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Pumpkin Diary

April 27th: Indoor planting day! Hope and optimism abounds. Don't you just love this time of year!? My 12 year old son and I have selected our choice of Giant Pumpkin Seeds seed for the season. He is intent of beating me this year.

We are using the wet paper towel in a baggie method to sprout the seeds. Today is the day we start.

April 30th: My son may be right about beating me. His seed has sprouted already and we planted it into a peat pot.

May3rd: All the seedlings, except the 1064 Needham ,are up and growing. In a couple of das I will start backups...just in case.

May 10th: Bobby planted his pumpkin outdoors today as the roots  are already growing out of the peat pot.. I will plant one of mine tomorrow.  The weather is perfect, with no frost in sight.

The 1064 Needham seedling never sprouted, so I started a backup.

May 13th: We have had three weeks of no rain, unheard of for our area this time of year. We are lightly watering the pumpkins every day, using a light application of Miracle Grow.

May 15th: Our area got nipped by an unexpected, spotty frost last night. It missed the garden,  what a relief.

May 18th: A good, soaking rain arrived today. It was needed. Now watch the pumpkins grow. Bobby's 968 Stellpflug is beginning to vine.

May 19th: I planted the backup 1064 Needham.  Backup plants are very important. I still have other, in case of frost, or other disaster. All giant pumpkins are now in their beds and growing well.

May 22and: Measurable and significant rain is now in our area and is expected to continue for  most of the week. It is very welcome to relieve dry conditions. The rain is causing weeds to pop out all over. One pumpkin plant is starting to vine out.

May 26th: We are stuck in a  pattern of cooler weather and rain. Fortunately, it is not too cool.  Some areas of the country are getting rain and a northerly flow of cool air. We are getting the same rain, but a southerly breeze. The weeds are growing along with the pumpkins.

Important: We have spotted a few holes in the leaves. I sprayed for bugs. A little early, but better safe than sorry.

May 27th: A major rain wind and hail storm struck the area. We are really thankful that we have a pumpkin patch this morning. The hail was sizable. There were a few holes in some leaves, but nothing major. The Stellpflug 968 has been vining out and was whipsawed by the wind. It is now going in a new direction. But, it appears to be okay. The learning here is that we should either provide wind protection or stake it down in some way, even when they are small.

May 28th: On again off again rain. Temperatures in the 60's with more of the same predicted for the whole week. Not much you can do in the patch in this weather. Plants are a healthy green, so I will not add nitrogen right now.

May 30th: Here I am covering up all four giant pumpkins. The temperature might go into the 30's tonight. They are not predicting frost for my area. So, that's when you can get caught off guard. Besides, covering them up on cold nights will help their overall health and vigor. They really slow down in cold weather. I applied water with Miracle Grow on the plants just before covering them.

Note: I should apply Sevin over the weekend. It's time.

June 2and: I applied Sevin lightly.

June 3rd: Rain washed the Sevin away.
I am trying an experiment. I have read a lot about using old tires for raised gardens. They absorb heat. With the cool, rainy weather we have been having, why not see if it works. I placed an old tire around the smallest plant. Stay tuned.

June 6th: Believe it or not, I watered the plants. The rains lately have been light showers and I wanted the water to get deeper in the mounds. I then dusted with Sevin.  Plants are vining out, but slowly due to the weather.

June 10th: I have been away from working in the patch for a few days. I have been adding water. The weather has been pumpkin perfect. I applied Sevin tonight as the cucumber beetles are out in force. The plants are vining and doing well. One plant has yellowing on some of the leaves.

June 11th: We had a good soaking rain today. The kind that makes all living plants (and weeds) grow. Stay tuned.

June 15th: Cucumber Beetles are everywhere. I sprayed all plants, and will continue to do so regularly.

June 18th: All four plants are vining nicely. Bobby's is the largest at 5/12 feet. Mine is 4 1/2 feet. We are trenching across the lawn in advance of the vine. We fill the trench with a variety of good stuff.

June 19th: It continues to be dry. Bobby is out of school and called me at work to ask about watering. He has just become a "Waterboy". By his questions about caring for the plants, I know he is now hooked on gardening.....good!  I can not water while I am in work, so the extra water during the day will help grow even bigger pumpkins.

It hit 96 degrees today. A record for the day and the third time in the nineties this year versus none in last year's miserable gardening season.

June 21st: Bobby's main plant,  a Stellpflug 968, is a flat vine. (This winter I need to do more research on what causes them) I am not going to tell him. Fortunately, weeks ago I convinced him to have a back up. He grew a Titan right next to it. Because it was a back-up,  Titan was germinated last and is the smallest plant. But, he could be the "beast of the Patch" as he is growing strong. I have less than twenty Titan seeds left from a few years ago,so I have big hopes for this plant.

June 22and: We've got babies! Females have appeared on most plants. That means germination is about 7-10 days away. Males are also forming. We are right on track for a July 1-4 germination, perhaps a day or two early. It is time to begin making the "U" shape for the vine.

June 23rd: an all day rain, unfortunately on a Saturday. I will need not re-apply Sevin as the Cucumber beetles are all over the place.

June24th: Despite yesterday's rain, we are back to watering and much more deeply.

June 25th: I applied Phosphorus (0-46-0) to all pumpkin plants. It is time to begin to stress it as many flowers are starting to appear. None have opened yet.

Note: I need to apply foliar feeding. I am not doing that as frequently as last year due to lack of time...make time.

June 26th: I continue to shape the vines into the "U" shape for proper positioning of the fruit. Every time I do so, I think about last year's diary notes as I broke a couple of vines doing this last year. The learning was go slow over a number of days. It is paying off.

June 27th: The heat and dry weather continues. Pour on the water!

June 28th:  All but one giant pumpkin plant has babies. Even Titan, the beast of the patch has a baby. But, it looks like it will be green! I covered two female flowers as  they will open in a day or two. I want to control pollination.

The Jack O'Lanterns are vining at an extremely fast pace. The miniature pumpkin plants are growing up the fencing that I stapled to the back of the shed. They are about 3 feet high.

Watering every day as there is no rain and the temperatutres are 85-90 each day.

June 30th: I pollinated the first baby. It's on Bobby's plant (968 Stellpflug) which unfortunately is a flat vine. Of interest, all side vines are healthy and normal! Later in the afternoon, we rushed home to tend to the plants just in advance of a storm with strong winds. Bobby's plants needs anchoring down as the flat vine is not putting out a lot of secondary roots.

I put general purpose fertilizer on and Phosphorus (0-46-0) in anticipation of a cold front that is moving in with rain. We need it.

July 1st: A thunderstorm overnight and a big, windy one today. This will be the first day I do not water in a couple of weeks. The soil is wet to a good depth. Lots of cucumber beetles. So, I will apply Sevin again tonight.

I pollinated another plant today. Not a lot of males are out. Fortunately, all it takes is one.

The miniature pumpkins have now climbed five feet up the fence. But, no sign of female flowers yet.

July 9th: Bugs are everywhere. I applied Sevin  dust, and do so every three to four days. I have been hand picking  Squash Bug eggs off the bottom of the leaves for days. I can't imagine getting them all as there seems to be thousands of leaves and eggs are on a number of them all over the garden.

I have been lax in documenting my efforts in the patch. Life is busy. The past several days have been spent pollinating, and watering in the patch.

July 11th: The weather this summer has been great. Not enough rain, but that is preferable to last year as we can always add water. And, I am doing so every day right now. I wish I had bought more drip hose.

July 12th: The plant with the best genetics has not had a pollinated pumpkin yet. Once more, I am behind in burying the vines. And, those secondary roots are so important. I also applied granular fertilizer.

July 13th I will leave for Boy Scout camp with my son very early on Saturday. The first female on this plant will open a few hours later. Go figure. I guess/hope it will be open pollinate.

The big question is will my wife water the plants while I am gone. She supports me fully, but is not a gardener. I took her out to the garden tonight and showed her just where to water.

July 18th: Well, the wife did  a spectacular job caring for the garden while I was gone at Boy Scout camp. We are in the middle of a drought and she watered every day. The plants look great and the pumpkins are growing fast.

July 19th: I applied Sevin and inspected for insect eggs. I found and removed lots of eggs.

July 20th: I pollinated a second fruit on the 1064 Needham. This is my best genetics. The plant has been slow to grow ,and slow to produce fruit. I now have at least two fruit on all plants. I will keep one or two on each plant. I am tempted to take one plant and leave up to five on it. I did this a couple of years ago, and got five fruit between 175 and 300 pounds.

July 21st: Bobby's (my 12 yr old) pumpkin rules! A fanatical StarTrek fan, Bobby has named his fruit "Enterprise". A second fruit on another vine he has named "Spock". Enterprise is now 80 pounds and is boldly growing as no pumpkin has grown before. And, it's on a flat vine. Meanwhile Dad's pumpkins are no slackers. They are racing to catch up and earn the "Beast of the patch" title. Stay tuned.....

I applied all purpose fertilizer and a second application of Potassium (0-0-60). Heavy watering is the rule as it has not rained in a couple of weeks.

July 22and: Aside from watering, we put up the shade covers on the largest three fruit. We have to make three more.

July 23rd: A heat wave is on in full force. 93 degrees today. The newer leaves have wilted in the heat during the day. We are pouring o the water. 

July 24th: I have finally put the measurements into my computer. Bobby's pumpkin , "The  Enterprise" is one week ahead of my personal best! But Avenger (my biggest) is growing at a faster rate. So, the race is on!

Here are the Circumferences of the largest pumpkin on each of our five plants:

Enterprise 77 inches

Avenger 58 inches

Goliath 51 inches

Spock 39 inches

Titan 28 inches

90's again today and no rain. We are watering every chance we get.

July 25th: We are heading off to the 1000 Islands for a couple of days. Hopefully, there will be sufficiently water in the soil to keep the plants charging forward. I will keep my fingers crossed.

August 4th: Powdery mildew has hit the garden, despite the dry conditions. I applied a fungicide to pumpkins tomatoes and squash plants. I think this is the latest I have ever applied it. There was only a little disease in the pumpkin patch, but let's nip it in the bud.

August 9th: I have been so busy lately, that I have been remiss in updating this diary. But, the daily routine has been largely the same. Weather has been unchanging the entire period since I last wrote: high temps, almost non-existent humidity and absolutely no rain. I have been watering every day with soaker hoses and  a water wand.

Today and yesterday were mid to upper 90's. One of my two thermometers read 102 in the shade yesterday. I have turned to overhead sprinklers a couple of times a day in mid day. It has helped to revive the seriously wilting leaves. Without it, I think I would have had some leaf damage. I have lost some cucumbers to the heat.

The pumpkins have been putting on poundage, with the largest gaining 15-18 pounds per day.

August 10th: In the race for the biggest pumpkin, my son Bobby's (named Enterprise, as in Star Trek) is way out front. It is 438 pounds at 278 OTT. It is about 90 pounds ahead of my largest. Bobby's plant is a falt vine.

August 12th: I applied Daconil, a fungicide to all my pumpkin plants, squash, the tomatoes. Powdery Mildew has a foothold in all of these crops. It is the second time I have applied it.

Applying water daily is still a major task. Drought in our area is now moderate to extreme.

August 13th: It rained! Finally, just when we were beginning to wonder if it would ever rain again, it came. A nice, soaking rain with no wind hit the area for about 10-15 minutes. It was certainly not enough to thoroughly moisten the parched soil, but it helped. 

Hours before the rain came, I applied a foliar fertilizer to the plants. The leaves are showing signs of aging.

The pumpkins are growing strong on three of the five plants. Enterprise is now around 460 pounds, with Avenger still 80 pounds or so behind. Unfortunately, Enterprise is turning orange signalling ripening. All other fruit is still yellow.

August 14th: As I write this in the early morning, we are experiencing a steady rain. The rain is the "Talk of the Town" as people had forgotten what it sounded like. This will be the first day that I will not water since early July.

August 28th: Almost one ton of pumpkins (Three fruit) were destroyed last night by roaming deer in my back yard in Suburbia. Of course, they gouged the three largest of five. The remaining will be too small to take to any wieighoff.

The largest victim (my 12 year old son's pumpkin at almost 600 pounds) had a sizable split to the middle. We have been trying all day to close the wound. Captan is no longer available in our area. So we used Daconil. After trying a number of times to close the wound with caulk, we had to stuff a 1/2 inch wide and several inches long slit with paper towels. Then, we re-applied caulk. We are not optimistic at this point.

Obviously a major catastrophe, the learning here is to protect your fruit against these marauders, even in suburbia. It was an expensive lesson. Our remaining two are now fenced.



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