Giant pumpkins in 2016?

giant pumpkin

One of my giant pumpkins in 2011. Wasn’t she beautiful?

I am trying to grow giant pumpkins again this year and haven’t talked much about them as I have not had good luck growing them the last 3 years. I broke the NM State Record for giant pumpkin in 2010 and broke my record in 2011 and then my record was broken in 2012 by someone else. Since then, nobody has set any records here for New Mexico as far as I know. It is not as easy as I first thought. I must have had beginner’s luck.

This was back in 2008-my first year of growing giant pumpkins

If you can get one to take and keep growing, nothing is more beautiful in the garden than seeing these huge orange globes in a sea of green leaves!

This year, I bought some seeds from the world record holder 0ver 2300 lb and both of them never germinated. Arrgh! So now I’m down to 2 pumpkin plants that came from a 2009 lb pumpkin and 1 pumpkin plant from an 1879 lb pumpkin and 1 pumpkin plant from an 1135 lb pumpkin. The 1135 pumpkin plant had some animal dig by it and it got buried for a while but might come back. Actually doesn’t look too bad but should be growing a little faster-it might have been set back from the incident. That’s why I grow more than one-sh*t happens. And the last 3 years, it’s happened a lot regarding giant pumpkins.

giant pumpkin plant from 2009lb pumpkin

giant pumpkin plant from 2009lb pumpkin

So far, one of the 2009 (grower-Langevin) pumpkin plants looks very good, growing nicely, the other one is a little slower but still good and the 1873 (grower-Steil) plant is looking pretty good too. A glimmer of hope! I fertilized all of them on Monday with a cocktail that had fish fertilizer, mycorrhizal, Azos, kelp emulsion and 2 fungicides-Rootshield Plus and Companion.  I give them some fungicides because I’ve had some die from some fungal wilt before so I’m trying to be preventative. I always say I’m giving them some juice which really is a cocktail of a mix of things all at once and all must be compatible. All giant pumpkins are BIG EATERS so fertilize them 1x a week with at the least fish/seaweed fertilizer. My first year I only did that and got some 200-300 lbers. This is not like the ‘Biggest Losers’ show where you starve the pumpkins in our lousy soil but more like the ‘Biggest Winners’ by feeding them a lot and giving them a lot of water too. You don’t get to be 500-1000 lb+ in 4 months without feeding them every week.

Except for the 1138 pumpkin plant, all giant pumpkin plants are in section 3 of my main garden. I have a mantra I say every time I look at them, “Grow nangua, grow!” It means pumpkin in Chinese. I guess I hope it brings me good luck this year! Time will tell…

One last pumpkin goes in

giant pumpkins_050514

Barry Todd’s pumpkin, 556 Todd second from left. Photo taken May 6.

barrytoddToday I planted the 3rd and final giant pumpkin plant that has been growing steadily in the greenhouse. A pumpkin friend, Barry Todd, from Colorado gave me some pumpkin seeds a few years ago and I planted one of his last year and it was doing great when a rabbit or squirrel ate it down to the ground. So this year I wanted to plant another one of his seeds especially when I heard he was ill. He has been battling leukemia and is pretty sick but fighting on. This seed I planted is a cross between Cristy Harps’ 1725 giant pumpkin that broke the World Record in 2009 and another pumpkin Barry grew out a few years back that he is quite fond of-the Todd 50.  It is the 556 Todd. I was going to grow a giant bushel gourd where the pumpkin will go but I bumped the gourd to squeeze in Barry’s plant. I’m not sure if Barry is planting any pumpkins this year.

I met Barry a few years ago at the Old Colorado City Giant Pumpkin weigh-off and he was so nice to me and offered some pumpkin seeds for the following year. He was the Colorado State Champion for giant pumpkins with a 1308 lb pumpkin in 2010.We have been in touch since then regarding pumpkin growing and he has given me some great tips on how he grows em. I consider him one of my pumpkin mentors. I don’t know much about Barry except he is passionate about his pumpkin growing and his religion and I think it’s his faith that keeps him going. I wish you a full recovery Barry and hope this little plant breaks the NM state record. No matter what it does, I’m growing it in honor of you.

I still have one more plant in case one of the others get eaten or dies.

Giant Pumpkins are in!

pumpkin hotels

My giant pumpkins are in! Last week I managed to get them in the ground. They are being shaded from our intense heat and wind right now in these new low tunnels or ‘giant pumpkin hotels’ as I prefer to call them. This is the newest rendition of the low tunnels for them and I’ve had many designs. All I did is take one of my tomato cages which is made of concrete reinforcement wire and opened it up and put shade cloth over it (while they acclimate). I attached the shade cloth with clothes line pins and held the ends down with rocks. They are staked in the ground so the wind does not pull them up and inside each one is a pumpkin that is also covered with light weight row cover in case a squirrel comes in. As soon as they outgrow the ‘hotel’, I will take them off. They are about 5′ wide by 6′ long and if needed I can put row cover over the cage replacing the shade cloth for more light.

In the background is a strawberry patch I’m revamping but decided to wait before transplanting the ones growing out of their raised bed because they are June bearing strawberries so I want to harvest first. Then afterwards I will complete the move. Also shown are some of my tomatoes in their wall of waters. Some of them are now outgrowing the wall of waters so I am starting to take those off.

It is always amazing to me how desolate the garden looks when I first plant and how lush it will be later.  Nature’s miracle…oh ya and a LOT of HARD WORK!

Giant Pumpkins are UP!

giant pumpkins_050514Here is my final lineup for my giant pumpkins for 2014

HOW TO READ THE LINEUP BELOW:
The first number is how many lbs the pumpkin parent was, the next is the name of the grower, then the date it was grown, after that is it’s genealogy below it (it’s grandparents). It’s important to see who they were because they could have been bigger than the plant the seed came from. The genealogy can go back several generations further.

556 TODD 2011
-comes from: male: 1725 Harp 10/female: 50 Todd

856 Hoffman 2010
-comes from: male: 1544 Revier 09/ female: 1180 Pukos 09

1104 Wallace 2012
-comes from male: 1409.5 Miller/female: 1789 Wallace

1579 Wallace 2012
-comes from: male: 1381/female: 1789 Wallace

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Here is the germination pics. They were planted on April 14th.

Here is my germination process: You need to start them inside the house where it is WARM. An unheated greenhouse or hoophouse will not work very well.

1. I first filed the edges lightly avoiding the tip until I see a little color change on the edge. Do not file too much.

2. I then soaked them for 12 hours in warm water with a few drops of seaweed emulsion.

3. I take a 4 or 5 inch peat pot and cut it in half on the sides only (not the bottom of it) and re-tape it so I can remove the plant more easily later if I need to plant up or if I can plant outside.

4. I planted them into 5 inch peat pots this year (I got the 5 inchers from Lowes here in town) with a good seed starting mix. (Some people put them on damp paper towels in plastic bags on heat mats until the root germinates but I prefer to direct seed them in the pots.

4. I then put them on a seed heating mat and cranked up the heat to 90-95°F. This is important as giant pumpkin seeds germinate faster when the heat is this high. So move other plants off this mat if they can’t handle the heat. If you don’t have a thermostat on your heating mat, you will need one to control the temperature.

5. Check them twice a day and keep moist until they germinate. Sometimes one of the first leaves that germinate (called cotyledon leaves) will push up with the seed shell still attached as in the picture above. I waited a day and gently pulled it off without damaging the leaf.

6. Once they germinate,  you can turn down the heat to about 80° F. They like heat-no they love heat.

7 . I water with a weak solution of seaweed, fish emulsion and microbe brew from Fox Farms (it has mycorrhizal in it to help produce more roots) every week in between their normal watering.

FOR MORE INFO ON HOW TO GROW GIANT PUMPKINS GO GROWING GIANT PUMPKINS

 

Pumpkin disaster

pumpkin plant eaten

Well I started about 5 giant pumpkin plants this spring and am now down to one. Last night a squirrel (or rabbit) did my biggest plant in by chewing through the stem and killed it. Finito. Done. No hope for that one. And it was amazing because it had 2 layers of row cover on it and some shade cloth over the row cover but something must have gotten underneath all that. This is too bad as I started it in mid April in the house and felt it had the greatest possibility to produce a GIANT giant pumpkin. Now I’m down to only one plant (the back up) which is actually the seed from my 2010 NM State Record but it was started a little later as 3 other of my seeds didn’t germinate at all. I’m actually going to plant 2 more seeds directly in the ground now to see if I can get a backup to my back up. The soil is certainly warm enough but I’m not sure I will have enough time now to grow a really big one unless it is some super seed that takes off!

How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin

Ron Wallace set a new 2013 Giant Pumpkin World Record with this 2009 lb pumpkin!

Ron Wallace set a new 2013 Giant Pumpkin World Record with this 2009 lb pumpkin!

Yesterday I taught a class on How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin and told them I would put the full color version in a pdf format on-line for them to use. I discussed all the basic information on growing a giant pumpkin from picking a seed to hand pollination to determining the direction the vine will grow to positioning the baby pumpkin as it grows to harvesting it and much more. Here is the handout for those interested:  GROWING GIANT PUMPKINS with PICS

Here is a photo showing how to determine what direction the pumpkin plant will grow so you can be sure it grows in the direction you want (like not into a fence or wall)!

pumpkin vine direction

Below is a drawing showing how a giant pumpkin vine will naturally grow into a ‘Christmas Tree’ pattern with the longest secondary vines closest to the beginning of where the plant comes out of the ground (called the stump) and how they grow shorter and shorter as they grow towards the end of the main vine.

Pumpkin Christmas tree pattern

 

4th ANNUAL GIANT PUMPKIN BASH!!

Wanted to invite you to my 4th Annual Pumpkin Bash where people take axes or mawls and try to split my biggest pumpkin in half (this year 385 lbs). Come take a whack! Then we cut it up and give it away to anyone who might want a piece of fresh organic pumpkin. The rest we haul away to Food Depot/Kitchen Angels. It’s quite the happening.  Hope you can make it!

4th ANNUAL PUMPKIN BASH!!
THIS SATURDAY, NOV 10 AT 9 AM SHARP
LIQUID LIGHT GLASS
926 BACA STREET #3
SANTA FE, NM
(Bring an ax or mawl if you’d like!)