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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 89 Entries.
Thursday, January 5 View Page
Hello all, this is our second year growing the AG. Last year we grew a 333lb pumpkin outside on our allotment here in Oxfordshire, UK. We have learned a lot since then, and this year we hope to improve somewhat. First of all, a soil analysis showed a pH of 7.6 which is way high but not unexpected given the chalky soil we have here. I'd like to remove it all and put in fresh topsoil, but that will have to wait until next year when bigger things are planned. Until then, all I can do is add some sulphur and hope that will reduce the pH once things warm up a bit.
Monday, January 9 View Page
I've just built this trough container for our tomato plants this year. Hopefully the larger volume of compost will not dry out so frequently; last year the gro-bags didn't carry enough water and we ended up with blossom end rot.
Tuesday, January 10 View Page
Today I added a ton of new topsoil to the patch and mixed it in with some chicken manure and vermiculite. I will add more topsoil later. It's only for where the pumpkin starts off, though ideally it would cover the whole patch. I'll get a soil test done on this new soil, which I bought as 'vegetable growing topsoil' to see exactly what pH it is and what it requires etc.
Wednesday, January 11 View Page
When adding the soil, I partly-submerged some upside-down plastic milk crates into the patch. This is so I can use them like stepping stones, preventing soil compaction. I'll also use planks and boards, but these will be more permanent, take up less space and I won't have to make the effort of heaving them around everywhere. I've not tried this before, but I hope the gaps and spaces in the crates will allow soil, water & roots to pass through unhindered, while they're strong enough to allow me to 'walk on the soil surface' without disturbing anything.
Thursday, January 12 View Page
Before I send the new topsoil off for analysis, I had a quick check of the EC, and it came out at a respectable 1.3 I think is a nice base level because it leaves room for specific fertiliser treatment when necessary.
Friday, January 13 View Page
This is what passes for snow here in southern England!
Saturday, January 14 View Page
Today we also got some tasty Brussels sprouts from our allotment. Even though the plants were nearing the end of their life and some were toppled over, we still got some good ones.
Friday, January 20 View Page
OK the soil analysis came in today, all good but for potassium which is a bit on the high side, hopefully the rain will leach it out to normal levels by the time spring comes. Also the pH is a bit on the high side, so I will dig in some peat moss and/or add some sulphur to bring it down.
Saturday, January 28 View Page
I like to grow cactus as well as pumpkins and veg. Certain species like Mammillaria luethyi are tricky to grow and they often dry up and die during the rest period, So I brought this one inside and put it under the growlights with a drop of water. I wasn't expecting any flowers so this is a very welcome sight during this bleak January.
Tuesday, January 31 View Page
This new topsoil from another souce is a sandy loam, but it looks more sand than loam! I'll send off a sample to the lab to see exactly what's in it. The inverted milk crates are working well, I can work the land without getting all covered in mud.
Saturday, February 4 View Page
Now there's a sight - 3 tons of cow manure. Great stuff. Now for the arduous job of taking it down the track to our allotment. I estimate there's about 30 wheelbarrow's worth.
Sunday, February 5 View Page
10 down, 20 to go. We probably have too much for the pumpkin patch, but there's plenty of other spots on the allotment that could do with some so nothing will go to waste.
Friday, February 17 View Page
As far as gardening gadgets are concerned, these knee pads are one of the better ones. Today I spent a lot of time shifting soil and manure around using a short handled spade, which would surely have been impossible to do without them.
Friday, April 7 View Page
The main plot for this season and it's 9m x 6m. I'll grow 2 pumpkins at each end. We have 2x Wallace 1975 seeds and a couple of seeds kindly donated by the Patons. After about a month the weakest ones will be removed, leaving just one growing from each end. I'll then direct the vines to opposite corners so the plants won't clash in the middle. It's dry and warm here and has been for a while, we could do with some rain to get the soil better prepared.
Thursday, April 13 View Page
OK so this year we have 2 x Wallace 1975, one in each pot at the back, and some Paton 1865 in the other pots. Seeds were soaked overnight in the airing cupboard in Canna Start at pH 6.5. Today they were planted in Canna Terra Seed Mix with some Azos bacteria spores and Great White mycorhizal fungi propagules in the propagator at 28 degrees C. The pots were watered with Canna Start at pH 6.5 yesterday and left in the propagator overnight to get up to temperature before sowing today. Here's to a successful season, good luck to one and all!
Wednesday, April 19 View Page
Windbreak is up, nursery area on the right. There's another one at the other end of the plot. Next thing to do is make the cloche and prepare soil for seedlings.
Saturday, April 22 View Page
Soil test as of this week, I've put a lot of work in over the past 6 months so I'm very happy especially with the pH drop as it was high at 7.7. Still more work to be done though, like getting seeds to germinate! For some reason they're just not doing it :(
Saturday, April 29 View Page
Today I got halfway through building the coldframe/cloche/nursery when I ran out of time. I'll finish it tomorrow. It's 2m x 2m and will house 2 plants of which I'll eventually keep just one. Also some good news, I finally had a couple of germinations today. Thanks to Ian & Stuart Paton for the seeds.
Sunday, April 30 View Page
Here are the Paton seeds that germinated yesterday, I'll find out exactly which plant they came from later in the week. The temp is too high for them so they will be moved somewhere a bit cooler soon.
Monday, May 1 View Page
We tried out these Root Riot germination pods this year with 100% germination out of 6 seeds. When you pull the pod out for potting up, you can see the extent to which the roots burst out of the seed case. There's no need to remove the seedling from the pod cube, it just gets absorbed into the potting mix. I'll certainly use them again next year.
Tuesday, May 2 View Page
We are a couple of weeks behind everyone else but in the scheme of things it doesn't matter. Here are the seedlings under the grow lights. Soil temp 20C and air temp 22C. Watering today with humic acid and Cannastart, pH 6.8, EC 0.7 with water at room temp. The ones in the larger pots had some Great White mycorrhizae and Azos added to the rootzone.
Wednesday, May 3 View Page
Here is the growing area this evening with the grow lights switched off after the daily 12 hour stint. There's additional light from the window too, and it's all reflected back into the growing area by silver foil sheeting.
Friday, May 5 View Page
Less than one week after germination and here we are, looking good so far
Sunday, May 7 View Page
Just 8 days after germination and we have a 4" first true leaf on a couple of plants. I'm always astonished how quick they grow. This week I will be putting them outside during the day, and bringing indoors during the night. Room temp water with Cannastart and humic acid, pH varying from 6.8-7.0 and EC 0.9-1.1.
Tuesday, May 9 View Page
They seemed so happy and cosy indoors under the growlights, but they have to be hardened off at some point. Here they are outdoors in the back garden, albeit in a mini-greenhouse to get them aclimatised. It's not too cold, but overcast today. They will be brought back indoors for the night, then outside again tomorrow. I expect to plant out at the allotment somertime next week.
Thursday, May 11 View Page
It's been sunny and/or mild this week, so the plants have been quite happy outside. As you can see they're outgrowing their mini greenhouse. I'll further harden them off this week in order to get them ready for the plot next week.
Saturday, May 13 View Page
They're bursting out of the mini greenhouse and are desperate to be planted out, roots growing outside of the pots now. Tonight will be their first night outside, albeit in a sheltered coldframe. Night temps are expected to be about 9C tonight (48F). Watering with the same as before.
Sunday, May 14 View Page
This is the water butt which holds 1000l with a head of 6 ft. It took well over an hour to fill from the hosepipe. I don't really want to use tapwater because it's chlorinated but I don't have much choice. A water filter will be considered next year. We don't have any electricity at the allotment so I am hoping there will be enough pressure to irrigate the patch without using an electric pump. I have some drip tape arriving this week but I'll have to experiment to see how it works best.
Tuesday, May 16 View Page
I think I have solved the problem of chlorinated tap water without having to use a filter - this stuff will turn the chloramine into NH4 and the chlorine is either bound or released into the atmosphere (not sure which), either way it's safe for plants as it's intended use is for aquariums with plants. The pH is unaffected. The reason for doing this is to keep the chlorine in tap water from killing bacteria. There's no point in using Azos etc if tap water just kills them all. If it's good enough for aquarium plants, and fish which are especially sensitive to chlorine, then it should be ok for pumpkins, but I'll do a bit of testing first before chucking it into the 1000l tank!
Friday, May 19 View Page
Yesterday I wrapped the water tank with black plastic film to prevent light from entering and thus prevent algal growth. It will also warm the water somewhat though I'm not sure how much yet.
Saturday, May 20 View Page
Planting out time, at last! I can't imagine a better rootball than that. This thing is dying to get out of the pot and into the wild. We used Paton seed, either the 2157 or 1949, not sure which, I'm not really that bothered TBH they're both good. We'll grow two side by side and see which one does best before removing the weaker one.
Saturday, May 20 View Page
We planted both into Canna Terra Pro with some extra vermiculite added, pre-warmed to 17C (64F). The rootballs were dusted with Azos and Great White myco, and everything was watered in with Canna Rhizotonic, humic acid, yukka extract (surfactant) and pH adjusted to 7.0 with EC 1.1. Last night the temp went down to 8C (36F) and during the day gets into the mid 20s (80F) which I'm happy with though I wouldn't want it to get too much colder than that at night. At the other end of the allotment we also planted some plants from our own 333 which we grew last year, our first attempt at growing the Atlantic Giant, and with way less knowledge than we have now! Ironically the 333 plants look to more vigorous than the Paton plants, but it's a long summer, let's see what happens.
Wednesday, May 24 View Page
Here are the two 333s growing side by side in the smaller of the two grow houses at the other end of the allotment. Somehow I think we may have mixed the seeds up with the Paton ones because they are way ahead in development and looking much stronger. But time will tell. It's been quite hot today, plain water refreshment pH6.5 with yucca extract.
Tuesday, May 30 View Page
The weather has been good for growing this week, warm with a mixture of sunshine and showers. The pumpkins are still in their houses, this is one of the Patons and it's showing the classic star ship Enterprise shape as it's about to touch down.
Tuesday, May 30 View Page
This is one of our own 333s, it's outperformed its brother which was culled today. It's also progressing much better than the Patons also. I'm not using fancy compost with this, just ericaceous multipurpose, but it still gets the Azos, Rhizotonic etc etc as the others do.
Friday, June 2 View Page
Here is one of the Paton plants, things are doing OK but it does look like the vine is wanting to go 45 degrees in the wrong direction, so it will have to be coaxed back on track with canes. This plant is now about 4 weeks since germination. The weather has been warm and dry for a while now, I have been taking the roof off the cloche during the day and replacing it at night. Night temps inside with the roof on are about 12C (54F). Day temps are 20-25C (70-80F) which is great. Watering every morning with a variety of things as before, sometimes with a pinch of Mg salt or Ca nitrate, keeping pH less than 7 and EC max 1.2. I also used Canna Terra Vega this week for the first time.
Tuesday, June 6 View Page
OK so I go away for 3 days and during my absence there's a storm and nobody to batten down the hatches. As such many leaves on both plants are looking battered & bruised with a few stems broken. Worse than that is this 4" stem split on the Paton, right near the stump. I don't have experience of this before, so I have no idea if it's no big deal or if this plant is now good only for the compost heap. As it happens, I only have 2 plants now, so I'll dust it down with sulphur and see what happens. I might even plant some more seeds, even at this late stage.
Wednesday, June 7 View Page
This is the 333 and as you can see it's almost outgrown the 1 metre square cloche. The fact that it was small and tight, and surrounded by mesh fencing, meant the winds didn't affect it so much, so the only damage in the storm was just one bent stem. I hope the weather improves so I can remove the cloche completely.
Thursday, June 8 View Page
This is the growing end of the Paton plant, you can see some of the damaged leaves from the storm. The main vine looks to be quite broad, I'm not sure if this is a ribbon vine, or if it's actually normal. If it is the former, then is that a problem? I'm sure I've read somewhere that ribbon vines can be problematic, though I'm not sure how/why. Other than that, the plant appears healthy and is growing well.
Saturday, June 10 View Page
This may not look like much but it's the happy result of something that I have been sweating about since last year and that I've tested today for the first time. The irrigation salesman said 'oh it'll never work' but the 1000l water tank feeding 10m lengths of irrigation hose 50cm apart covering about 600 m sq - using just gravity, no pumps - appears to be working fine :) Let's see if it will last the season.
Sunday, June 11 View Page
This is the 333 which is about 5 feet long now. I'm continuing to protect the growing tip by moving the cloche forward as it grows. The cloche is 3 sided and protects the delicate growing tip from the wind which can not only dessicate but also physically damage the young leaves.
Tuesday, June 13 View Page
Here is the 333 with a lot of wind protection. Ideally I'd like to grow pumpkins in a polytunnel but that will have to wait until next year. Untill then I will just have to deal as best I can with bent leaves, broken stems and stressed roots due to wind which occurs even at low speeds. I'm moving the cloche forward about 6" every day as the vine lengthens. Some good news is that the soil pH is down from 7.6 last year to a very comfortable 6.8, no doubt due to the sulphur that I added all those months ago!
Wednesday, June 14 View Page
It's been quite warm recently and the temp of the water in the 1000l tank has got up to 26C (82F) which is way up from the ideal of 18C (66F) where dissolved oxygen peaks. If it gets that hot at this time of year I can only imagine how it will be in July & August. So I wrapped it in white to reflect the heat from the sun. The black is still underneath to block light and algal growth.
Thursday, June 15 View Page
Snapshot of my son Oliver, 9, about to strike the fatal blow to the ribboning Paton plant. I'd already cut the ribbon vine with a view to growing a secondary instead, but it just didn't look salvageable, with vines and flowers etc appearing all over the place. At least it will make good compost. Anyway we're very lucky in that Oliver's grandad Ron has generously provided us with a backup plant to replace it. So we will dig this one out and transplant the new one in. I've learned a lesson and next year I will make sure I have plenty of backup plants of my own in place.
Friday, June 16 View Page
OK so the ribbon plant has been replaced by a back up of unspecified origin. The rootball was kept intact throughout. I made that sound straightforward, but it wasn't a easy! It was watered in with Canna Rhizotonic, Azos, Humic Acid and White Widow mychorhizae. Here it is 24 hours after transplant, looking suprisingly flush. It's a few weeks behind the 333 but I am confident it will catch up soon with the right treatment.
Monday, June 19 View Page
Here's the 333 at dusk on Sunday, secondaries are beginning to assert themselves, and several fledgling female flowers are appearing. I'll pinch them out when large enough to do so. There is plenty of air movement despite the close guard wind protection. It's been quite hot recently, with more heat & sun to come. Water every morning & evening.
Monday, June 19 View Page
Here's my son Oliver, 9, about to take a 333 seedling to school today. It's obviously late in the season to be planting out a week-old seedling like this, but they'll have a lot of fun growing it in the school veggie plot. Who knows how it will turn out...?!
Monday, June 19 View Page
Here is the new pumpkin plant just a few days after transplant and it seems very happy so far. No secondaries to speak of yet but that will soon change I am sure. One leaf suffered from scorch today but I expected more seeing as we're having a heatwave at the moment with solar radiation being reported as being on a par with what you'd get as far south as Cyprus. I did some damping down on this and the 333 in the early afternoon. I've also started to store the Azos, nutrients, supplements etc in a cool bag because they were getting too hot in the shed.
Tuesday, June 20 View Page
First male flower of the season today on the 333, a bit of a fluke I think as the others are nowhere near ready yet. It's been hot and sunny all week. Growth of the main vine continues at about 6-8 inches per day. All is well!
Tuesday, June 20 View Page
We're using the Paton method of vine burial where pots filled with wet compost, Azos & fungi are used to cover the nodes. One of the nodes has produced a root that's sneaked out the side exit.
Friday, June 23 View Page
This is the 333 showing the polycarbonate screens that are in place for wind protection. They're easily movable and staked out with fencing pins. I move them every day so they always end up being about 1ft from the end of the vines. Development continues to be rapid on all fronts with 6-8" growth per day and female flowers developing on the secondaries, which I pinch off as well as tertiaries. Burying nodes takes a lot of time and it's only going to get worse! I'm still feeding with N but also some extra Ca and P as we're nearing the pollination stage which I expect to occur in the first week of July.
Sunday, June 25 View Page
Yes there is a female bud at the end of the main vine if you look closely, and it's probably the first flower upon which we will attempt pollination which will hopefully be in 1-2 weeks from now. It's on the 333 and about 12ft from the stump. The plant looks healthy, growing well with well-behaved secondaries. Feeding has been varied this past couple of weeks; among other things we use Azos, NPK RAW Grow, NPK RAW Phosphorus, Canna Terra Vega, Canna Rhizotonic, Calcium nitrate, Mg SO4 etc with a pH varying from 6.0 to 7.0 and an EC from 1.4 to 2.0. Next week will probably be the last of the main growing phase and we will direct nutrition more towards a bloom phase.
Monday, June 26 View Page
A view from under the 333 canopy. We have sun at the moment but rain is forecast later today and tomorrow. We haven't had any rain for about 2 weeks.
Monday, June 26 View Page
The 333 again, there is wind and rain forecast tomorrow so I hope there is enough protection here. The other plant is doing well as far as sheer growth is concerned but the secondaries are proving to be a struggle, they seem to go off in any direction other than perpendicular to the main. But it seems vigorous enough so I hope it will come good with a bit of stern training.
Tuesday, June 27 View Page
This is the transplanted pumpin which as you can see has greatly increased in size since transplant about 10 days ago. The leaves are big but a bit tatty due to wind damage and sun scorch. Side vines yet to grow properly but I am doing my best at training them. Feed is still firmly geared towards vegetative growth.
Thursday, June 29 View Page
Here's Oliver in the greenhouse, tomatoes on the left and canteloupe/cucamelons on the right. Right now they're flowering and beginning to fruit. I can't believe they have grown so much in just a couple of months. Perhaps it's because I've looked after them and treated them with some pumpkin goodies etc Azos, White Widow, Rhizotonic etc? I'm not counting on anything just yet, unless the fruit comes good it's all for nothing..!
Thursday, June 29 View Page
This is the 333 and after a couple of days of rain, which will have washed the soil somewhat, now is a good time to get started on feed for the flowering phase. I'll reduce the N and start to raise the P and K. We also have a mole that's making an appearance here and there, probably the same one as last year, I hope it doesn't want to make the pumpkin patch its permanent home!
Monday, July 3 View Page
At 13 feet out on the 333 main vine this likely looking female is the main contender. Feed is now based around BioBloom, Canna Terra Flores, Cannaboost, Canna Rhizotonic, NPK RAW Phosphorus & NPK RAW Bloom Microbes as well as the usual humic, yukka etc. Weather continues to be classic English summer - warm with a mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers.
Wednesday, July 5 View Page
I wasn't expecting the flower on the 333 to open for a few more days but there it is this morning ready and receptive. It's not opened particularly well and doesn't look very pretty, but the stigma is fully visible and so I self-pollinated it today with 3 male flowers as none are yet available on the other plant. If it doesn't take, there's another one a couple of feet further along on the main vine, and more on some of the side vines should it come to it.
Wednesday, July 5 View Page
The first female on the back up plant appeared this morning, it's about 10ft out on the main vine. With this one we're about 2 weeks behind in development compared to the 333.
Wednesday, July 5 View Page
333 pollinated, tied and ready to go. Now the fun really starts (I hope)
Wednesday, July 5 View Page
View of the 333 at dusk. We had some strong sun today which burned a few young leaves, but I managed to sneak out of work at 4pm so I could cool everything down with some spray. No major damage done, I hope. It is a concern for the days during the summer for when I won't be there, family holidays for instance.
Friday, July 7 View Page
Closeup of the 333 just a couple of days after pollination. It's still too early to see if it's worked, but the signs are promising. There are plenty of other options available for back ups, nearly all the side vines have female flowers now. The problem is deciding which ones to select, and how many. Soil pH today was 7.1 and EC 1.4 which is good, but could be better.
Monday, July 10 View Page
Sun damage on the 333. Not enough water, too much sun. About 30% of the new leaves are affected. I'll cut the worst of them off and if possible allow some tertiary vines to take their place.
Monday, July 10 View Page
It looks like the 333 has taken, now to train it away from the vine! It started out in a promising position but now it wants to grow along the same path as the vine. Getting it on track will require some patient and gentle coaxing over the next week or two.
Tuesday, July 11 View Page
The 333 on the main vine 5 DAP. It's beginning to move away from the vine, slowly but surely. It also has a long stem, which will help now and in the future.
Tuesday, July 11 View Page
Ariel view of the plot showing the transplanted plant. I really must think of a proper name for it soon. As you can see, some of the leaves are very large, but there are a lot of gaps. At the far right, just out of picture, I pollinated a promising looking female about 10 feet out using pollen from the 333.
Wednesday, July 12 View Page
View of the 333 which is now starting to get too big for the plot so I've terminated some of the side vines. The pumpkin is doing ok and increasing in size steadily, it's hiding under the plastic chair. We had 20l rain per sq m over the past 24 hours, which was well overdue as it hasn't otherwise rained here for about 3 weeks or so.
Wednesday, July 12 View Page
Here is a lovely looking 333 flower about 10 feet out on a side vine which I pollinated today using transplant pollen. This will be a backup in case the pumpkin on the main vine fails.
Wednesday, July 12 View Page
Side vine pollination on the transplant just 2 DAP. The main vine has yet to grow a female at the right distance, but I think that will change in the next day or two.
Friday, July 14 View Page
Here is the transplant patch today, it's starting to fill out a bit more, so I'm reasonably happy given the circumstances. The leaves are larger than the 333. The female at the end of the main vine won't be ready to pollinate for about a week yet, but there's one on a side vine top right of the picture.
Friday, July 14 View Page
And here it is 3DAP. Hopefully it's taken but it's too early to be sure.
Friday, July 14 View Page
Here's an example of what you can expect when you use the Paton method of vine burying!
Friday, July 14 View Page
The 333 at 9 DAP. A bit lopsided perhaps but I'm not too bothered.
Saturday, July 15 View Page
The 333 at 10DAP. I managed to nick it with a fingernail so that's some sulphur powder you can see on top. Underneath is cat litter, the non-clumping expanded clay type. Many of us cactus growers use it in cactus compost, it acts as drainage and it absorbs water. We use it instead sand because it's lighter, doesn't clump, it's non abrasive, pH neutral and drains more freely. I think it will work well under the pumpkin for the same reasons. Recent weather has been cloudy with light showers and the forecast looks the same.
Monday, July 17 View Page
333 at 12 DAP. Weather forecast is sunny today and favourable for the rest of the week. I'll send off for a soil test today so I can check on the P and the K, I don't want to overdo the K as last year we had a lack of Mg.
Monday, July 17 View Page
Backup on the 333 at 5 DAP looks like it's taken.
Monday, July 17 View Page
This is the first pollination on the transplant at 5DAP. It's a side vine coming from the stump. We've did another pollination on another side vine yesterday, the female on the main vine that's about 12 feet out should possibly open tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 18 View Page
Pumpkin patch this morning. The 333 is at the top of the picture and the transplant at the bottom. Both plants are starting to interfere with each other now so I'm terminating the vines before it becomes a tangled mess. Next year I will only grow one plant on this patch, it's just not big enough for two.
Tuesday, July 18 View Page
333 at 13DAP. Note the slug at the top right, dehydrated and debilitated due to the cat litter. Another cat litter bonus I hadn't thought of :)
Tuesday, July 18 View Page
Transplant side vine pumpkin at 10DAP. This morning I pollinated the female 12 feet out on the main vine with the 333, that will hopefully be the last pollination this season, better late than never.
Tuesday, July 18 View Page
A simple solution to the problem of getting water & feed into the middle of the plant area, without treading on soil & vines!
Wednesday, July 19 View Page
333 at 14DAP - although it's sat under a chair, the cat litter was useful soaking up some of the rain last night. We had thunderstorms bringing 2l per sq m.
Wednesday, July 19 View Page
333 side vine back up at 7 DAP
Wednesday, July 19 View Page
Transplant first pollination at 9 DAP
Thursday, July 20 View Page
333 at 15DAP, we had 3l per sq m rain last night, quite cold too but forecast to clear up today. I need to get this set on a permanent base soon before it gets too cumbersome.
Thursday, July 20 View Page
333 at 15 DAP - new base required asap
Thursday, July 20 View Page
Soil analysis came in today, lots of everything in there, now we just need some sun, warmth & water to provide the means to take it all up. Water isn't a problem but sun and warmth are out of our control.
Friday, July 21 View Page
333 patch this morning, sun and clouds forecast today though it's a bit too windy for my liking. Most of the growing has now finished with (nearly all) tertiary vines removed and secondaries terminated. Total growing area is almost 400 sq feet. Next year I'll just have just one plant growing in this patch rather than two so I can make full use of the 600 sq feet available.


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