Sarah's 2018 Diary

swhitty
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swhitty
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Joined: 2:13 PM - Jun 02, 2015

8:28 PM - Jan 30, 2018 #1

I'm getting pumpkin fever again, and I'm ready for a fresh new start on the season! The last few years haven't gone as planned, and I'm hoping this year treats me a little better. I've decided to cut back on the Bangor Community Garden and focus most of my energy on my patch at home. This year I'm also doing something a little different. I'm only planting "proven" seeds that are already known to have grown big pumpkins. The two seeds I have right now are the 1985 Miller and the 1949.5 Paton, and I'm excited to see if this makes a difference. I'm also working on getting rid of disease in my soil by having some bonfires in the areas of my patch that have given me problems in the past. This past fall I bleached EVERYTHING that I used in the garden to minimize transmission of disease. I will be purchasing a bigger greenhouse and will get my early start again by planting my seeds indoors around April 1. Stay tuned, I'm looking forward to updating you in a few months!
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swhitty
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swhitty
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Joined: 2:13 PM - Jun 02, 2015

1:17 AM - Mar 27, 2018 #2

Call me crazy, but I still plan on planting my seeds indoors on April 1 or 2. I have been shoveling the snow out of my pumpkin patch to help speed up the soil drying process, and Dale is going to help me get a bonfire going over the diseased areas of the soil. I don't know how much this will help, but it's worth a shot, and it will help warm up the soil. I cannot wait on Mother Nature's schedule. If I want a record pumpkin I need to start my seeds next week. This helped me get ahead of the game last year, but unfortunately bad luck and disease ruined my chances last year (and the year before that... and the year before that...). I bought a 20' x 10' greenhouse that I will be using for one of my plants, and I have a smaller one for the other plant. There will be a space heater in each of these. In prior years this has increased my electric bill by about $150 a month because they practically run non-stop. I will also have supplemental lighting in the greenhouses in the beginning. We are also cutting down all three trees in my yard this year. Two of them are invasive Norway Maples that don't affect the patch much, and the third is a Sugar Maple that has died on its own and HAS shaded the patch in prior years. I'm excited to see the difference that this makes.
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swhitty
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swhitty
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Joined: 2:13 PM - Jun 02, 2015

2:37 PM - Apr 18, 2018 #3

Dale cut down our dying sugar maple last week, and I can already tell there is going to be much more light in the patch. Our house still blocks some sunlight in the morning, but it is what it is. I set up both my greenhouses last week to keep the soil dry in all this rain (and freezing rain, and snow), and I installed heating cables to start warming up the soil. Between shoveling snow and dirt, my back has been quite sore (for the love of a pumpkin!).

I started my seeds on April 2. I used the same method that I did last year, which is the way Ron Wallace does it as well. To prepare my seeds I filed down the edges, dipped them in a 10% bleach solution, and then soaked them in ½ strength humic/fulvic acid and seaweed for 1 hour. Then I wrapped them up in moist paper towels (with the humic acid and seaweed solution), placed them in plastic bags, and put those in my germination chamber for 12 hours overnight (with a temperature of 85-90 degrees). Then I placed them in my 4 inch pots and watered them with a solution of Rootshield Plus (this is a biological control that should help protect against fungal disease).

The seeds emerged three days later on April 5. Five days later I transplanted them into gallon pots because they were already starting to get root bound. I watered them with ROOT, Companion, and Actinovate. These are more biological controls that help protect against fungal pathogens by crowding out the root system and secreting substances that work against the pathogens. When I planted the seeds and transplanted them, I added both mycorrhizae and Azos to the soil. As Ron Wallace stated, “Inoculation with biologicals must start from the very beginning to ensure proper colonization”.

I transplanted my seedlings outside on 4/17/18. This was a little later than expected because of all the wintry weather we’ve had and a busy work schedule. I have heaters in each of my greenhouses to keep them warmer at night, and I have LED lights above the plants to given them some supplemental light. I don’t know if these actually help, but I had a great start last year when I used them so I’m not going to change that!

The 1985 Miller has been the star seed so far, so I placed that seedling in my prime spot. The 1949.5 Paton has had a slow start, and surprisingly my backup seed “Peanut” (The 867 Whitty which is the 1695 Gaboury x open pollination) has been doing almost as well as the 1985 Miller. I know someone who grew Peanut last year, and she was a beautiful orange color. I really wanted to transplant her into my second spot, but I couldn’t waste the 1949.5 Paton which is a proven seed, has great genetics, and would make a good pollinator for the 1985 Miller. I will probably plant another Peanut seed soon to grow at the Bangor Community Garden (I have a later start there because I don’t have heat or electricity).

I am using Western Laboratories to do my soil testing and tissue testing. They have a program that helps monitor your nutrient levels throughout the season, and I hope this helps me out. I don’t think I was applying enough potassium last year based on how low my soil levels were. I am also going to be extremely aggressive with insect and disease control, and I think this is what’s going to take me to the next level. I want my 1,000 pound jacket!
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swhitty
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swhitty
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11:17 PM - May 06, 2018 #4

Pumpkin is doing well. I've only watered it twice since I've transplanted it because I'm trying to encourage it to spread out its roots. The heaters are running at night, and during the day I look at the weather forecast to see how much I should vent the greenhouses. I recently planted a cover crop of mustard, and that is starting to come up now. Eventually when it gets tall enough I'll till it into the soil. When it gets chopped up it releases a natural "mustard gas" that helps kill weeds and pathogens, and I'm curious to see if this helps suppress any diseases this year. The pumpkin is growing well. Yesterday one of the bigger leaf's stems snapped most of the way off in high winds, but the vine is still in good shape. I set out the long gourd today. This is much earlier than last year, and I plan on having it run along the ground first so it can form some taproots before it climbs up the trellis. I think I'm going to plant little mini pumpkins to go up the other side of the trellis!
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swhitty
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swhitty
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2:22 AM - Jun 24, 2018 #5

It's been a while since I've posted an update. The 1985 Miller is growing well even though many of the nights have still been in the 40s. My first set of secondaries is almost at 15 feet, so it looks like I will be terminating them soon. I have a few sets of secondary vines that stopped growing a few weeks ago, I'm not really sure why. I did my first tissue test last week which was a bit disappointing, but I have applied a bunch of compost and trace minerals as directed, and I'm hoping my next tissue test comes back looking better. I pollinated my first female on June 17. It is 14 feet down the main vine and had 6 lobes. I was hoping to pollinate it with the 1949.5 Paton, but unfortunately there were not any male flowers with pollen on them. The day before when I watered the plants, I got water in all the flowers and washed the pollen away. The 1985 Miller didn't have any male flowers I could use either, so I ended up having to drive over to the Community Garden to use some of those male flowers. Those plants aren't as big, and I only had 2 flowers available from the 920 Whitty. The 920 Whitty is the 758 Berard (1756 Lancaster x 2323.7 Meier) x 1790.5 Wallace.

The day after pollinating this pumpkin it rained all day. Some water got into the female flower, and I'm really hoping it didn't cause the fruit to abort. The fruit is growing slowly every day, but it hasn't taken off yet. Luckily I have another pumpkin further down that I was able to pollinate with the 1949.5 Paton. This one was 5 lobes. I will have another one open up tomorrow as well that I'll be pollinating with the 1949.5 Paton.
WHIT Sarah Whitty SVPumpkin.pdf (137.12 KiB)
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