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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 76 Entries.
Friday, January 11 View Page
Inside the polytunnel as of today, no cover crop as the water to the allotment is turned off for the winter. So the next best thing is a mulch of compost covered with an opaque but permeable membrane which prevents weeds from growing but allows gas exchange. Underneath the soil is damp and there are plenty of worms. I doubt it'll freeze over even if it gets really cold outside. I am concerned that it'll be a cosy place for rats and mice to spend the winter - we'll see in a few weeks time when I get some samples for the first soil test of the year.
Friday, January 25 View Page
Here's the first soil test of the year, and though not perfect I'm still quite pleased with it. The main thing for me is the pH 6.7 which must be a payoff for all the OM and S that's been added these past few years. I'll continue to monitor it but I don't think there's any amendments necessary. I'll dig in a load of perlite and/or vermiculite in the spring and that's about it.
Sunday, January 27 View Page
Root nodules containing N fixing bacteria in some field beans that we're growing as green manure on the allotment over winter. When spring comes and/or before flowering, I'll strim the plants to ground level and till everything into the ground.
Friday, March 29 View Page
Seed selection this year, both pumpkin and squash. I'll probably start out with 4-5 pumpkins and will end up with just one again as that's all I can fit in the polytunnel. We'll have a squash growing outside, and I'm not sure yet what Oliver will choose.
Sunday, April 21 View Page
We're back today having spent the last 2 weeks on holiday in Florida. No hanging about - today is seed starting day! They were soaked for 2 hours in deionised water at 28C and now they're in Root Riot plugs on the heat mat, also at 28C. We have chosen 7 to start, two of which I'll grow in the polytunnel before settling on one, and one of which Oliver will grow just outside.
Tuesday, April 23 View Page
Well that was quick! Just 2 days later and 3 of the 7 have popped up, they have now gone into 5l pots with Canna Seed Compost and some Azos & Giantveg Mycorrhizal Innoculant. Hopefully it won't be long before the others make an appearance. I'm really chuffed because last year we had all kinds of germination problems, the main difference this year is keeping an even, higher temp and I also made sure the plugs were more damp rather than wet.
Friday, April 26 View Page
With 5 of the 7 seeds now germinated, I've put some finishing touches to the soil in the polytunnel. In goes a load of vermiculite and Biovin, now I just have to water, cover it up and wait.
Monday, April 29 View Page
A quick view inside the nursery. As well as natural light from one side, there's a T5 on top that's on 14 hours per day. There's a fan providing gentle air movement and the whole thing is surrounded by reflective Mylar. I'm trying to keep the temp at an even 21C but it does go up a bit during the day and down a bit at night. The seedlings look fine so far.
Thursday, May 2 View Page
And here's the 2152 Gantner again one week on.
Sunday, May 5 View Page
A couple of days later and the first true leaf of the 2152 is making progress and showing good colour. Tomorrow I'll prepare the patch for planting as it'll need to get into the ground this week. It'll probably be paired with the 1954 Lancaster which is at a similar stage of growth.
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
2152 Gantner (l) and 1954 Lancaster (r) hardening off before they go in. Same age, the Gantner is slightly smaller but better colour than the Lancaster. The soil in the polytunnel has been a steady 15C for over a week now.
Thursday, May 9 View Page
And today's the day. Lancaster is nearest, Gantner a bit further away. The soil dries quickly in the polytunnel so I will remove the black cover as the plants progress. No fertiliser yet, they're too young, just come bacterial & myco innoculant for now.
Saturday, May 11 View Page
After a day of floppy leaves they've in settled in well, they're now looking more healthy & turgid as they take up water. There's not a lot of air movement in the polytunnel so I've set up a couple of fans set up to aid transpiration. They will also rock the plants gently which should stimulate stronger growth. The metal rods are to support some clear polycarbonate sheets which are set up like a tent overnight to guard against low temps. Next week we'll put Oliver's pumpkins in the ground outside.
Wednesday, May 15 View Page
2152 Gantner is in the foreground. In development it's slightly behind the Lancaster, although both have been pretty slow settling in, possibly because of transplant shock, possibly because of the cold nights. I've installed a paraffin heater to combat the latter, otherwise we're having a lot of sun and it gets very warm during the day. Water is just pH 6.0 EC 1.3 with Mammoth P compost tea at present.
Wednesday, May 15 View Page
Another pic with the polycarbonate sheets set up as an overnight cloche, the paraffin heater is in there somewhere to keep things cosy.
Saturday, May 18 View Page
2152 Gantner 25 days after germination, still a bit slow in development this past week, perhaps it's all going on underground.
Saturday, May 18 View Page
1713 Lancaster slightly ahead in development compared to the Gantner. Unless this does something really special, I'll choose the Gantner due to its genetics.
Sunday, May 19 View Page
A quick view of Oliver's patch with a 2003 Lancaster at one end and 1954 Lancaster at the other.
Thursday, May 23 View Page
2152 Gantner exactly one month old. Not doing too bad, but the leaves are a bit less green than I'd like. Weather has been warm and sunny this week, so the fans have been on and all doors & vents open during the day.
Thursday, May 23 View Page
1713 Lancaster showing some chlorosis. It's had exactly the same treatment as the 2152 and is planted just 5 feet away, so what gives? I might add some Mn foliar in case it's hit a patch of alkaline soil, this did the trick last year.
Friday, May 24 View Page
I could be wrong, but this looks like it could develop into a ribbon vine - bad news for Oliver and his 2003 Lancaster. We do have one more plant as a backup however. Let's see how it goes over the next week.
Saturday, May 25 View Page
Vining is just about starting now on both plants. Weather continues to be dry and warm. Watering in recent days has been with Canna Bio Vega Organic with added Mammoth P adjusted with nitric acid to pH 6.0-6.8, but now things are starting to take off I'll start adding some more N.
Sunday, June 2 View Page
2152 Gantner one week later and the main vine is starting to take shape and secondaries making themselves apparent. Despite some minor yellow patches, which are nowhere near as bad as last year, I think we're all good, so the Lancaster will probably be culled soon.
Saturday, June 8 View Page
Weekly update. The Lancaster has been pulled so we just have the 2152 inside now. The main vine has been advancing about 4-6" per day. It's been sunny all week but rained for the first time in ages yesterday and it's set to continue all weekend.
Sunday, June 9 View Page
First female spotted today, about 6ft out. It won't be pollinated of course, it's just a progress marker. Some mild chlorosis on one leaf has prompted another foliar dose of Solufeed trace element chelate, EC 1.5 made to pH 6.5 with sulphuric acid + urea + fulvic/humic. Soil EC measured 1.3, watering with ammonium nitrate EC 1.5 and pH 6.8 with nitric acid.
Saturday, June 15 View Page
It's been cold and wet all week so growth hasn't been as fast as I'd have liked. Chlorosis on one leaf, and the odd yellow spot on others. Otherwise all good.
Thursday, June 20 View Page
We're at 10ft now and although growing quickly I notice the vines are a bit thin looking, hopefully they will fatten up as time goes on. The soil EC varies from 0.8 to 1.5 and averages 1.3 so I have upped the nitrate application as at this stage I want it to be between 1.5 and 1.8. I sprayed CalCarb under the leaves this morning and noticed what looked like a small colony of black aphids which is a bit early but will be dealt with soon enough. I rinsed out the water tanks and tested the drip irrigation system with water pH 6.6 and it's working fine but the plant is still small enough to water by hand.
Saturday, June 22 View Page
Pic as of this morning, growth has picked up these past few days as the weather has been warmer. Daily calcium nitrate, seaweed, Azos & OminA EC 1.8 - 2.0 probably helps too. Vine burying with rooting hormone, powdered myco and compost mixed with liquid myco. Foliar spray with Chess last night to get rid of the aphids though there weren't that many really, but as it's systemic it will stop further infestations. Male flowers are now open, but we're probably another week or two away from any kind of pollination.
Monday, June 24 View Page
This little lady made an appearance this morning at about 12ft out, perhaps she is the one? I will ease off on the nitrogen now and apply some superphosphate and a one-time dose of C-Result.
Tuesday, June 25 View Page
View from the front. The female at the tip looks like it's going to bud on the right, not the left as I'd hoped. Not a big deal really. The side vines on the left at the back, however, will soon want to go through the side wall. I'm not sure whether or not to terminate them as they hit the wall, or slice some holes in the polythene and let them through. I'll sleep on it.
Thursday, June 27 View Page
The leaves at the back of the plant seem ok, but there's a difficulty in transporting water right to the end of the main vine during hot weather. Last year the June heat & sun brought about all kinds of problems so this year I've made a shade tent to help out the growing tip. I gave the plant a good watering last night, so the fan blowing down the vine throughout the day will hopefully aid the transpiration stream.
Saturday, June 29 View Page
Last year I learned that the leaves are highly susceptible to scorching during hot weather so this year I will take pre-emptive action on what's forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far by watering around the younger leaves before covering them with with a lightweight fleece. Hopefully this will provide a shield from the sun and make for a cooler microclimate underneath. The doors and side blinds are fully open, there's a fan on the tip of the main vine and on the stump. I can't really do much else.
Monday, July 1 View Page
Lithovit applied today with distilled water and HNO3 making pH 6.8. The heat stress has affected some leaves but isn't as bad as last year, the fleece covering has worked remarkably well I think. I've kept the fleece over the growing tip of the main vine 24hr as a precaution as I can't be there during the day to monitor it, but mainly because the female flower there is in a perfect position.
Monday, July 1 View Page
And here she is, due to open tomorrow morning. I'll pollinate with one of Oliver's plants, not sure which one yet we'll just have to see what flowers are available.
Tuesday, July 2 View Page
Pollinated this morning with Oliver's 2003 Lancaster. Not bad looking, slightly swollen lobe on the left reduces symmetry.
Thursday, July 4 View Page
A couple of days later and there is some swelling which is promising. Another hot sunny day is forecast today, as is the rest of the week, so this and the younger leaves will be covered in protective fleece.
Friday, July 5 View Page
Even in just 24 hours it's doubled in size, which is promising. Fingers crossed over the next couple of weeks, I'll just be keeping the plant healthy.
Friday, July 5 View Page
Fleece covering the tender vine tips, young leaves and baby pumpkin. Hot, dry air is a big problem in the polytunnel when it's hot & sunny outside.
Sunday, July 7 View Page
This evening I sprayed with calcium chelate pH 6.5 using InCa which aids calcium absorption. I'll be doing this every 2 weeks or so now. All water & spray so far has had RAW ominA added for the same effect. I'm ventilating a lot more, and using fans too, with the idea that a lower soil EC will increase transpiration and draw calcium up through the roots. I really want a thick blossom end this year, as well as weight. Pumpkin looking good though I am concerned about mice/moles/rats tunnelling all over the place, I'll have to get some traps set.
Sunday, July 7 View Page
Nice thick stem, not long but OK I think. The position is fine.
Tuesday, July 9 View Page
A couple of days later and it's fattening up. Getting the right position is critical and this is a good time to get started before it's too big to move. I'm aiming to eventually get the stem about 9-12" off the ground so for now it's a 1" raise per day, while keeping it level.
Tuesday, July 9 View Page
Paton pot method showing signs of success! I'm using Midas rooting gel and Mykos topped with a pot of wet BAC lava soil pre-soaked with Orca liquid myco & URB microbes.
Wednesday, July 10 View Page
This will be 7 DAP. Low EC potassium feed introduced this week.
Friday, July 12 View Page
I gave the plant a good soak using the overhead watering system this morning and it's paid dividends with perky growth everywhere. It's hard tap water, pH 7.8 which isn't ideal but dechlorinated and I have no choice otherwise. This is DAP 10 and the throne is in place.
Sunday, July 14 View Page
DAP 12 and we have a yellow football in the patch. There's still a backup on one of the side vines but I'll probably chop it this week. Then it's all or nothing! Side vines are being terminated as they hit the walls. Mole continues to be a problem despite traps having been set for a week now.
Tuesday, July 16 View Page
You can see by the size of the board what I'm hoping for this year :) All good so far though it 'might' still abort I am well aware of that. Last year the fertiliser we used in the main tank gave us some precipitation problems so this year I'm trying Superior Fleury 16-10-18 at EC 1.5 - 1.8. It's a fertiliser that's specially formulated for hard water - no need for acid, it automatically gets the pH down to 6.7 or thereabouts. I will still add humic, seaweed and ominA but that's about it.
Friday, July 19 View Page
Final pic for a week as now that school's ended we'll be away on hols. DAP 17 and it's 30-40lb. I decided to keep the backup until we get back, it has a much more prominent blossom end than this, which is slightly concave, and it's a thin blossom end that gave us the split last year. I'm doing all I can to get calcium into the fruit using all the techniques I know .
Friday, July 26 View Page
So we go away for a week and upon return the tunnel is full to bursting point! Thanks to Ron and Fergus for watering while we were away, by all accounts it's been a very hot week.
Friday, July 26 View Page
A view from the other end to which I have proper access but even that's getting crowded. The main vine has been terminated now as have most of the side ones allowing for a few tertiaries to fill in the gaps.
Friday, July 26 View Page
So at DAP24 we have 139lb which is OK but the shape isn't looking too good, as can be seen from the next pic.
Friday, July 26 View Page
Last year our pumpkin grew in a similar kidney bean shape and had a very thin blossom end which resulted in a split. It might be too early to tell but it could be happening with this one too.
Friday, July 26 View Page
On the other hand, the backup on a side vine is looking good n' round. I'm really not sure which one to keep.
Wednesday, July 31 View Page
Following some advice the backup was chopped and now the pumpkin on the main tapes 239lb at DAP 29. After some more advice I've increased the watering to about 160 litres a day pH 6.8 and dropped the EC to 1.3.
Saturday, August 3 View Page
DAP32 tapes 314lb which is a gain of 166lb over the week, OK but I was hoping for 200 minimum given the decent weather and overall health of the plant which looks better than last year and has much better rooting. Let's see what happens.
Saturday, August 3 View Page
Oliver's 1954 Lancaster showing good colour and I like the shape too, about 40lb at the moment and now starting to grow fast.
Tuesday, August 6 View Page
It's a decent, clean & thick stalk which gets a fan on it whenever I get round to changing the batteries. No sign of splits, fingers crossed. Nimrod, Avatar and Prestop was applied over the past few days to prevent PM and Pythium. We're off now for another 3 days, Ron will be looking after things again while we're gone.
Saturday, August 10 View Page
Back from hols and the pumpkin tapes 529lb at DAP 39 which is a gain of 214lb over the week which is fine by me. Some of the leaves near the stump are looking old now. Other than that there are no signs of pests or PM, the plant looks healthy overall, I just hope the advance application of Prestop will control any fungus that might be lurking, and that we don't get a split.
Thursday, August 15 View Page
A quick view from the stump end. Th weather has been variable over the past couple of weeks with mostly cool and cloudy days with the odd sunny and rainy days inbetween. Typical English summer and not really what we need in August. The plant itself seems healthy enough, with some of the older leaves showing their age, as is expected. Blackfly has appeared on some of the older leaves and will be controlled with Chess. The pumpkin is now being covered with a duvet at night in an attempt to reduce loss of heat which may have been gained during the day, and therefore reduce levels of expansion/contraction which might cause a split.
Saturday, August 17 View Page
Despite the cool and dull weather the pumpkin grew 212lb this week which is pretty much the same as the week before, it now tapes 740lb @ DAP 46. I like the colour, stripy and smooth and with no webbing yet. The forecast is now warm and sunny for a few days but will be changeable after that no doubt. It's a challenge getting the day & night temps right with the weather being so variable.
Tuesday, August 20 View Page
I assume the pumpkin is taking what it's lacking from the leaves, as it's only the ones closest to the pumpkin that are showing signs of ageing and distress.
Tuesday, August 20 View Page
That being said, it's a good looker that's just passed the 800lb mark at DAP 49.
Wednesday, August 21 View Page
Soil analysis from samples taken last week. There's nothing 'low' but there might be problems with some elements out-competing others. The pH has gone up a bit but it's still acceptable. As of last week I'm using sulphuric rather than nitric acid to lower water pH.
Saturday, August 24 View Page
Ron came down to the allotments and took a pic of me at day 53 where a weekly gain of 160lb has given us a shade over 900lb. He'll be looking after things this week, which is forecast to be hot and sunny, while we go for another holiday. I've reduced the EC to less than 1.0 at pH 6.5 with just RAW OminA Ca chelator and weekly foliar SBPI and InCa. While I'm gone the pumpkin will be covered 24/7 in the duvet and all doors and side screens open day and night.
Saturday, August 31 View Page
Back home today at day 60, pumpkin tapes 1084lb which is up 184lb since last week. Not bad considering the irrigation lines were blocked and the soil is dry, and apparently it's been sunny all week too. I need to see about making a bigger shelter as it's hit the roof! A nice problem to have.
Monday, September 2 View Page
It may not look pretty but to me it's looking good. This time last year the stump was a tangled mess of vines and shoots and rot had set in. This year I've kept the whole area open, clear and dry and I've had a fan on the stump 24/7. The stump and vine aren't as thick as I'd want to be but the important thing is there is no sign of rot (so far) and overall the plant appears healthy.
Thursday, September 5 View Page
It's taping 1169lb but to be honest the final weight isn't a priority, after what happened last year I just want something to show. The nights are starting to get cold now so things are slowing down anyway. So from now on I'm just concentrating on keeping the plant healthy as it gets old, and free of rot best I can.
Saturday, September 7 View Page
At 1187lb and 14lb per day, the past week has been about half the rate of growth of the previous week. Cool nights and general cool temps as well as an ageing plant and the natural course of things are to blame so it's not unexpected. The graph shows that it will probably top out at 1200-1250lb but as mentioned before I'll be happy with anything!
Sunday, September 8 View Page
It's game over for Oliver as a sudden and unexpected frost last night has wiped out his plants, in fact all the curcurbits on the allotments have suffered the same. He has two pumpkins circa 200lb each, hopefully they will survive until the Malvern and Southampton shows. The lowest temp in the polytunnel was 5C so lucky for me the 2152 plant was unscathed, and the pumpkin remains intact.
Saturday, September 14 View Page
We're taping 1257lb this week which is up 70lb since last week. The days are warm but nights aren't, getting down to about 10-12C. Still no sign of any rot or PM which is good, I will keep the fans on the stump and stem nonetheless. The plant is showing increased signs of ageing as expected though I will continue to spray with InCa and SBPI once a week.
Tuesday, September 17 View Page
Quick pic of my other half without whose advice and support this pumpkin wouldn't exist! Just a few more weeks to go now!
Sunday, September 22 View Page
Up 62lb this week and now taping 1320lb. I removed some of the vines closest to the pumpkin as I'd left the water on by mistake and I didn't want too much to be taken up. At this stage most of the nutrition seems to be coming out of the leaves anyway, I don't think the roots are drawing much.
Saturday, September 28 View Page
Pumpkin has pretty much finished growing at 1329lb. Now I just have to keep the thing intact until the show on Oct 12. This year I just want something to show. Next year I will try for weight!
Sunday, October 6 View Page
Doing some final prep before getting ready to winch the pumpkin out of the polytunnel later this week. Once it's outside we can hoist it with sling + tractor in the usual way. I've not done anything like this before so I hope I've planned it OK! We'll be at Southampton on Sat and we'll bring Oliver's Lancaster with us too.
Friday, October 11 View Page
Thanks to David, Alan and John for helping us shift mine and Oliver's pumpkins this afternoon. We'll see everyone tomorrow at Southampton!
Sunday, October 13 View Page
Thank you to everyone who helped us with our giant pumpkin this year, including Alan Keen, Chris White, Fergus Lapage, Steve Travis, Terry, John and Mikey Means but especially Ron Schafer and David Shipley - we could not have done this without you! Pumpkin came 2nd in the UK at 1,354.4lb, by far a PB, and Oliver's wasn't too shabby either at 248.5 lbs. Thanks also to everyone at Canna for sponsoring the event, our fellow UK growers and of course Stewart & Ian Paton. Getting ready for next year starts today!
Tuesday, October 22 View Page
I've added a load of peat & perlite to the patch, watered it and covered it up to bed in over winter. That will be all now until next year. In the meantime Nic has collated some of the above pics, plus some video of the harvest which shows us winching the pumpkin out of the polytunnel, and made this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28Z9Yg0FIY8&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2gRxLSLCehHKIbr1YSL1JcXgYem5mHkRALutH5QJPi95HKS-o-Tv6fNpc


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