmark today. Hope the rest of August and all of September are WARM which will help put on the LBS! It has been putting on 13 lbs A DAY for a week now which isn’t a lot in the giant pumpkin world, but I’ll take it here at 7000 ft elevation. It is on the main vine but only 8 feet out. Giant pumpkin growers like to wait till the blossoms are 10 feet+ out from the main vine to pollinate. I thought it would be the one I would have to cull later. But noooooo, MAX decided it wants the vine all to itself robbing all the other little pumpkins of nutrients (juice) and the plant is not putting out anymore female flowers either which is good-all the energy is going to MAX now as it wants!
Just to put this in perspective on this date, August 16 of last year, KING KONG, who became the NM State Record, was 32 lbs! It got pollinated on July 29, and MAX got pollinated on July 10. I figure it has an additional 2-3 weeks to grow bigger than Kong IF the weather stays warm at night. Wish for a Indian Summer for me… GROW NAGUAS, GROW! (Chinese for grow pumpkins, grow!)
Yesterday I set up a ‘Plant Cam’, which is an outdoor waterproof digitized camera. I set it to take one picture everyday at 9am of my 3 giant pumpkins on the 895 Grande plant as they grow. That way I will be able to make a video of the growth of the pumpkin in a video after the season. Once I choose one to keep, I will cull the other two and zero the camera in on the one remaining.
Here are the baby long gourd plants that hopefully will grow into giant long gourds! I can’t imagine it. They’re so small!
Here is the giant long gourd trellis that Caleb and I built that will offer support to the long gourd plants that will grow up it. Yea right! It is 10 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. I can’t imagine growing a long gourd that tall much less even think about those teeny weeny little plants going all the way to the top of this gigantic trellis but it will be fun to try! I guess I better move the ladder down to the garden…
Here are some pictures of the 2007 world record long gourd that reached just over 127 inches that another person grew. The plant is really beautiful. In the picture above the long gourd was so tall they had to dig a hole in the ground so it would keep growing straight! If it hits the ground it will start to curl.
Here is a picture looking up through the trellis at the long gourds. This looks so lush! I wonder what I will be able to do in this desert!?
The current world record for long gourd is a whopping 135 inches tall-that’s just over 11 foo tall. Now that’s a lot of gourd! Wish me luck-I’m going to need it!
If you were crazy enough try to grow giant pumpkins this year, here is some advice from this obsessive giant pumpkin grower!
To grow a giant pumpkin, you must BABY them. They need a lot of CARE. It’s like RAISING A VERY LARGE CHILD or more like JABBA THE HUT. You don’t go out and just throw some seeds in the ground and expect to grow a record pumpkin. You wouldn’t be able to go out and become a world boxing champ without training, lots of proper food and working up for it and so it is with giant pumpkins. A person asked me last year at the GPC (Great Pumpkin Commonwealth) weigh-off in Colorado Springs, Co how do I grow them? I asked him if he planted some and he said, “Yes, but they didn’t do anything”. So I asked him if he amended the soil, had them on a fertilizer program, used organic fungicides for diseases, did any preventative insect control or hand pollinated them just for starters. He said, “No, I didn’t do any of that. I just put the seeds in the ground”. I told him that’s probably why he wasn’t successful. Then he asked me, “What do you feed these big pumpkins?” For which I responded looking at his kid, “Small children”! Then he grabbed his child and ran off! The point being you must be some kind of nut to want to grow these behemoths!
Today I fertilized the pumpkin plants, greenie and marrows with Seaweed and Fish emulsion and added Super Thrive since I took off the shade cloth and they have to adjust again. Mind you they still have a low tunnel over them and another layer of row cover directly on them but I am now weaning them off so much protection since they have gone through their first adjustment well and I see new growth. I also started them on ‘Companion’, an organic fungicide, which helps ward off fungal diseases. All these things go in a bucket of water so it’s easy to apply. They are still taking 1/2 gallon of water a day. I also put chop sticks over the stem (see photo), making an ‘x’ with them, gently pushing the vine down towards the ground. Push the sticks with the plant a little farther towards the ground every few days until the plant is lying on the ground. If you let them stay tall, they could snap off in the wind so I must train them to lay low! This pumpkin plant in the picture comes from the same one that last year grew the 2010 NM State Record. I also have it’s cousin plant (who comes from a bigger pumpkin), but this plant is already much bigger than it’s cousin. I love this seed!
Can ANY pumpkin grow super big if you feed it a lot? The answer is no. Just as there are varieties of tiny pumpkins (like Tom Thumb-2 lbs), there are varieties that grow medium size (field pumpkins-15-25 lbs), big size varieties (Big Max-100 lbs) and then there is ONE variety that grows RECORDS-STATE AND WORLD RECORDS! The current Atlantic Giant Pumpkin World Record is 1810 lbs, grown by Chris Stevens of Wisconsin. The picture above is of Christy Harp of Ohio who held the record in 2009. This picture just shows you how big they are! They say someone will hit the 2000 lb mark within a couple of years but it won’t be me. I don’t live in an area that would be conducive to that-too short of growing season here in Santa Fe. It was hard enough growing a giant pumpkin 421 lbs last year here. Of course I’m trying to break my own record again this year!
Now that we are (finally) getting into giant pumpkin season, I will share my techniques for growing them throughout the season. Stayed tuned…
So someone asked me, ‘Hey Jannine, how come we haven’t heard about your giant vegetables yet?” Well, I’ve sort of been preoccupied with getting the tomatoes in the ground lately but all the giant vegetables are still in the house all cozy under my gro lights just waiting to go out. We still have some cold nights ahead in the next few nights so I want to wait a little more. Also all my peppers and eggplants are still inside as well as they HATE being cold more than tomatoes do. One cold night can stunt a pepper plant all season so I suggest you protect them with something the next few nights if yours are already out.
But back to the giants-I have 2 giant pumpkins, one giant ‘greenie’ squash, 2 giant marrows (think supersized zucchini), 1 giant pear gourd, 2 long gourds and 6 giant tomatoes. I’m shooting for next week to get them out. Don’t worry, I’ll be talking alot about giant vegetable how-to’s once they get going. Here is what I still have to do for the GIANTS:
I still have to do a final mixing of my soil and add some amendments in the giant vegetable patch I have.
I still have to get out my low tunnels for the giant pumpkins and greenie to go under to protect them from our intense sun and cold nights.
I still have to build a super tall arbor for the long gourds which can get as tall as 109+ inches. But I can still get them in the ground and build the arbor around them. If you build it, they will come!
I still have to create the drip system for a new giant tomato bed.
I still have to do a drip system for the GIANT VEGETABLE PATCH
I don’t know where the giant pear gourd is going yet! I think Bri’s GIANT VEGETABLE PATCH (named after my beautiful horse Bri who is no longer with us) is going to be really full this season!
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.
-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.
Still time to order seeds if you haven’t already. I need to order my seeds Monday, now that I’m home from the show so I get them in time to plant in March. Probably most of you have already order your seeds. I only need to order a few as I still have many seeds that I will regrow this year. It feels late but it is what it is. Last year I started the seeds the first week of March. Because it was such a cold spring, I couldn’t get them out till late May and even June last year They got too tall in the house, but what was I to do? Stick them out in 27°F weather? I’m still going to plant seeds from March 1 -15, inside, under the lights and hope with this La Nina we have that all of us will be able to sneak out some of our warm season crops early—think April 15th! It’s always a crap shoot when trying to decide when to plant seeds but I’m going early! Bring out the gro lights! (I hear, “oh no” in the background!) I do have ‘plant envy’ for those of you have greenhouses or hoophouses!
FINAL 2011 SEED LISTS (updated)
I’ve researched and updated the seed list I posted earlier about a month ago and thought some of you might like to know where I buy either the seeds or in some cases, the plants ready to transplant here in Santa Fe. So first I created a legend with abbreviations for each seed/nursery and then put them at the end of each seed listed. Hope this makes it easier for you so you don’t have to figure it out. I also show which tomatoes Amy Goldman’s ‘The Heirloom Tomato’ book recommends which I use as my ‘tomato bible’! I’ve put this in my page section called ‘Seed Lists’ at the top of the blog for later reference.
Here is the legend:
AFN-Agua Fria Nursery (plants)-1409 Agua Fria Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-983-4831
SFGH–Santa Fe Greenhouse (plants)-2904 Rufina Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-473-2700
BH– Baker Heirloom (seeds)
SSE– Seed Saver Exchange (seeds)
JSKG–John Scheepers Kitchen Garden
KS–Kitazawa Seed (seeds)
WCS–West Coast Seeds (seeds)
CG–Cooks Garden (seeds)
TF–Tomato Fest (seeds)
TG–Tomato Growers (seeds)
TT–Totally Tomatoes (seeds)
*AG/San Marzano-red plum/80 days/AFN (plants) or BH, SSE, (seeds)
Striped German-bicolor-SFGH (plants)
*AG/Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH (seeds)
*AG/Ananas Noir-recommended by friend-BH, SSE (seeds)
BLACK OR PURPLE
Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN (plants)
Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN (plants)
*AG/Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TF(seeds)
*AG/Costoluto Genovese-red/78 days-TG(seeds)
*AG/Goldsman Italian American-red-BH (seeds)
*AG/Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN (plants)
*AG/Green Grape-green/AFN (plants) or SSE (seeds)
HYBRIDS-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon Boy–AFN (plants)
Park’s Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFN (plants)
Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-62 days-TT (seeds)
* AG-recommended by Amy Goldsman’s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato’
2011 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS–Rattlesnake bean snap OG (remarkably flavored pole bean)-SSE (seeds)
PEPPER–Shishito (Japanese non hot pepper)-AFN (plants) or KS(seeds)
SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI–Costata Romanesco (best tasting zuke around)-BH (seeds)
WINTER SQUASH- Galeux d’ Eyesines and Red Warty Thing (that’s what it’s called!)-BH (seeds)
EGGPLANT-Fairy Tale (best sweet, no bitter taste and soft skin eggplant I’ve tasted)-AFN (plants) or TS (seeds)
CUCUMBERS–Parisian Pickling, De Bourbonne, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kheera, Armenian and Parade– I grow cukes for either taste or which variety is best for different types of pickles-all BH (seeds) except Parade-SSE (seeds)
CORN-not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)
LETTUCES–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-CG (seeds)
CARROTS-Purple Haze CG (seeds) and Scarlet Nantes-SSE (seeds)
BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-BH (seeds)
CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet-SSE (seeds) and Argentata Swiss Chard-JSKG (seeds)
PEAS-Dwarf Sugar Gray-SSE, Oregon Spring II-BH (seeds)
2011 GIANT PUMPKINS & GIANT VEGGIE LIST
2010 GIANT PUMPKINS–all came from private growers
895 Grande 08 (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)
421 Cabossel (895 Grande x self )
1046 Grande 10 (901 Hunt x 1385 Jutras)
GIANT GREEN SQUASH–all came from private grower
903 Noel 07 (848 McKenzie x self)
GIANT MARROW (like giant Zucchini)-all came from private growers
206.5 Wursten 09 or 75.4 Wursten 09
43 Cabossel 10
7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open)-private grower
5.416 N, Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open)-private grower
Big Zac/TT (seeds)
GIANT PEAR GOURD–private grower
89 Scherber 10
LONG GOURD–private grower
96″ Scherber 10
Titan-SSE, BH (seeds)
2011 EDIBLE FLOWER LIST
Following is the list of edible flowers that will be planted or are already on the property:
Calendula-Orange King-BH (seeds)
Lavender (in existing different area)
Marigold-Lemon Gem-TS (seeds) this is the only edible marigold
Nasturtiums-Tip Top -CG (seeds)-prettiest nasturiums
Pansies-get them anywhere
Violas-get them anywhere
Roses (in different existing area)
Black Oil Seed sunflower (for the birds!)-WCS (seeds)
2011 HERBS-Following is a list of herbs that will be planted or exist on the property
Basil-new SHGH (plants)
Lime Basil-new-SFGH (plants)
Thai Basil-new-SFGH (plants)
Dill-usually self seeds
Here are some of my favorite gardening book to read and reread for reference throughout the year for regular and giant vegetables. Just click on each book to see it larger. All of these can be found at amazon.com.