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2000 Pumpkin Diary

April 10th: My 11 year old son Bobby and I are bursting with anticipation. We both predict record breaking pumpkins this year and they will come out of our garden. The first Father son combination to each break the world record. The only place where we disagree is whose will be larger.

April 15th: We prepared the beds for a couple of our plants. Now we are really anxious for indoor planting to begin. Our indoor planting date is April 24th.

April 22and: My son Bobby and I can wait no longer. We select our giant pumpkin seeds, file and soak them for several hours,. Then at the end of the day, we put them in a wet baggie and apply bottom heat.

April 24th: The first seed has sprouted a root already!. Yes, one of us is going to break the world record! It is one of Bobby's Seeds. He names it "Big Bob 3".He plants it in a peat pot with pride. After all, he is ahead of Dad. We have created a mini-greenhouse from a big cardboard box. Then, we add a light for heat.

April 24 - May 1st: Almost all of the seeds have sprouted roots and have been placed in the greenhouse until they emerge from the soil. Some have done so already and are now in a sunny spot, aided by a gro-light.

May 8th: All four giants are in the ground. Weather has been good up to now, but cool weather is expected soon.

May 15th: First we had drenching rain, Then, we have had cold weather for the past several days. I have covered the pants up three nights n a row. Little growth. But bugs have found the young plants. Hard to believe that I need to spray already.

May 20th: Very little plant growth due to very cool days and cold nights. And. no shortage of rain. I only have the Giants in the ground. Normally, I have direct seeded miniatures and Jack O'Lanterns into the garden by now. But, I am afraid the cool and overly wet soil will cause the seed to rot.

May 27th: Very little growth, if any. The weather continues to be cold and wet.

June 2and: I dusted with Sevin last night. You would not believe the number of dead cucumber beetles lying on the leaves....literally dozens on each leaf. I just might be saving the plants by spraying. The weather is still up and down, mostly down.

June 6th: Cold and rain continues. Planting early this year was not beneficial as the plants have barely grown. Once the weather breaks, they will take off....How's that for optimism??

June 20th: The weather remains cold one day, warm the next. And rain is an almost everyday event. I regret not using greenhouses for my plants as they are only about two feet long, far behind plants in other parts of the country. But, ever the optimist, my plants will still produce that 2000 pounder! Just wait and see.

June 27th: Of four giants planted, one has green babies....a squash variant! and on my largest and most healthy plant. I have not decided whether to keep it.

June 28th: I am pumping lots of liquid fertilizer onto and into the plants to try to catch up to others. I found a Squash bug! Over the years, I have seen very few. I suspect it is doe to the wet weather. On the bug front, cucumber beetles are unbelievable this year.

July 1st: Where are the babies!?! Last year I had babies pollinated on this day. I remain about 10 days behind. Warmer weather is helping, but the vines are only about six feet.

July 3rd: Rain, again.....what a year! I have one baby that should be ready tomorrow. But it is positioned wrong. I will probably pollinate it, and watch for a better positioned baby in a few days. No babies on the other plants.

Fourth of July!: I pollinated one baby pumpkin. The babies are few and far between. Pumping nitrogen to try to catch up has probably delayed the babies. Time to switch to higher phosphate. I will apply triple phosphate (0-46-0) today. It is bug heaven this year due to the rain and humidity. I no sooner apply Sevin that the rain washes it off.

The Jack O'Lanterns and miniatures are growing great. They are vining and right on schedule! It just might be a banner year for these!

July 10th: Finally, I am pollinating my second baby. With a little luck, I will have at least two babies pollinated on each plant by the end of the week. Weather is perfect for pollinating. Dry, upper 70's for a high, 60 ish for lows.

July 11th: I am watering every day morning and night. It actually has not rained for a week, the first time this year. I have gone to drip irrigation hoes off my water hose. It works great! Tonight I reapplied sevin. The bugs are all over. I have found a sizable number of eggs under the leaves. I only hope I am finding them all.

July 13th: Titan's offspring is the largest and strongest vine with the largest leaves. But the fruit is green. I am toying with keeping it even though it will be classified as a squash. All the plants are 12 to 15 feet long and good secondaries.

July 14th: There is at least one baby pollinated on each plant. The baby pollinated on the 4th, is large grapefruit size. But, it is positioned wrong. I am hoping that #2 on the plant will take as it's position is close to perfect. Time to think of names. One will be Goliath.

The miniatures and the Jack O'Lanterns are all vining out nicely. I am experimenting with miniatures in a 5 gallon bucket. They are also growing strong.

Expecting rain tomorrow and throughout the weekend...what else is new. So, I spread granular fertilizer around all of my garden plants. I used a mix and a second....Phosphate (0-24-0) to promote more flowering.

July 15th: We got 2.34 inches of rain today! There goes the Sevin and I'm some of the fertilizer washed right through and out of the garden.No sense in adding Sevin as we are expecting more rain for the next three days. Tomorrow, I will look for insect eggs under the leaves.

July 16th: Torrential downpours n the afternoon. The good news is I do not need to water.

I have two or three baby pumpkins on each of my giants. The largest is positioned wrong and I will probably cull it in a few days....if I have the nerve.

I put Sevin down again near the evening. I found a few insect eggs.

July 17th: Rain again. Thunderstorms washing out the Sevin.

July 18th: The largest pumpkin is volleyball size and taking off. All the other babies look healthy. One good thing about the cooler weather is the baby boom is evident versus last year.
My Titan stock is the most prolific grower, but the fruit may turn out to be a squash variant as it is green. It happens. Vines are between 15-20 feet on each plant. The largest leaves are 21.5 by 19.5 inches and are a healthy green thanks to mother nature and liquid fertilizer on the leaves.

July 19th: The biggest news in the patch tonight has now become a swear word "Deer". During the night, deer came in and nibbled off the tips of a number of main vines and runners. They also ate the youngest leaves, about a foot along each of those vines. Fortunately, the baby pumpkins were unharmed.Tonight, I did not have enough time to go and buy a repellent.

I also took off a basketball sized fruit which was positioned wrong and would have eventually pinched or break the vine. It was tough to do and my daughter was mad, but a pumpkinectomy was required.

July 20th: I applied a deer repellent and applied Sevin. Of course it would later rain.

All the giants have one or two babies. All but one of the babies is showing signs of growth and positioning is good on all of them.

July 21st: Burying more vines by covering with soil is the action of the evening. They are growing quickly. No deer, and I am not finding insect eggs....that could be good or bad.

I am foliar feeding whenever I get home early enough to apply it and have the leaves dry before evening.

July 23rd: I spotted and killed two squash vine borer moths and two squash bugs. Time to redouble my efforts with Sevin and inspecting leaves. I also applied fungicide before a problem arises.

Time to dust off the excel file with the log and growth chart.

Jack O'Lanterns are forming babies. No action on the miniatures. yet.

July 24th: The news in the patch tonight was around my 11 year old, Bobby's plant. For the last two years he has had disasters in the patch. Tonight, I told him to pour the mixture in the sprinkling can onto the base of his plant. He misunderstood and put the entire bottle of concentrated fish emulsion on the base. Needless to say, I flushed with lots and lots and lots of water. He will either have a 3000 pounder or it will explode. Stay tuned. His largest fruit has a serious split on the stem. I used an old rubber band trick and covered with Sevin. Say your prayers.

July 25th: Bobby and I put temporary shade covers over the five biggest fruit. They are growing well. Next week we will be away on vacation and will be anxious to make our first measurements upon our return.

August 3rd: Back from vacation. The weather has been the same as it's been all summer. COol and rainy. There is diseases looming i may garden. Most affected are beans and corn. I did spot some powdery mildew. I will apply fungicide tomorrow.

All varieties are thriving. Once more I planted too close and it's a jungle in each area. I will never learn.

August 4th: I applied fungicide, foliar fertilizer and sevin. We have five giants in varying sizes. The biggest is 55 inches in circumference and about 10 days behind last year.

August 5th: The largest is now 58" circumference and 140" OTT. I also have a squash variant that reins in the patch, the first I have ever had. It comes from seed that I know is third generation pumpkin.. It is light green and could possibly turn orange. It is 65" circumference and 169 OTT. Genetics on these beasts are still unpredictable.

I found more insect eggs, away from the Nasturtium.

August 6th: A sad day in the patch as we mourned the passing of our second largest giant pumpkin. It had suffered some damage from slug early on and I suspect the slugs had eaten a deeper wound than I had thought.

August 8th:  I pollinated another baby on the plant that just lost one. Bugs abound, including aphids in the Nasturtiums! I am applying Sevin for control.

August 10th: I applied Sevin and fertilizers. Regular rains continue, enough to wash off the Sevin.

August 11th: The light green giant (squash) is 176 pounds. The largest yellow giant is about 108 pounds.My two largest are 9 to 14 days behind last year at this point.

August 24th: With most of the gardening season behind us, this year will go down as one of the worst in decades in our area. My garden has not been spared the impact of a cold and rainy season. I will have a fair crop of miniature pumpkins. My Jack O'Lanterns will be fewer but bigger than average. The giant pumpkins have suffered the most. After late blooming, the early pumpkins often aborted or rotted. I will have  four or five over one hundred pounds, but no record breakers. 

My largest is a green pumpkin which will undoubtedly be recorded as a squash. It is currently 241 pounds and growing steadily. My next largest is 150 pounds, growing steady, but slow.

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