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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 194 Entries.
Tuesday, March 12 View Page
Our pumpkin patch this morning. That snow is over a foot deep and the consistency of a glacier, having been rained on and frozen. It has been hard on the hoop house I left up over winter for our early state fair pumpkin. It had a lot of leaves in it, and bags of wood mulch around the outside, so hopefully the frost didn't go too deep. Forecast for the next 2 days is highs in the 50's and 1" to 2" of rain, so most of the snow should be gone soon. Just as soon as the snow leaves, the hoops will get new plastic, and the ground around the hoops will get some clear plastic flat on the ground to warm things up. My daughter is teaming with me on this project and we will be growing a 1200 Engel here.
 
Thursday, March 28 View Page
I got new plastic put on the state fair hoops a week ago to start warming things up. In a few days I will take it off, till it up again with the fork and, put the plastic back on.
 
Thursday, March 28 View Page
2 watermelon hoops. I added compost, potting soil and sand last fall. It tilled up nicely with the fork. Plastic will go on as soon as weather permits.
 
Thursday, March 28 View Page
One of the pumpkin hoops. Soil is real mellow and full of grey angle worms and a few night crawlers. This spot was sweet corn and then mustard last year. I was also able to rake up and burn some pumpkin vines on other plot. More will have to be burned, but rain is coming in tonight.
 
Thursday, March 28 View Page
Jacob and I spent a few minutes looking for antler sheds and found these. We searched less than half of our acreage. I hope we find some across the creek. Bad thing was that I found remains of 2 small deer. It looked like they had been hit in the road and managed to make it a few yards down hill. At least they made meals for the coyotes.
 
Thursday, March 28 View Page
This is the photo I should have posted with entry 2
 
Monday, April 1 View Page
Windy day, but I took the plastic off the state fair hoop and tilled up the soil. Nice and mellow and full of worms. The 2 watermelon hoop houses will be connected and extended to make a 16' X 6' long enclosure for starting 3 plants. All of the hoops are now up with the soil tilled up. If weather permits, I will get the plastic put on tomorrow to start warming up the soil. Last chore before bed time will be starting the watermenon seeds.
 
Wednesday, April 3 View Page
I got the plastic on the pumpkin hoops yesterday. Today I got the plastic on the 6' X 18' long watermelon hoop house. Jacob and I decided to put 2 bushel gourds in the main garden. Last year the groundhogs got them but they will be well protected by the electric fence this year. We are only growing 4 Atlantic Giants this year, and one will be an early plant for the state fair. Hopefully we get at least 2 for the fall weigh-offs in Bloomfield and Anamosa.
 
Sunday, April 7 View Page
We are going to do things a little different for the field pumpkins this year. Last year we planted too early and lost some real nice ones that rotted before the weigh-offs. Also, We didn't do early tillage except for the planting sites. Then we tilled with the fork ahead of the growing vines. We also added mulch to try to hold down weeds and protect pumpkins from the soil. This year we will get our workouts with the fork and till up the whole area early. I bought some annual ryegrass and dwarf Essex rape seed and will seed a cover crop on all but the planting sites. Just broadcast it and throw on some compost so the rains can work things in. When the field pumpkins are getting ready to vine out in June, we will cover them with buckets and I will spray the whole patch with glyphosate. Hopefully this will hold down the weeds and grow most of our mulch right in place. And we will do a better job of vine pruning. Hopefully we can break the 100# barrier this year. Last year was close.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
This photo and the next show why I love my garden's silty soil. This is a 3' x 4' spot that I dug up with my 5 time pitchfork. Even though it is plenty wet, it is nice and mellow and fill of worms. Ans with sand subsoil, it drains out fairly well. I still dug drainage ditches and raised growing beds for better drainage.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
This is the same spot after I smacked the clods 1 times with the tines of the fork. Any clods that are left mellow out with the next rain. This method is easy on the worms, and the soil is full of them. Far more worms in the garden that in the timber right next to it. That type pf fork is not meant for digging soil, but it works in this soft soil, and it is much easier on my arthritic back that the short handled spading forks.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
Yesterday I brought home a truck load of compost and Jacob unloaded and hauled it around. Then I tilled up the field pumpkin patch with the fork and seeded annual ryegrass and rape for a cover crop. Clouds are already moving in ahead of the big storm. We are only supposed to get rain here, but it should work the seed into the soil and get it growing. I just wish I had a hot tub. That is too much work for an old guy. Jacob gets the next turn at the fork.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
The 6' x 18' hoop house for the watermelons. Jacob put piles of compost around it and I spread them out. After a few weeks of rains leaching the goodies out of the compost and into the soil, we will till it in.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
A buck ripped up this tree just 20' from the field pumpkins last fall. Deer, coons, groundhogs, rabbits, muskrats and other critters are why we need an electric fence.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
I found an error on entry 11. I smacked the clods 12 times, once per square foot.
 
Thursday, April 11 View Page
High winds took the plastic off the watermelon tunnel. It is just rolled up on one side, held down by the soil on the edge. Maybe the wind will calm down some tomorrow. I will put on more clips and more soil at the bottom. It is really muddy in the garden as well.
 
Saturday, April 13 View Page
I got the hoop houses repaired by Friday noon, and they held up well in the wind. No ripped plastic, just a few clips popped off and hoops popped off the rebar stakes. I changed how I attacked the support lines on the ends so they hold the hoops down better. Also added more dirt on the edges of the plastic. 3 watermelon seeds have been up for about a week, and 2 early fair pumpkins are up. Better success at keeping watermelon seedlings from getting so long and leggy.
 
Monday, April 15 View Page
Time to start more seeds. The 1047 that I started for the early plant is doing OK, but the 1200 Engel is not. Cots came out great but next 2 leaves are tiny and fizzling out. But I have more 1200 seeds so more will get started. For big but not necessarily pretty pumpkins, we will have 2 plants. I will be starting a 2091 Midthun (1781 Zywiec X self) 1239 Benson/Witter (2145 McMullen x self) 1587.5 Caspers (2145 x 2624.6 Willemijns) and 1442.5 Caspers (2363 x 1587.5) We will see which ones are the keepers later. Also will be starting long gourd seeds, when I decide which ones to plant. And 265 Engel and 279 English bushel gourds. Weather is looking up, with most of the next week forecast for the 60's. The hoop houses need continual attention with all the wind we have been getting.
 
Wednesday, April 17 View Page
I transferred 3 watermelon plants from peat pots to 1 gallon plastic pots. They are doing much better that any watermelons I have ever grown. 2 of the 257.5 Barlows and one of my personal best 115, which is 2 generations of selfing a 260 Clements. I couldn't find the 279 English seed I thought I had, so I started 2 71.5"s that are sib pollinated 279s. I also started a 260.5 Engel. Jacob hauled a bunch of compost to the bushel gourd spot, so we are giving them a good shot this year. I picked out 5 long gourd seeds to start out with. 121.5 Muis, 123.88 Vander Wielen128.88 and 134.75 Fleser, and 133 Eaton. We have spots for 4 gourds and will do some heavy duty pruning on them. We had our best gourds the year the patch flooded and the vines weren't so thick.
 
Thursday, April 18 View Page
Our early mustard plots have all been seeded. Just broadcast on the surface without tillage. The rain we got this evening should get it growing. I saved a little bit of seed for one spot that will go to sweet corn first. Most of the AG areas has rape and radish seeded for a cover crop to try to help with diseases. We will keep it tilled under ahead of the growing vines.
 
Friday, April 26 View Page
I transferred seedlings to gallon pots yesterday. I was planning on putting them out soon, but weather forecast changed. We are now on the edge of where Saturday's rain is forecast to change to snow. Farther north thy are predicting 3 to 7 inches of heavy wet snow. Maybe by Tuesday we can get to planting.
 
Saturday, April 27 View Page
11"45 AM, temperature has dropped 3 degrees in the last half hour. Now just 33 degrees. The rain is now mixed with snow and sleet. This is the latest snow I have seen in my 65 years. If this global warming doesn't let up we will freeze to death. All the plants are in the house under lights. It will be several days before some can go to the hoop houses. No hoops for the long and bushel gourds, so they will have to grow in pots a little longer.
 
Friday, May 3 View Page
Mustard crop growing great. No tillage, just broadcast seed and let the rain work it in. 3 spots planted to mustard for next year's pumpkins.
 
Friday, May 3 View Page
Rape and ryegrass cover for the field pumpkins is growing. I recently got a bag of cereal rye. I will broadcast some tomorrow and hopefully I will get a month of growth before I spray it.
 
Friday, May 3 View Page
I piled up some compost to mix with soil for burying vines. Deer have been getting in the patch and left tracks. I need to get the electric fence turned on soon. Hopefully tomorrow is planting day for the Atlantic Giants.
 
Friday, May 3 View Page
I hope this keeps the rabbits and groundhogs out. 4 hot wires down low with plastic baler twine lines include. I hope the twine forces the critters into the hot wires. The wire on the black insulator is at the height of a deer nose. There ate 2 more strands of baler twine to discourage deer from jumping. I have all of the electric wires in place, just need to string more baler twine.
 
Saturday, May 4 View Page
4 hoop houses planted, 2 pumpkin plants per house. Worm castings, Pumpkin Pro and 2 WOW starter packs per plant. Before dark we will plant 3 watermelons and water everything with warm water. Was nice to have Jacob get down on the ground for me. It is tough enough with a knee replacement, and now I have a hip getting bad.
 
Sunday, May 5 View Page
Planted the watermelons myself this afternoon. Soil in the hoop house was nice nd warm to the touch, outside it is still cool. I broadcast some cereal rye to fill in bare spots on the field pumpkin cover crop. Got a nice little rain, so it should take off and grow.
 
Friday, May 10 View Page
Frost. I went outside at 6:30 and found frost on the vehicles by the house. Temperature at the Monticello airport 12 miles to the north had dropped to 36. The sky had cleared and the wind stopped, so it got even colder in the valley. I walked down to the garden and found a little bit of frost on the outside of the hoop houses, but just water condensation on the inside. All but one of the plants in the hoops had extra covers, but even the uncovered plant survived. This seems to happen every year. I'm glad I didn't have any tomatoes in the ground. Maybe by Monday they will get planted.
 
Saturday, May 11 View Page
Weather man keeps predicting sun and warmth. Today is clouds, drizzle, mid 50's. Watered plants in the hoops with warm water. They need sun and warmth. Still looking for overnight lows of 39 to 41 for the next few days. Gourds are being kept in pots in a small hoop house near the house until the weather warms up.
 
Tuesday, May 14 View Page
We started the field pumpkins this afternoon. 2 of the 146 Fleser (211 Mackinnon x 181 Mackinnon) Michigan state record 2 of the 119 Barlow Jacobus (175 Wagler x open) 1 189 Crews (158Crews x self) and 2 of my personal best 97 McWilliams (87 McWilliams x open) We are starting 12 days later than last year, when we had some mature too fast and rot. With the cold weather this year, the soil still needs to warm up a lot. This morning Jacob and I went fishing and caught 16 nice crappies. I buried the remains for 3 long gourd plants. I also tilled up 30 inch planting spots in the cover crop for the field pumpkins while Jacob planted 25 tomato plants. We want that soil to start warming up. Looks like starting tomorrow that might happen.
 
Sunday, May 19 View Page
The garden is really wet, but it is dry in the hoop houses. I rolled back the plastic on the watermelon hoop, hoed out the weeds and put down the weed fabric. I pinned it down with wire staples, added some compost and then a thin layer of wood mulch. The area outside the hoops has not been tilled yet, so I could work without messing anything up. The watermelons are looking better than ever at this time of the year. Tomorrow, Jacob and I will set out the long and bushel gourds. And we need to put the field pumpkin seedlings into bigger pots. Roots are coming through the 5" peat pots already. I hope to get some photos tomorrow.
 
Monday, May 20 View Page
Was going to plant gourds today, but it is cloudy and only 57 degrees. tomorrow is supposed to be 54, rainy and high winds. But the next 6 days after that are supposed to be mid to upper 70's. So we will wait until Wednesday to set the gourds in the ground.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
Gourd planting day, finally. 265 Engel is planted in the background. Each plant gets a WOW starter back, and a 50-50 mix of WOW Pumpkin Pro and Jibes Organics all purpose mixed into the hole and backfill soil.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
Something I am trying with the gourd plants this year. A 3' x 3' piece of weed fabric and wood mulch to hold down the weeds around the crown of the plant. I might try this on some field pumpkins too.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
One of the long gourd plants. They start out climbing a tomato basket to get up to the trellis.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
Cover crop of dwarf Essex rape, annual ryegrass and cereal rye in the field pumpkin patch. I enlarged the planting sites to a 5' circle. Tilled with just a pitchfork. The soil is nice and crumbly, even with all of the rain. I hope to get at least 2 weeks more growth before I spray it. Next year this will be a big mustard patch.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
One of our sweet corn plots. I went to start the 2 year old mini tiller, and found that the gas lines had rotted. Cheap foreign junk. This plot will get notill planted, since weed control is great. The other plots will get strip tilled, if I can find replacement gas lines.
 
Friday, May 24 View Page
Heavy rain last night and this morning. The creek is running high and muddy. More heavy rain is due tonight. We don't need it.
 
Friday, May 24 View Page
11 weeks until the state fair, and these are our potential candidates. 1200 Engel on the left, 104.5 McWilliams on the right. The 1047.5 is just about on the ground and running, the 1200 has been behind since germination. We will a while before deciding which one to keep. We do have the possibility of keeping both, taking the first one to the fair, pulling the plant and letting the other one grow another 2 months. My daughter is helping with this one and will have a say in the final decision. Of course the weather could just wipe them out too.
 
Friday, May 24 View Page
1587.5 Caspers on the left, 1442.5 Caspers on the right. Looks like the decision on which one to keep will be easy.
 
Friday, May 24 View Page
Water standing in a corner of one of the sweet corn patches. Nothing planted yet. The soil is just now getting warm enough. I learned not to rush sweet corn. All you do is end up replanting.
 
Friday, May 24 View Page
One of the mustard plots looking great. After it is tilled under, it will get a fall crop of daikon radishes and rape. Really trying to knock out disease problems.
 
Tuesday, May 28 View Page
More rain, not supposed to stop until Friday May 31. This season is shaping up like 2008. Cold and wet. I checked my old diary and found that both Jacob and I grew personal best Atlantic Giants that year. I even made the top 10 at the Ryan Norlin weighoff in Anamosa for the first time, beat 21 other pumpkins. So we remain hopeful. Field pumpkins will have to remain in the pots a few more days. I think I will have to spray some of the cover crop close to them before planting. I don't want to take a chance of hitting them with spray drift.
 
Saturday, June 1 View Page
Jacob and I planted our competition field pumpkins this evening. I had sprayed the cover crop earlier in the day. We set out our peppers, planted the backup bushel gourd because it looked like the rabbit took out the growing point on the one it damaged. We planted our backup long gourd where it can grow up a crabapple tree. Our first planting of sweetcorn emerged yesterday, and I mudded in our second planting. I hope to get our final sweetcorn planted early next week.
 
Saturday, June 1 View Page
Made the first culling decision. The 1587.5 Caspers was the runt of the fall plants and was still growing straight up. The 1442.5 Caspers next to it was the beast of the fall plants. It started growing 180 degrees opposite of the direction we wanted and then turned to go where we wanted it. And it was getting into the 1587.5. So that hoop house is down to one plant. I made the first harvest of the year, radishes and green onions. Since they grew under cold conditions, they are very mild.
 
Tuesday, June 4 View Page
I plugged in the electric fence, one day too late. A groundhog got in. We now have one giant pumpkin that will not have a secondary trained into a new main. I found the 119 Barlow-Jacobus field pumpkin had rotted off at ground level. I had a replacement until I picked it up from the box it was in and it snapped off. But I had a 146 Fleser in a pot, so we now have 2 of those in the patch. My chore for tonight is making sure the new scope on my .22 magnum is zeroed in. Groundhog season is open year round in Iowa.
 
Saturday, June 8 View Page
The first 146 Fleser field pumpkin we planted rotted off at ground level. Looked like damping off, something I have never seen on a pumpkin that big. Since all the backups are used up, I set 2 of my 97 seeds directly in the ground. They matured too quickly so maybe this will still grow a good pumpkin by October.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Time to cut the mustard. First of 3 early mustard patches.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Mustard mowed, ready to be tilled under. With 2 of us working with our own pitchfork, it didn't take too long.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
After we turned it over with the pitchforks, I ran over it with the mower to pack it down. Last year when I did it this way, I checked and the compaction didn't go as deep as you would think. I still have to water it down. It is drier than last year, when it was like packing mud and I didn't bother watering. By the end of the month, I will spray the weeds that start coming up, then plant Daikon radish and dwarf Essex rape. 2 ,ore brassica crops that fight disease.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
2 more mustard patches beyond the watermelon hoop house. Both were planted with WOW mustard seed, no soil preparation other than burning off the weeds, vines and leaves from last fall. I just broadcast the mustard on the ground and it grew like crazy, close to 5' tall.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
The watermelon plants are thriving in the hoop house. 257.5 Barlow's on the ends, my 115 in the middle.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Some (epletive deleted) critter munched on a couple of the long gourds. Electric fence with the extra hot wire didn't stop it. And the baler twine lines I added were just chewed though. There mist be a short in a wire somewhere. My wife Lu Ann found some Liquid Fence repellent at the landfill swap shop, a $40 bottle for free. I applied some yesterday evening and have enough left for 3 more applications.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Field pumpkin cover crop got a good kill, only a couple small spots that need to be sprayed again.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Sweetcorn was hoed and mulched with grass clippings. Jacob needs to hand weed it and then I will add more mulch. It was notill planted. Once the corn is done, it will be mowed and planted to mustard.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
2091 Midthun on the left was a ribbon vine. The critter that attacked it ate off almost all of the secondary buds. The 1239 Witter-Benson on the right has a secondary that is taking over as a new main, so that will be the keeper.
 
Monday, June 10 View Page
Between 2 PM when we finished up with the mustard chore and 8:30 PM when I went to check on things, something chomped off the end of the main on the 1442.5 Caspers. Our last undamaged giant. So if we manage to get a pumpkin this year, it will have to grow on a secondary. I guess I have to do more checking on the electric fence tomorrow, run another hot wire, and sit down in the garden with my rifle to pick off any critters. But there is a bright side. The local TV station showed the tracks of 3 tornadoes from yesterday's storm. One was an EF-0 that touched down less than a mile from our house. If it had dropped down just a little farther to the north, we wouldn't have any garden to worry about.
 
Friday, June 14 View Page
We are losing the battle with the critters. State fair and orange giants are almost gone. All of the big pumpkins have been chewed, only the Caspers plant has much of a chance, and it is puny from the cold weather. They started hitting the field pumpkins. They have chewed the long gourds and then the brown rust has gotten bad. I spent most of the day working on the electric fence, and we have chicken wire around some of the plants. Last night I even took all of the cat litter box mess my daughter has been saving for me and spread that along the fence. Maybe we can salvage something, but I am not optimistic. This is the 34th gardening season on our acreage and it is the worst critter damage by a whole lot.
 
Monday, June 17 View Page
I spent a lot of time today on the electric fence, and the bottom 2 wires still seem to be shorted out. I set 2 more low lines outside the main fence, so I have some juice flowing. Next dry day I will re-string those wires and add another one. My goal is to have 2 hot wires set about 8" outside the main fence, then 4 more hot wires on the main fence. Hopefully that will be enough to stop the rabbits. I hope to have one giant pollinated shortly after the 4th of July and some more later in July. Not ideal, but it is what we have to deal with this year.
 
Tuesday, June 18 View Page
I got 2 more electric fence wires working and added another one on about a fourth of the garden. Good thing because damage continues. One of the bushel gourds grew through the woven temporary fence and a critter ate the end of the main vine off. Something got into the watermelon tunnel and chewed 2 vines off one plant. I sprayed more repellent this evening, hoping something works. I pulled the 2091 Midthun, as the rabbits ate all of the secondaries off the ribbon main vine. The 1239 Witter-Benson next to it has a secondary taking off to replace the main and several more secondaries spreading out. One of the field pumpkin seeds I direct seeded has sprouted. I hope the critters leave it alone. Jacob weeded and mulched the sweet corn and helped me with the watermelons. At least the corn is doing OK.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
The good part of the garden. First sweet corn planting is looking good. Jacob hand weeded close to plants and added new grass mulch. I came by yesterday with glyphosate and hit the weeds between the rows and around the edges. It is behind normal because of late planting. It took until late May for the soil to warm up. I learned my lesson about planting in cold soil; you end up planting it again.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
1442.5 Caspers is finally looking better. Got a secondary to take over as new main. Buried vines, fertilized with some Walmart organic flower fertilizer and a small shot of Miracle Gro.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
1238 Witter-Benson is looking better. We will let some tertiary vines grow to fill in were the critters ate off the chewed off.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
This would be bad if it were 1 plant, but it is 2 1200 Engel plants. Each one has at least one secondary or tertiary vine surviving. Instead of 1 plant in 900 sq ft, we will grow 2 in 450 sq ft each. Maybe we might have a chance at a HD contender, if nothing else goes wrong.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
State fair is out of the question now. 1047.5 McWilliams on left. 1200 Engel on the right. Again the critters left one secondary vine on each side. We will grow them both out to try to preserve the genetics.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
97 McWilliams that didn't get chewed, is growing in wrong direction. We will gently train it with the fiberglass posts.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
97 McWilliams field pumpkin that got damaged. It is recovering, buy a little yellow. I think the plastic I used to protect it cut down too much sunlight.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
146 Fleser field pumpkin likes to split the main vine. We will just let it go and see what happens.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
189 Crews is doing OK. We need better weather. Cloudy and cool this morning with a storm coming. They are warning about 50 mph winds.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
Youngest 97 McWilliams gas first true leaf. We will see what happens with this one.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
Watermelons are about to break out of the hoop house.
 
Friday, June 21 View Page
Watermelon on this end lost about a third of the plant to a critter. The new and improved electric fence seems to be working, so the hoop will come down soon. Maybe more sunlight will help. We should have some better heat coming. They don't like 70's in the day, 50's at night.
 
Tuesday, June 25 View Page
Saw the first 2 bugs of the season, a squash bug and an adult squash vine borer as I was spraying Merit. The electric fence shorted out and a ground hog had gotten in. Ate must of the growing buds on a bushel gourd, ate some parts of the long gourds. It snipped off another watermelon vine but didn't eat that. I sprayed more repellent, found one spot where a wire was on the ground but it still is shorted out. Usually I can hear it snapping, but not now. I found a groundhog by the fence, but he took off before I could get good aim with my revolver. I hope the gunshot at least scared him off.
 
Saturday, June 29 View Page
91 degrees today, but no real bad leaf burn on the pumpkins. We let one female on the 1442.5 Caspers go unpollinated 2 days ago, but it was on a secondary less than 5' from the stump. We have about 10' out on the new main that might open in a couple days. The Witter-Benson pumpkin plant is recovering and we are burying vines. Our orange plants are just creeping along. I have heard my neighbor shoot his .22 a couple times, so I hope he is picking off the groundhogs that are bothering both of us.
 
Tuesday, July 2 View Page
We had a 4 lobe open on the new main of the Caspers plant about 10' out, and another one with messed up lobes on a secondary. I self pollinated them but did not tie them shut. Temperature will get close to 90, I have poor pollination success in this kind of heat and I didn't like the position of the flowers. We will have one open 4' farther out in 2 or 3 days when it is supposed to be cooler. We will have ice and Styrofoam coolers ready for it.
 
Tuesday, July 2 View Page
I saw the first Japanese beetles on the field pumpkin plants. I need to check out my arsenal of insecticides and find one that will take out those bugs.
 
Sunday, July 7 View Page
We got a break in the weather. Cooler, lower humidity, sunny, light breeze. And we had our first good pollination. A nice 5 lobe, 14' out on the replacement main on the 1442.5 Caspers. And it looks like we will get one tomorrow on the 1239 Witter-Benson. Those plants are actually taking the preferred Christmas tree form. Our orange pumpkins are sending vines out all over, hard to tell what to use as a main on them at this point.
 
Monday, July 8 View Page
Pollinated 5 lobe females on the 1293.5 Witter-Benson. One 14' out on the replacement main, one on a secondary. I used 1200 Engle males. Should be an interesting cross. The 1293.5 is a self-pollinated 2145 McMullen and was 18% heavy. The 1200 has a 1912 Carter genetics and he great orange color. I am hoping to combine big and heavy with big and orange. Also had a 5 lobe open on the 1442.5 Caspers and self pollinated that one. Now it looks like we are in for an extended dry spell. Good thing we are getting a new pressure tank installed on our well today, because we may need to start watering.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
My first sweetcorn plot is now taller than me, tasseling and silking. Won't be long now until we have fresh corn. Hard to believe, but the big storm that ripped up Pete Caspers' greenhouse also flattened 3/4 of this corn. But it is tough and straightened up on its own.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
This patch of tomatoes is doing great. Some plants are over ' tal. The pole beans were replanted after the rabbits ate them. I will have to fence them.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
Tomatoes in last photo are pushing 6' tall. These aren't doing as well. They look likethey are drying up. I have been watering them like crazy and they seem a little better. It might be because the trees in the background are walnuts.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
1442 Caspers is doing much better. I will have to make culling decisions soon.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
4 sheets of dirty plastic film shade this watermelon in the afternoon. I have it off the ground on a wire rack. I need to get some white fabric to protect it better. We have some other melons growing too.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
1293 Witter Benson is coming along. I am using some tertiary vines to fill in where the critters ate secondaries. I saw another adult SVB and some cucumber beetles this morning. Bugs have been scarce, just one shot of Merit and Sevin has been used so far. This evening after the bees are gone I will give them another shot of Merit and water it in. As hot and dry as the weather is, the plants should suck it up fast. After watering I will give them a shot of bifenthrin insecticide and mancozeb fungicide.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
This was supposed to be our state fair pumpkin. We got the first pollination yesterday, so we won't have anything for the first week of August.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
We left both 1200 Engel plants grow after groundhog attack, and have 3 new main vines. So one plant will have 2 pumpkins. They won't be huge, but they should be orange and hopefully have good shape.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
Some of the field pumpkins. The small one is the one I direct seeded in June. The rape/ryegrass cover crop has deteriorated and weeds are starting. Jacob did a good job hoeing weeds around the electric fence, ao he will get to hoe these weeds.
 
Monday, July 15 View Page
Here is the electric fence set-up. 2 low wires on the outside, then 4 low wires on the main fence. One more hot wire and 2 higher baler twine lines to deter the deer. It is stopping the deer, coons and groundhogs, but rabbits run right through it.
 
Tuesday, July 16 View Page
It was too breezy last evening to use fine spray of fungicide and contact insecticide. But since Merit (tree and shrub) is soil applied and watered in, I set my sprayer for a coarse pattern and got that done. Now we have rain coming in, so no sense having stuff washed off. I hope we get good rain, as it is very dry, and heat index for the next few days is supposed to be 100 to 110.
 
Tuesday, July 23 View Page
Went out to the garden just before noon and saw a couple vines on the 1442 Caspers wilting. I saw similar on most of the giants and a couple field pumpkins. It was below 60 degrees. bet very sunny and dry. No good rain in 3 weeks, so I need to water some more.
 
Tuesday, July 23 View Page
This looks better, our best watermelon. Taped 135", 73.5 pounds by the chart. With 74 days until Anamosa Pumpkinfest, This should easily break my personal best of 115 pounds, If we keep it healthy and safe from critters. I credit my extensive soil preparation and the extra long hoop house for getting it through the cold spring.
 
Tuesday, July 23 View Page
Our second best watermelon. No measurements but I guess it to be well over 60 pounds. That is a half liter Pepsi bottle in the pictures for size comparison.
 
Tuesday, July 23 View Page
On entry 91 I meant to say below 60 degrees in the morning, below 80 degrees at noon.
 
Wednesday, July 24 View Page
Rough day for pumpkins. The end of the replacement main on the 1293 was getting a sickly color and all of the pumpkins on it aborted. Fearing disease, I cut it off and found multiple vine borers. Evidently the insecticide failed here like it did on one field pumpkin. We have one set on a back secondary about basketball size, so we will go with that. The pumpkin on the replacement main of the Caspers plant aborted at just over basketball size. We lost one on that vine a couple days ago, but we have one around 100# on a back secondary we will keep. I need to do some work to keeping it from turning into a birdbath, The fruits on this plant are all wheel shape. On the bright side, we have a great shaped volley ball size pumpkin on the 1047.5 and a few that might take hold on the 1200 Engel plants. And the watermelons are looking great. They need some weeding where they grew off the weed fabric.
 
Monday, July 29 View Page
Our best watermelon measured 148", 95# today. That is a 21.5# gain in 6 days. Not too bad. In another 6 days it should beat my personal best. I hope it can keep this up through August and I might have a chance at breaking 200#. The foxtail is growing through gaps in the weed fabric. I am afraid it will pack the soil too much or damage roots pulling it, so I guess I will let it grow. I can always add extra water and fertilizer to make up for what it takes.
 
Monday, July 29 View Page
Pumpkin on the 1047.5 McWilliams, crossed with the 1200 Engel. Jacob helped me get weed fabric and sand under it. It looks like it might be getting a white spot under the blossom, but I hope it is just the light. That is how all of our other aborts went bad in the past 10 days.
 
Monday, July 29 View Page
Our best pumpkin is this pathetic little wheel on the 1442,5 Caspers. 27 days old. We didn't plan on keeping this one, but everything else aborted. I didn't measure it, figured it would just depress me. Last year at this time we had one measuring over 700#.
 
Tuesday, July 30 View Page
The blossom end of the 1047.5 is getting soft, so it is done. I blame the past heat wave. No sign of disease, the plant looks healthy, and this spot was in mustard followed by Daikon radish last year. Bugs seem to be under control and no sign of PM yet.
 
Sunday, August 4 View Page
Our 1442 Caspers this evening. Not growing very fast and turning orange. I had just taken measurements when Jacob came down to help, and I forgot to write them down. One if the 1200 Engle's has finally got one set and growing. I chase rabbit away, and it had been chewing on a small pumpkin close by. They ate off my pole beans for the second time this year. They may soon be eating lead.
 
Sunday, August 4 View Page
All of our watermelons are pollinated by bees and we just started seeing the little melons show up after the 4th of July. So they are now about a month old. This one measures 135", 73.5#.
 
Sunday, August 4 View Page
This one measures 137", 76.5#. This is what we used to have by October 1.
 
Sunday, August 4 View Page
Our biggest measures 157", 111#. Seems to have slowed down some, 16# in 6 days. But I am not complaining. Might just be a difference in where I measured.
 
Monday, August 5 View Page
I pulled 2 of the 1200 Engel plants today. Pumpkins aborting, a couple vine borers, possibly some disease issues, and the continuing hot dry weather. The 1047 may be the next to go. The pumpkin I thought was going to take off aborted. It has some funky looking leaves. If couple of volleyball size pumpkins don't take off, I will pull it and plant brassica cover crop. The remaining 1200 does have a nice pumpkin going and it will get intensive care. We have strong storms coming in. Hopefully it has good rain by the time it gets here. It is coming from a direction where the hills and trees will hopefully slow the wind.
 
Thursday, August 8 View Page
I was in the garden around noon today. I heard a chewing sound and saw a groundhog sitting up eating a nice, green tomato. He waited until I had my gun almost on target before he took off. The electric fence and coyote urine didn't stop him. I bought a "live" trap a couple hours later. I wouldn't want to hurt any neighbor's pet that might get caught. Mr. groundhog may survive the release, if he can run faster than 1400 feet per second. I won't dump my problem on someone else.
 
Friday, August 9 View Page
While the Iowa State Fair pumpkin weighoff was going on, I was preparing a spot for next year's fair pumpkin. I moved the spot for the hoop house, tilled in some compost on a 10 x 10 area and seeded a mixed brassica cover crop. Congrats to Don Young and Pete Caspers for their first and second place pumpkins. I measured our biggest pumpkin, a puny 178#. Pathetic for 38 DAP. But considering we lost the main to a groundhog, terribly cold May and most of June, then excessive heat and no rain, we ae lucky to have anything. Watermelons are a different story. The 3 largest measured 86.5.88 and 127 pounds. That is 3.2 pounds per day for the biggest, 2.9# per day for the next, and 2# per day for the 3rd. With 49 days to go until Bloomfield Pumpkin Bash and 56 days until Anamosa Pumpkinfest, we have time to make a run at the state record. I just hope I can keep them healthy until then.
 
Sunday, August 11 View Page
One less groundhog to worry about. But Jacob and I saw one on the neighbor's side of the fence, and we had another one hit a culled pumpkin and some tomatoes on the other side of the garden. This was a whole lot easier when we had mountain lions in the area. They kept the ground hog population down. But we haven't seen one in a couple years,
 
Tuesday, August 13 View Page
Only got 0.2" of rain yesterday, will have to water tomorrow. The 1442 Caspers gained 40# in last 4 days, up to a whopping 218#.We have one bee pollinated pumpkin on the remaining 1200 Engel, about day 20 measuring 157#. So far it is white, no sign of orange yet. The big watermelon sees to have slowed down a bit, 9# in 4 days at 136#. The next one sped up, gained 13# in 4 days at 101#. Another taped 9#, just one per day, and another got its first measurement at 69#. Long gourds are growing, and we need to cull out a couple.
 
Sunday, August 18 View Page
The Caspers pumpkin seems to have stopped growing. The 1200 Engel gained 82# in the last 5 days, 239# @ DAP 25. Biggest watermelon taped 149#, 2.6# per day. I hope it keeps that up. The next watermelon taped 115#. 2.8# per day. 40 growing days until Bloomfield Pumpkin Bash, 47 until Anamosa Pumpkinfest. We are foliar feeding and adding a little fertilizer with the water so we hope they keep growing. We have some warmer weather coming and maybe that will speed up growth.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
I hope the Caspers pumpkin starts growing. Nice shape and color.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
The surviving 1200 Engel pumpkin is growing. Nice shape, and there are signs of orange color showing up.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
The surviving 1200 Engel pumpkin is growing. Nice shape, and there are signs of orange color showing up.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
Why would I cut off a pumpkin like this now?
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
This is why I picked it. Blossom end splits stink.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
We have several young field pumpkins like this, a few larger and more smaller ones.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
I had hopes that the Witter-Benson plant would set a pumpkin. But the 2 biggest look like this, blow out around the stem. Time to pull the plant and get ready for next year.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
I had hopes that the Witter-Benson plant would set a pumpkin. But the 2 biggest look like this, blow out around the stem. Time to pull the plant and get ready for next year.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
I had hopes that the Witter-Benson plant would set a pumpkin. But the 2 biggest look like this, blow out around the stem. Time to pull the plant and get ready for next year.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
A 100#+ pumpkin on a 257.5 Barlow plant.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
This 257.5 Barlow measured 115# yesterday and had gained 14# in 5 days.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
This one on a 115 McWilliams taped 149# yesterday. It gained 13# in 5 days. It is still 60# less than the state record, so it needs to keep up this growth rate if I have a chance to challenge the record.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
This one on a 115 McWilliams taped 149# yesterday. It gained 13# in 5 days. It is still 60# less than the state record, so it needs to keep up this growth rate if I have a chance to challenge the record.
 
Monday, August 19 View Page
Sorry for all the duplicate posts. The mouse on my computer broke and the built in touch pad is very touchy.
 
Friday, August 23 View Page
The Caspers pumpkin showed a little bit of growth, so it isn't finished. The 1200 Engel gained 88# in 5 days, now 327# at day 30. The biggest watermelon gained just 5# in 5 days due to cooler weather. It has to gain 55# in 42 days to tie the state record, so that is probably out of reach. The next watermelon is still doing 2.4# per day, up to 127#.
 
Tuesday, August 27 View Page
Daytime temps in the 70's, nights in the 50's have slowed things down a lot. The 1200 Engel is getting a little orange color, gains are down to 15# per day. Estimated weight 386# at DAP 34. Watermelons are down to 1 to 2 1/4 pounds per day. Top 4 weights are 95, 115, 136 and 159#. Best long gourd is 86" and still growing.
 
Friday, August 30 View Page
The 1200 Engel this evening. It is getting warm water with low rate fertilizer nightly. Should be over 400# now, will see what it can gain in September.
 
Friday, August 30 View Page
Second biggest watermelon on 257.5 Barlow. Around 130# now, had been gaining 2# a day. I would be happy with a 1# per day average for September. It already beats my personal best, and we have another one that is at least 20 or 30# heavier.
 
Friday, August 30 View Page
This isn't what it seems. This one set well below the top of the trellis. It is slowing down, will be lucky to make 95" or 100"
 
Friday, August 30 View Page
I took Jacob and my wife trout fishing in Clayton County, Iowa. We caught our 15 fish limit: 2 browns, 6 brookies and 7 rainbows. Some for the grill, some fillets to fry, and the heads and guts for next year's garden.
 
Sunday, September 1 View Page
September 1 update. The 1200 Engel is now 39 DAP, estimated 462#, gaining 15# per day. A rabbit nibbled on it despite the electric fence and chicken wire enclosure. I set a box trap, will put repellant or coyote urine out, and rabbit season is now open. Biggest watermelon is now estimated 168# and gain is nearly 2# per day. Next one is 149# and gaining 2.5# per day. When our previous best was 115#, this is something special. Longest gourd is 93" and growing 2 to 3 inches per day, nearly done. But we have another crop of new gourds coming on with just over a month to grow. Time to push them along.
 
Friday, September 6 View Page
I have been taking measurements every 5 days. The 1200 Engel has gone from 462# to 520#, 11.6# per day. About the same rate of gain as before. The melons are slowing down, The 2nd largest went from 149# to 156#, a 1.4# per day gain. The largest showed no change. But I am not too concerned, yet. Since I only measure to the closest full inch, and light levels were very low this evening, there might have been some growth. It has grown about 10# in 10 days. The last 5 included 3 mornings in the low 50's, but forecast for the middle of September is for warmer than normal temperatures. We got one gourd taped to a board and tied to the trellis. Measured 98", growing slowly. One much smaller that wasn't supported fell and broke. We have a new crop coming on now. Some aborted, some are growing fast. We will have to make a decision in the next few days as to which ones to keep and which ones to cull. They have just enough time to mature before the Ryan Norlin weigh-off.
 
Wednesday, September 11 View Page
#5 day measurements again today. 1200 Engel is now 570#, gained 10# per day. 23 days to grow. Biggest watermelon measured 174#, a 6# gain. Second biggest watermelon measured 159#, a 3# gain. 23 days to grow, and we are supposed to have warm weather and adequate rain for the next week. I need to spray for cucumber beetles and PM after supper. Long gourds have a second crop growing, already over a week old. They should have just enough time to reach maximum growth.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
With 3 weeks to grow, the 1200 Engel is now getting some sunshine to try to bring out more of the orange color. Pushing 600# now.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
Painted some Daconil on the rabbit damage. I added an extra layer of fencing to go along with the chicken wire, electric fence and coyote urine. Since the hunting season opened, the rabbits only come out after dark.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
Found another problem today, a stem split. It isn't too bad. I might have to get Jacob to get down there and do a better job of extending it up the stem and painting on Daconil. It is hard for me to see on the underside, and it really hurts to kneel on a titanium knee joint.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
The Caspers pumpkin is just sitting there, not much growth. I had to scrape some soft stuff off the stem and paint on Daconil. Also a couple spots on the skin that looked like cucumber beetle damage. Last spray a couple days ago was bifenthrin and triazicide, and didn't knock the out completely. Tomorrow evening they get his with Sevin and Merit.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
We tried growing a couple small pumpkins on the Caspers plant, but they get to 80 or 100# and rot at the blossom. And this was the plant that had the least groundhog damage.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
Long gourd is ready for a board and tape support. It has 11' to grow before we have to dig a hole. I hope we have to dig a deep hole. # more weeks should just about get it to the finish line.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
This watermelon is short and fat, a little over 100# and growing. Will likely go to Bloomfield in 2 weeks.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
Oldest watermelon is still growing. This one is planned for Bloomfield too.
 
Friday, September 13 View Page
Biggest watermelon is getting brown spots on stem but still growing slowly. I hope it can get close to 200# in 3 weeks, but even if it doesn't it will blow away my personal best by a lot.
 
Saturday, September 14 View Page
Tarp went back up on the 1200 Engel, storms coming in. Did get a better cut on the splitting stem. Cucumber beetles are swarming and I won't be able to spray because rain will be here by the time the bees are gone. So they get a break until tomorrow. The pumpkin thumps like a hollow bell, will probably go light like most of our pumpkins do. I likely won't measure again until we get it on a pallet. We picked some long gourds, broke a little 6 footer, a bigger one started to rot at the tip and one started rotting at the stem. One is now taped to a board, can make state record size before we have to dig a hole. I hope we end up digging a hole. We have one more that will need a hole and a couple that set so low they will need slant boards by the time they are 7' long. At least these are staying skinny, hopefully they will go long instead of fat like the first ones. Tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. I have canned 31 quarts and 19 pints of salsa. Found one real nice field pumpkin for Anamosa Pumpkinfest, as well as some other decent ones to take to Anamosa and Bloomfield. Plants got real weedy. 2 weeks until the first weigh-off.
 
Monday, September 16 View Page
Sprayed clouds of cucumber beetles last evening, but there were still too many today. I found a bottle of Japanese beetle killer RTU that my wife got at the free swap shop. It covered the 1200 Engel and some of the field pumpkins. I still have malathion to go to before repeating chemicals. Measured watermelons and they are still growing. I found out that the current OTT chart estimates the weight slower than the chart I was using. We will just have to see what the scales say.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Trying something new for gourds that set too close to the ground. Plastic gutter to keep them from getting too crooked. These two are about 7' long, grew about 4 to 5" last night.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Had high hopes for this one. 7' long, grew 20" in past 3 nights, but the end is going bad. I had even been spraying it down with Daconil, but it still went bad.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
1200 Engel is getting a little color. Had to put tarp back over it because of rains. 15 days to grow and color up. At least it has decent shape and stem split is no issue.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Slug made a fatal error, crawling on my pumpkin.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Blossom end is looking good and rabbit damage is healing up and not real visible.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Long tall pumpkin on the 189 Crews. Only pumpkin on this plant.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
97 McWilliams plants are throwing mostly nice round pumpkins, with a few flattened out like a Cinderella. Hot dry weather hurt the size. Now it is warm and wet.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Our biggest watermelon is almost our 2nd biggest. Another one taped just 2" smaller 3 day ago and was growing faster.
 
Thursday, September 19 View Page
Our last mustard patch, which was sweetcorn earlier, is starting to flower. Hopefully it will be dry and cooler next week so we can mow and till it.
 
Sunday, September 22 View Page
Rain just won't quit. It had been real light until Friday when it really poured down. This is where the sand subsoil in the garden really helps, The bad spots n the 1442 Caspers scabbed over but a couple more showed up. I don't know if it will make it to Bloomfield, But we will have field pumpkins, watermelons, long gourds and at least 1 bushel gourd for next Saturday. The long gourds in the plastic rain gutters seem to be doing OK. They got a little scratched up but that will heal over, and they are staying straight. I hope they will make at least 120" by October 5. The cucumber beetles are going crazy, will have to be sprayed again once the weather dries out.
 
Sunday, September 22 View Page
Between rains I was able to get out and spread rye seed on deer food plots and some garden cover crop areas. The 1200 Engel continues to grow over 12.5# per day, now estimated at 681#. With 12 growing days to go it might measure over 800#, but I think it will go light. I treated the bad spots on the Caspers pumpkin with Daconil. Maybe they will scab over. The spot at the blossom was oozing clear goo, like a plant that is still growing, so I am hopeful. I will add sulfur powder tomorrow. I doubt if we have any field pumpkins that will make 60#, and our biggest ones are really ugly. One is long, tapered and wrinkled at the blossom end. Another one grew like a Cinderella, but with a vine stretched tight against one side, and it grew around it. I will try my wife's idea tomorrow; cut the imbedded vine at both ends and hope it shriveles up and shrinks so we can pull it out. We have some real nice looking pumpkins from our 97 McWilliams plants. Our best watermelons gained 3" and 4" in the past 6 days (8 and 10 pounds), now just 1" (2#) apart. But they are beating our previous best by 60#. Hopefully they will add 16 to 20 pounds by the time Anamosa Pumpkinfest and go heavy. Maybe all this rain will fill them up with water. We have received close to 5" of rain since Friday. It is a good thing that I already have a lot of tomatoes canned. Our plants are tipping over from the soggy soil, bending the rebar stakes and even tipping over steel tee fence posts. Plants are dying from kinked vines and root damage, and tomatoes are splitting from too much water. I tossed out at least 5 gallons of split tomatoes, but salvaged about 9 gallons.
 
Thursday, September 26 View Page
With rain forecast for tomorrow, today will be harvest day for the Bloomfield Pumpkin Bash. Jacob and I will be taking long and bushel gourds, watermelons and field pumpkins. My lone surviving Atlantic Giant will get another week to grow. It has the tarp off to get sun to try to bring out more orange color, but the tarp goes back this evening. A week or fain is in the forecast.
 
Thursday, September 26 View Page
All loaded for Bloomfield; long gourd, field pumpkin, bushel gourd and watermelon for both me and Jacob. I am sure glad that Jacob is such a big strong guy. He can handle the heavy lifting that I used to do. We are saving our biggest and my only Atlantic giant for the Ryan Norlin Memorial Weigh-off the following week. But we have some respectable entries this week, including a personal best watermelon. We just have to hope the rabbits don't eat things up in the next week. They started to hit the field pumpkins. The electric fence is hot, it has knocked me for a loop a couple times in the past 2 weeks. Rabbits run right through between pulses. Next year we will have to put chicken wire around the entire garden, with 2 low electric wires on the outside to shock the rabbits when they try to squeeze under the chicken wire.
 
Saturday, September 28 View Page
I got 2nd in the long gourd at Bloomfield with a 99". Jacob and I had personal best watermelons" his was 109# and mine 129#. We saw 3 Kansas state records broken, for pumpkin, bushel gourd and watermelon, and the Iowa state record bushel gourd was broken as well. Getting home just before dark, I had to check our watermelons. They seem to have stopped growing, with OTT measurements just 1/2 " different. I just hope the roots are soaking up all the rain and they go heavy. I'm not measuring the 1200 Engel until we pick it, because I don't want to mess with the 3 wraps of fencing and chicken wire. But the orange color finally seems to be coming out
 
Tuesday, October 1 View Page
Fall preparation for next year has begun. I mowed and tilled the last mustard plot on Monday. Heavy rain is in the forecast for Tuesday. I had tilled up a spot for next year's state fair pumpkin after I had to pull the plant. It was planted to radish, in the same plant family as mustard. It has been mowed and tilled again. I also started setting up a hoop house for watermelons. The soil will get plenty of compost and a little sand added before tilling in the next few weeks. All tillage is done with a pitchfork. It gets down about a foot deep and doesn't hurt the worms, which are abundant. It was way too windy to spray the cucumber beetles. They are like a huge cloud. I guess I will just wait until after we finish the harvest on Friday. Anxious for the Ryan Norlin Memorial Weigh-off.
 
Tuesday, October 1 View Page
1200 Engel is starting to get better color, but it gets cut off the vine in 3 days. Too bad it didn't get started 3 or 4 weeks earlier. ag for polishing it to bring out the shine. Thunder was rumbling to the northwest.
 
Tuesday, October 1 View Page
Hopefully the chicken wire keeps the rabbits from eating this nice field pumpkin. Next year the whole garden gets wrapped in chicken wire.
 
Tuesday, October 1 View Page
Mustard that I mowed and turned under with the pitchfork yesterday. IT has already been rained on and more rain is coming.
 
Tuesday, October 1 View Page
One of the other mustard plots that was seeded to radish, rape and mustard, and of course some pigweed and foxtail grew too. By the weekend, it will be opened up to the deer. The second brassica crop should help kill off diseases as well as bringing in the deer so we can put some in the freezer. I will burn it off in the spring. Behind it you can see where I set up hoops for watermelons next year.
 
Thursday, October 3 View Page
2 days of rain are over. We didn't get as much a Pete Caspers got 1 county to the north, but we had plenty. This is where my soil with all of the worm holes and sand subsoil will help. It should be dry enough by tomorrow afternoon so we can get the big pumpkin loaded without getting stuck. We can get my wife's 4wd Equinox down to the garden, and it will have a much lower lift than the truck to get our big watermelons loaded. The last measurements were just over 170#, but I think Jacob and I can handle them ourselves. I think today we will load up all of our smaller stuff and haul it up from the garden today, so we can just open it up for the deer to eat off the radishes and turnips after tomorrow. They are predicting rain for Saturday, but we have an indoor venue for the Ryan Norlin Weigh-off in Anamosa. The wrestling team may need raincoats for the unloading at the big door, but all the spectators can stay dry in the community building. I hope everyone has safe travels to their weigh-offs.
 
Thursday, October 3 View Page
Thought I was going to have some trouble getting back up the hill after sliding down. But a front brake had locked up. Rust from sitting in the rain since we got home from Bloomfield on Saturday. But no trouble at all coming back up in 4WD.
 
Thursday, October 3 View Page
I got all of these little ones loaded by myself. Jacob gets to unload them. We still have several 50# field pumpkins beside our competition pumpkins and an 80# watermelon that counts as little as well. I got the bolt run through the tripod legs, and the tarp and supporting posts removed from the 1200 Engel. Almost ready to load up tomorrow.
 
Thursday, October 3 View Page
the 1200 is getting darker orange color. I just wish it had gotten started earlier so it could have been bigger and darker. But this isn't too bad considering the rough season.
 
Thursday, October 3 View Page
Just a little bit of green is showing up on the north side of the pumpkin. Some of it seems to rub off, so maybe it is some algae growing on the shady side. I will get it all cleaned up, fungicide washed off and final OTT measurements once it is on the pallet in the truck.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Jacob and me loading my watermelon. Nothing fancy, just a cheap tarp doubled up. I'm lucky to have such a big strong growing partner. If we get them any bigger, we will have to get more help. It was all my 65 year old back could take.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
First melon in the back of Lu Ann's Equinox.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Jacob's watermelon on the way from the weed patch to the Equinox.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Back of the Equinox filled with 2 watermelons.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
We thought the 1442 Caspers might be ruled DMG. So only one will make it to the scales. Same thing happened to the field pumpkin I was going to bring, so I had to load a smaller one. My bushel gourd also rotted out on the bottom, so Jacob has the only one. We both have long gourds. I had the longest at Bloomfield, but Jacob's is the longest this week.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Don Young tried to teach my daughter Jessica how to make a pumpkin look huge when we were at Pawnee City 3 years ago, but she didn't get it right. I tried to show Lu Ann how to do it this year, but she didn't get it quite right either.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Getting the chain to hang the hoist from the tripod ready. Blankets to protect the top of the pumpkin from getting scratched up by the chains.
 
Friday, October 4 View Page
Trying to keep the pumpkin from spinning and tangling the chains. It took a couple tries to get the tripod high enough to clear the bed of the truck, but we finally got it loaded. You can see from the angle of the straps that we just hooked them right to the hoist hook without a lifting ring. It works up to 1000#, but we really need to get a ring. And we need to build a new tripod. The wood we had was not very good to start, and it is getting very old.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Jacob did a better job of making yo 671.5# pumpkin look huge. I finished 12th overall, and picked up the bonus for the biggest pumpkin grown in Jones County. THANK YOU J&P CYCLES AND THE NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM!!
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
I finished 5th in the watermelons with a personal best 167.5#.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Jacob beat me by 7# and took 3rd with his 174.5# melon. John Barlow took 1st and our neighbor Rusty Caspers took 2nd.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Duane Meyers from DeWitt, IA took 13th place and won the Howard Dill award with this great 650.5#. He had been growing one of my 1047.5 seeds, trying to get a pretty orange pumpkin, when one of the big windstorms ripped the plant apart. But Marc Petersen gave him a great Norm Gansert seed and this is what he grew. It is great how growers help each other out.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Dan Carlson and Marc Petersen won the event and reclaimed the Iowa State Record with this 1800.5# beast. Second place came from Minnesota and 3rd place came from Wisconsin. We saw a new Nebraska state record and several personal bests weighed today. Unfortunately a thunderstorm forced the cancellation of the parade, the first time that has happened.- This was the 31st Ryan Norlin Weigh-off and the 30th Anamosa Pumpkinfest.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Beside the Howard Dill Award, the Ryan Norlin Weigh-off also gives a prize for the ugliest pumpkin. This is about the ugliest I have ever seen.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Fidelity Bank gives a $750 prize to the biggest Iowa grown pumpkin. Dan and Marc added this to the $4000 1st prize.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
The Jones County watermelon top growers, Jacob McWilliams 2nd, Rusty Caspers 1st. Awarding the Jones County prizes were Jill Parham, the newest inductee into weigh-off Hall of Fame, and Nancy Norlin.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Duane Meyer with his Howard Dill Award
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
Sheriff Dave Davis didn't know these bushel gourds were in his patch until a couple days ago. He won that division, and made the drive up here even after suffering a nasty injury in an accident yesterday.
 
Saturday, October 5 View Page
After the awards ceremony, my daughter Jessica got a picture from the stage. We had a great turnout, and the top 10 pumpkins ranged from 1045# to 1800.5#.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
Fall patch prep. This will be our early state fair plot. The plant we pulled was growing where the green radish/turnip crop is growing. This plot was tilled with the fork in August and seeded to the cover crop. In late October I mowed and tilled again and spread about 300# of chopped up small pumpkins. Then we added some grass clippings and leaves and covered it with compost. Then it was a half truck load of grass and leaves, bags of wood mulch and potting soil to insulate it and then covered with plastic. We hope to keep the soil from freezing too deep. In March we will clear the site and put up the hoop plastic to warm it up fast.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
This plot was planted to mustard, then followed up with radish and turnip. I mowed and tilled the hoop house area and put compost on everything. The dead weeds and cover crop will be burned in the spring. Behind the pumpkin hoop is a 6' X 20' hoop for watermelons. It will have 2 plants, and they will be opened up once the plants hit the edges of the hoops.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
The tilled area in front was sweet corn and then mustard. There was no time to get a cover crop, since the late spring set everything back about a month. The back part was mustard and them radish/turnip cover crop. It has all been covered with a light application of compost.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
Watermelon plot for next year. Staked out for a 1' X 24' hoop house. Plans are for 2 plants, under plastic all year. This plot was mustard and then radish/turnip cover crop right next to this year's watermelons. This year's watermelon plot will go to mustard and cover crop in 2020, then both plots will be ready for a giant pumpkin in 2021.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
Pumpkin vines will be burned in the spring and then the plot will go to field pumpkins. Future plans are half watermelon, half mustard in 2021, switch those crops for 2022 and then ready for giant pumpkin in 2023.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
The weedy field pumpkin patch will be burned in the spring and planted to sweet corn, mustard and radish/turnip cover crop. No spring tillage except for using a pointed hoe to plant the corn. Mustard will be tilled under with the fork. By 2021 it should be ready for 2 giant pumpkin plants.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
Our tomato patch will be home to a giant pumpkin next year. I tried growing field pumpkins there in 2018. They grew great but the groundhogs ate them all. This year it grew great tomatoes, but rabbits ate all the beans and cucumbers. It will be surrounded with chicken wire and electric fence. It is kind of a long skinny plot, so it will take some extra pruning and vine training. I got a good shot of compost on it but because it has more clay, it will need more compost in the spring. Weeds were no problem and it got a rye cover crop. I need to knock out the rye early so it doesn't spread the rust fungus to the long gourds.
 
Tuesday, November 5 View Page
Entry 190 should be 14' x 24' hoop house for the watermelons, not 1 x 24. Next year, instead of Jacob and I each having our own plants, we will be growing as a team. We will only have one entry for each weigh-off, but will try to get to 2 more competitions. That is if the weather cooperates better than it has for the last several years. We will also quit growing bushel gourds; they just don't do well for us and I worry about them crossing with our long gourds. And the entire garden will be surrounded with chicken wire along with the electric fence. We are tired of having the critters wreck things.
 

 

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