Today’s course topics: SITE SELECTIONSITE SELECTION SOILSOIL SEEDSSEEDS TRANSPLANTINGTRANSPLANTING PLANT CAREPLANT CARE FRUIT CAREFRUIT CARE PUMPKINVILLE CONTESTPUMPKINVILLE CONTEST
SITE SELECTION AMOUNT OF SUN ELEVATION: DRAINAGE AVAILABILTY TO WATER SPACE REQUIRED
Space Required Patch Patterns 25’ X 30’ = 750 sq.ft 30’ X 50’ = 1500 sq.ft. (675 sq.ft./plant)
Soil Amendments 1.Manure. (Cow, Horse, Rabbit, ect.) 2.Leaves – not too many. 3.Green manure. 4.Your compost mix. –As much as 5 cu.yards per plant. A pick up truck load is approximately 3 cu.yards. Apply in the fall. Spring applied needs to be composted or aged.
SCHEDULING YOUR AMMENDMENTS SCHEDULING YOUR AMMENDMENTS Your Plan of Attack Fall Preparations –Apply bulk amendments –Apply lime Why? Allow to break down. Lime takes 3-4 months to help soil. –Plant cover crop. Rye or wheat. Help stop erosion. Provides N in spring. Add OM. Lack of a cover crop can allow earlier drying in a wet spring. Spring Preparations –Covered next.
SPRING PREPARATIONS SPRING PREPARATIONS Pre-planting preparations Mow cover crop. Amendments: –Gypsum –Lime (if needed) –Minerals (Azomite, Ironite, ect.) Fertilizers: –Compost –Manure –Powdered Kelp (Seaweed) –Fish Work up the ground while tilling in amendments & cover crop/green manure. –Till too early – mud & clumps. (know your soil) –Till too late - cover crop too big, hard to till.
SPRING PREPARATIONS SPRING PREPARATIONS 1 week before planting preparations Pre-warm soil –Should be over 60 degrees. –Plastic sheeting flat on the ground. –Huts covered with plastic sheeting (mini- greenhouses)
SPRING PREPARATIONS SPRING PREPARATIONS before planting Mini-greenhouses can be extremely simple, to the middle-of-the-road, to the more extravagant. Even 4 bales of hay & an old pane of glass can work just fine. Simplest Middle of the road Extravagant
When do I plant? May 1 st to May 10 th -- Keep from freezing. The entire growth cycle takes about 120 days, 60 for plant and 60 for pumpkin. Allows for: –Large plant size at pollination time. –Fastest growth at warmest part of summer. –Last 2-3 weeks in Sept, growth slows down.
SEEDS SEEDS Picking the Right Seeds Dill’s Atlantic Giant Variety. As a beginner, use the best, but cheap seeds. DO NOT use store bought seeds. Great genetics available from other pumpkin growers for FREE.
Genetics – Understanding them. Broken down: –1082.4 Stelts 05 1082.4 = Weight Stelts = Grower’s Last Name 05 = Year (2005) –F = Female (seed it was grown from) 968 Razo 04 –M = Male (pollinator plant) 723.5 Stelts 04
Seed Preparation For Planting Sand the edges – not the tip. –Use emery board. –Sand edge to show light brown line. –Helps crack the seed coat. –Soak in warm water for 1 hour.
Germination And if all goes right, after 4-7 days, the seed sprouts. The seedlings can become root-bound in around a week. –This is usually about the time the 1 st true leaf appears.
TRANSPLANTING TRANSPLANTING The day of planting that seedling Transplant in the mini-greenhouse. Ensure good ventilation, avoid overheating. DO NOT use a pit. A raised bed or small mound is better. –Quicker to warm up. –Better drainage.
TRANSPLANTING TRANSPLANTING The day of planting that seedling Setting the plant. Main vine opposite 1 st true leaf. Transplant solution – 1 gallon of warm water with light fertilizers. Protect plant on cold nights with cheap styrofoam cooler. Spray for bugs!
BETWEEN TRANSPLANT AND POLLINATION The first waiting period. In the next series of slides we will cover some things that will need to be done after transplant and while waiting for pollination time.
Avoid Soil Compaction Daily foot travel compacts the soil. Stepping stones or walk boards should be used. Wet ground will become as hard as concrete. Loose soil helps proper O2 exchange & root spreading.
Vines & Wind Vines grow as much as a foot a day. Leaf stems can be 2- 3 feet tall. –Vines should be staked down and buried. –Helps prevent vine splits & breaks during winds.
Vine Training & Watering Train vines in X-mas tree pattern. Moves vines late in the day, warmer. AM they are cold & brittle. Never move more than a few inches/day Takes a few days to complete a vine move. Till ahead of vine growth. Don’t get too close, white root filaments= too close. To stretch root growth, water some at the stump and some around the root-zone perimeter. Red line growth in next slides.
Irrigation Remember, this plant will need the equivalent of over 1” of rain per week. 623 gallons for 1000 sq. ft/ week. 89 gallons for 1000 sq. ft/ day. Should reach this point around 4 th week of July to 1 st week of August. Optional - cooling/shading as temperatures go above 85 degrees.
POLLINATION Now it’s “Pumpkin Time” POLLINATION All pumpkins start with a bloom. As is common with most plant reproduction, there is a male and female bloom. Both on the same plant. Usually around the last week of June. Female Male
POLLINATION POLLINATION MALES Male Flowers –Long, thin stem –No “mini-pumpkin” under flower –Usually 1 st to arrive, 5 to 7 days before a female. –Pollen
POLLINATION POLLINATION FEMALES Female Flowers –Short, sturdy stem –Marble size ball under flower. –Can be seen in vine tips. –Opens 7-10 days after 1 st appearing
POLLINATION POLLINATION 2 Ways to Pollinate Pumpkins – By Hand or Bees Hand Pollination –Must be controlled or protected to maintain genetics. –Insures thorough distribution of pollen to all segments. –Use multiple male flowers. –Record pollination date and male plant used.
OPEN POLLINATION Bees & insects –Uncontrolled for genetics –Considered “open” pollinated. –May be unreliable with a low bee population or bad weather. –Seeds from open pollinated pumpkins rarely planted.
POLLINATION POLLINATION Which one(s) to pollinate Deformities – seeds. Visualize the larger fruit. –Stem stress “S” bend for shoulders Vine height as fruit height increases –On top of vine Vine & stem splits Shoulders grow off vine Pollinate many on main vine – 10’ out & greater.
Which One(s) To Keep 1 st – decide how many you want on a plant. –Small plant – 1 –Large plant – 2 (?) –1 pumpkin per plant will consistently yield the largest. Circumference measurement benchmarks: –14 day – 40” –21 day – 70” –30 day – 100” Must know pollination date.
Which One(s) To Keep The size of the fruit is an important factor, but consider others: –Feet out on the vine (pollination date). –Shape of the fruit. –Position on the vine. Before August 1 st, cull down to only fruit you are going to grow. –Don’t keep too many.
Other Things to Consider Working on the underside of fruit. Continue vine burying –Prune/ terminate at patch edge. –Discontinue ALL vine growth during 1 st week of August. Fruit sliding – adjusting the position –Sand/ mill fabric –Possibly styrofoam
Other Things To Remember Once fruit is “set”/ pollinated for sure, usually 30” – 50” circ., begin fertilizing again. Read your plant. –Lime green vs. Blue green Fertilize entire root system.
SHADING THE PUMPKIN SHADING THE PUMPKIN What is it & When to use it Keeps fruit from scalding Keeps fruit from internal heating Keeps skin softer –Fewer splits 5” growth/ day circumference White sheet –easiest Make it large enough. –5’ X 5’ Keep the neighbors talking.
More things to Remember Again, while all this is going on…. Maintain weekly insecticide & fungicide applications. Keep plants pest free. Remember – the Cuke Beetle bacterial wilt takes 30-45 days to appear. And again, no vine growth after 1 st week of August.
The Last Things to Do Are… Hope it doesn’t explode. Hope you don’t run out of water. Keep the fruit clean
The Last Things to Do Are… Worry about how big it is really going to get. Estimate with 3-way measurement called Over-The-Top (OTT) Circumference. Stem to blossom. Side to side.
The Last Things to Do Are… Circumference. Stem to blossom. Side to side. Add the 3 together. Go to the OTT chart.
Slow & Steady Wins the Race Remember: –Do everything gradually –Too much fertilizer will end your season faster than too little. –Pre-season ground prep is essential.
Other Info Sources How To Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins (1,2, and 3), by Don Langevin Bigpumpkins.com ANDYW1407@GMAIL.COM
Be Kind to Your Neighbors & … The day before the weigh-off you’ll need lots of help to load this monster. One of the best ways is a tarp & 10 strong backs. Another is a front end loader and a strap lifting device.