Home What's New Message Board
BigPumpkins.com
Select Destination Site Search
 
Matt D. - 2020 Grower Diary Point your RSS aggregator here to subscribe to this Grower Diary.

Show Entries in

Grower Diary Menu
  Back to Previous Page
List Other Grower's Diaries
Submit to Your Own Diary

 
Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 189 Entries.
Saturday, February 22 View Page
Early Start To The 2020 Growing Season This past winter has been certainly on the warmer side of average. So, the plan is to take advantage of these mild conditions and start the reconstruction of the indoor high tunnel/greenhouse structure early. The ground is still frozen in places, but the hoop anchors were able to be put into place and now it is time to assemble the hoop structure. The plan this year is to do a staggered start to try and have the pumpkin plants take advantage of the longest 50 to 100 days of sunlight during the year. Early on when the plant is small it is easy to add supplemental lighting, so the early start date plant will have an additional 600watt grow light to help extend the day (light) duration during what would naturally be short days. Start dates are planned to be as follows… Indoor Plant: Seed Starting Date: March 11th, 2020 Outdoor Plant: Seed Starting Date: April 11th, 2020
 
Saturday, February 22 View Page
All Heaters Are Not The Same While it may be “warm” now, the weather can quickly change and with a planned early start to the growing season the heating system needed an upgrade from last year. So, the traditional torpedo style heater (in this case the ReddyHeater 200T) is being replaced with the Indirect-Fired Heat Wagon (HVF110). Even though the BTU of the Heat Wagon (110,000 BTU’s) is almost half of the ReddyHeater (200,000 BTU’s) the reason for the change is removal of exhaust gasses from the growing space. Last year, during the consecutive cold nights when the traditional torpedo heater was running more frequently there was some early aging and damage noticed on the leaves. This was cause by the by products of the combustion process being directly added to the growing space, which was evident by the nearly 5,000ppm of CO2 reading on the controller. This value is getting to the point that it can be hazardous to humans, not to mention the smell and other by products produced by the heater. Both can run off diesel fuel and a power source, but the Oil Indirect-Fired Heat Wagon requires some extra piping to properly vent the exhaust gasses which are kept separate from the hot air. This should allow only hot air to enter the growing space making it a better environment for the plants and grower.
 
Saturday, February 22 View Page
Heat Wagon HVF110 Oil Indirect Fired Heater Specs These are the specification and model number of the Heat Wagon HVF110 Oil Indirect Heater that is being used to supplement heat in the 32ft wide x 40ft long x 12ft tall growing structure. Overall, it should do the job needed to help prevent the inside of the structure from getting to temperate that would damage the plants. Based on a test in the drive way it seems to perform well and there is also an external thermostat to help automatically regulate the temperature in the grow space. Burning less than 1 gallon for each hour of run time and having a 17 gallon capacity should reduce the need to refill every day.
 
Sunday, February 23 View Page
Compost For The Season Here is the trailer with two cubic yards of leaf compost, 1 cubic yard for the indoor plant site and 1 cubic yard for the outdoor plant. Indoor plant required the compost to be brought in through the door which took a little extra time. The outdoor plant was easy; just hit the button and the trailer automatically rises dumping the compost out. Then it takes a little time to spread it, but it is sure easier than having to shovel it all out first.
 
Sunday, February 23 View Page
Indoor Plant Amendments Added Today the amendments were spread on the indoor plant site only. Based on the soil test results the proper amounts of Sulfate of Potash (0-0-50), Copper Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Borax, Kelp, Greensand, Humic Acid and Alfalfa were added to the approximately 1,000sq. ft. of growing space. Using this spreader (Earthway 2600A Plus Commercial 40 pound capacity) for a number of years it has always performed well and is able to be easily pushed across the uneven garden surface. Since it is only used once or twice a year (like the tiller) it is important that it works when needed. Be sure to always rinse your spreader after use because even after doing just one plant there was noticeable build up of material that will only increase the likelihood of future failure when you need the tool most. (*This image was pre-wash;-)
 
Sunday, March 8 View Page
Indoor Plant Site: Ready For Tilling Amendments are spread, hoops are up, purlin braces in place and fans are installed so the amount of walking in the growing space is now reduced. At this point tilling can take place.
 
Sunday, March 8 View Page
Troy-Bilt Horse Tiller After a little reworking from a faulty switch at the end of last year’s tilling, this is back in action for one of its only two days of work for the year. Typically, tilling would be completed in just one day but there is a staggered start to this year’s growing season planned. The indoor plant site is the only one that has been amended to date and since the plant will be going in early to this site, it requires an early tilling. The goal is to wait on the outdoor planting site so the nutrients added have less of chance of leaching out before the pumpkin plant can uptake them.
 
Sunday, March 8 View Page
Indoor Plant Site: Tilling Complete Tilling has been completed. Having the hoops in place made for a little challenge, but the next step is to get the drip irrigation in and hopefully there is enough daylight left to do this today.
 
Sunday, March 8 View Page
Indoor Plant Site: Drip Irrigation Lines Installed The sun is setting and light is being lost fast, but all of the drip lines have been installed and tacked down so they do not get tangled or crossed. For those seeking specifics… Total of 48 lines each 31ft. long to cover my 40ft x 32ft single plant area Drip Tape Thickness: 15mil. Emitter Spacing in Tape: 8 inches Flow Rate per 100ft @ 8psi: 20 GPH (or 0.34 GPM) Space between Drip Tapes: 9 inches Run Time: Daily for 30-60min. (*This will depend on the season and plant stage of development as I can also control the flow to each line individually, so I may select to have two 30min. irrigation events per day during peak growth and heat.) Estimated Water Usage: 150 gallons per 30min. irrigation over 1,280 sq.ft.
 
Monday, March 9 View Page
Greenhouse Covering (6mil Polyethylene Film) Installation Today While the smaller cold frame and heating cables have already been installed it has been a game of “play the weather” to determine the “best” day to install the plastic to the structure. Well, today at 4:00pm is the time.
 
Monday, March 9 View Page
Greenhouse Covering (6mil Polyethylene Film) Installed Hard to catch a picture in the moment, but thanks to the helpers, everything went well and after a slight adjustment the entire process only took about an hour from the first pull to the final positioning.
 
Monday, March 9 View Page
Greenhouse Covering (6mil Polyethylene Film) Sides Secured This shows the long sides and the ends. A trench is pre-dug along the long sides of the structure that is about 8 inches deep and 12 inches wide. This allows an area for the plastic to lay into and then it is easy to toss the soil back on the plastic which creates a very strong anchor and seal. The end walls are held on by many 1.25” x 4” snap clamps which do a great job of holding, as long as you use enough of them. The plastic is greenhouse grade single layer 6mil clear. It is strong enough to take the wind for multiple years and still provide a good light transmittance. There are always little tears/holes and the silver tape marks some of the patch areas to prevent any issues during the season.
 
Monday, March 9 View Page
Greenhouse Covering (6mil Polyethylene Film) Sides Secured This shows the long sides and the ends. A trench is pre-dug along the long sides of the structure that is about 8 inches deep and 12 inches wide. This allows an area for the plastic to lay into and then it is easy to toss the soil back on the plastic which creates a very strong anchor and seal. The end walls are held on by many 1.25” x 4” snap clamps which do a great job of holding, as long as you use enough of them. The plastic is greenhouse grade single layer 6mil clear. It is strong enough to take the wind for multiple years and still provide a good light transmittance. There are always little tears/holes and the silver tape marks some of the patch areas to prevent any issues during the season.
 
Wednesday, March 11 View Page
Seed Starting Day (Indoor Plant) 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg (F: 1756 Howell/Jolivette x M: 1625 Gantner) This growing season just like last year the 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg will be the seed planted for both of the plant sites (indoor and outdoor) this year. The intention is to try and keep comparisons all with-in the same plant genetics. While there are differences between seeds even from the same pumpkin, at least the total variability is reduced when the same seed stock is used. The seeds for the indoor plant, were taken out of the freezer, edges were filed and now they are soaking in room temperature water for about two hours. After this time they will go into a wet paper towel, then into a plastic bag. The propagation chamber is ready and waiting for the seeds.
 
Wednesday, March 11 View Page
Germination Temperature = 86F Regulating the temperature can be finicky, so this year the same basic heat mat, greenhouse tray and towel will be used with the addition of a thermostat. The temperature sensing probe will be placed directly under the plastic bag to allow for an accurate temperature that the seeds are being exposed to. The thermostat has been set at 86F and typically stays in the range of 84-87F which is ideal for maximizing the germination rate.
 
Wednesday, March 11 View Page
Germination Chamber The entire set-up is placed in a cooler to help insulate the environment from quick temperature changes. The lid is kept slightly open and this simple system works out just fine for the seeds.
 
Friday, March 13 View Page
Germination! Both seeds have produced a radical which means germination has occurred. Now the next step is to transfer these seeds to media and wait on emergence. (*The seed on the rights is the keeper.)
 
Friday, March 13 View Page
Propagation Bench Here is the Pro-mix, heat mat and HPS (High Pressure Sodium) light set-up. This will hold the seeds to get them large enough to know which direction they will vine and build up a good root system before being transplanted outside. They do not spend very long here since the roots grow fast and cucurbits as a plant family do not like their roots disturbed so the goal is always to get them outside.
 
Monday, March 23 View Page
Weather Delay... Transplant day will now be tomorrow;-)
 
Tuesday, March 24 View Page
Transplant Day… All systems are go! Two 100 watt ceramic reptile heaters CO2 system Soil warm (70F) Grow light Mill fabric/belting installed to keep weeds down 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Indoor Seedling
 
Tuesday, March 24 View Page
Soil Temperature Check = 70F This confirms that the all important root zone temperature is stable right around 70F which is the target temperature. Takes the soil heating cables about three days to stabilize at this temperature, but this also confirms that the in-line thermostat is functioning properly.
 
Tuesday, March 24 View Page
Heating Cable Found! The selected planting site was carefully dug out and one section of heating cable was discovered. This also shows the depth the cables are placed and the drip tapes are also moved to a greater spacing to avoid soaking the area which will only increase the odds of rot at the all important crown region of the plant. Having the heating cable come in contact with the roots should not pose a problem since the thermostat is working properly to keep the temperature right around that 70F point. However, it is good to know the root zone will be at a favorable temperature for plant growth.
 
Tuesday, March 24 View Page
Root Inspection (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) Difficult balancing act of the camera and plant while alone, but here is a picture of the root system. Everything looks good here, no complaints.
 
Tuesday, March 24 View Page
1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Indoor Seedling Transplant Success Plant is safely been transplanted into its location. The electrical station to the right hand side has all of the supporting equipment (separate timers for lights and heaters, CO2 controller and soil heating cables) which is a little more than normal due to the early start of this plant. The CO2 readout is hard to catch in the camera so the next entry will show the readout after many attempts.
 
Wednesday, March 25 View Page
Carbon Dioxide Current Reading The goal is to have the CO2 level in the 850-950ppm range. When the plant gets out of the small cold-frame structure the settings will be slightly increased to 1050ppm. The reason is the try and stretch the use small 20lb bottle since the total light getting to the plant (PAR values) are not quite as strong and the temperature is not near the optimum of 85F for much of the day.
 
Wednesday, March 25 View Page
20 Pound Bottle of Pressurized Carbon Dioxide This shows the 20lb bottle that is feeding the smaller cold frame that is inside the larger structure. The reason for the smaller cold frame is that it is easier to regulate the temperature and CO2 in a small area. The controller (Atlas 9) has a “fuzzy logic” feature and with the small relatively sealed cold frame and a small plant (not consuming much CO2) and some “free” CO2 from the compost, this 20lb bottle lasted 17 days! However, as the season progresses the same 20lb bottles will last much less time. “Fuzzy logic” is a computed release of CO2 to help reduce large swings in CO2 levels to help not over add and conserve the total amount of CO2 used. It adds to the cost of the controller, but the long term savings and reduced hassle of bottle moving is well worth it. Fuzzy Logic Explained Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_4uP6ZdTBU
 
Wednesday, March 25 View Page
Regulator Gauge This shows a full bottle and the regulator. It only runs at a flow rate of about 10-12 cfm because not much is needed to quickly fill the cold-frame. Also it is important to know that running it much above 20 cfm will cause regulator freeze-up, even on a hot summer day in a greenhouse.
 
Friday, March 27 View Page
Soil Heating Cable Preparation This is the process to bury soil heating cables. First a hole is dug that is about 5ft wide x 6ft long x 1ft deep. The cold frame structure supports are installed first to help ensure that 2/3 of the root zone will be heated. After the soil is removed a pitch fork is used to break-up the bottom and offer some aeration for improved drainage.
 
Friday, March 27 View Page
Soil Heating Cable Pattern The 40ft soil heating cables with built-in a thermostat are laid out using this pattern. The goal is to maximize coverage, while not having any cables cross each other and have the thermostat between two heating elements. Bamboo stakes are used to initial position everything and then once the soil is added back the stakes can be removed.
 
Friday, March 27 View Page
Large and Small Structures Once the heating cables are buried, the hoops are installed, plastic put in-place and mill fabric/belting put inside to act as ground cover. So there is basically a large cold frame (32ft x 40ft) in the background and a smaller version (5ft. x 9ft.) in the foreground.
 
Friday, March 27 View Page
Large Structure Also Has an Indoor Small Cold Frame The reason for the small structure within the larger one is better control over the smaller environment for both heat and Carbon Dioxide enrichment. However, since the plant was stared a month early, to supplement light a 630watt CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide) light will be used. Ropes attached to the main structures hoops and ratchet hangers will allow for proper positioning.
 
Sunday, March 29 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: 5 Days After Transplanting This shows the plant only 5 days after transplanting and everything is looking great. The CO2 reading is 943ppm which is right in the preset range.
 
Sunday, March 29 View Page
With and Without CO2 Enrichment Both of these plants were stated at the same time and were of comparable size when the selection was made to plant the “chosen one”. However, this shows the impact that the addition of CO2 can have on a plant for just five days. The plant on the left has received CO2 and the one on the right is of the same age and in the greenhouse, but in the section without CO2 supplementation. The plants are still young enough that there is still minimal chances that root bound is the cause for the size difference.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: April 1st, 2020 (This is no April Fools;-) Overall plant is looking great, with the help of some foliar Epsom Salts (rate 2TBS/gallon) misted on the leaves. There has been some feedings of Growth products triple 12 (12-12-12), Age Old Grow (12-6-6) and Origin 360 added along with some 100watt reptile heaters. Keep-in mind that this plant was started on March 11th, 2020 so the key is plant age and not the calendar date. The thought process is to maximize the 100 longest days of natural sunlight. However, to start this early there needed to also be some other investments in equipment to maximize the growing environment. One of the main items added this year is a quality and reliable heating system.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Heat Wagon Exhaust Pipe: Interior View In an effort to maximize heat to the grow space with the minimum amount of equipment this shows the indirect oil heater inside the growing structure. All that is needed is an exhaust pipe to remove the exhaust gasses to the outside (which is much better than the traditional style torpedo heater). As a result this heater only produced hot air that does not contain any combustion waste products. So, no harmful substances are added, but also CO2 is not added. The bend fitting it to compensate for the slight unevenness to ensure the exhaust pipe is exiting level and can be properly fixed to the structure. The pipe containing the exhaust gases does get warm, but it helps maximize the heat added to the grow space before it exits.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Heat Wagon Exhaust Pipe: Outside Look While the rain cap may only need to be at least an inch from the plastic, there were some unknowns when mounting so the longest (five feet) exhaust pipe was purchased. This resulted in the stack being a little higher than originally thought, but there is no negative of this extended height so no need to make any extra modifications. It also helps ensure that even if the plastic moves in the wind there is no chance of it coming in contact with the exhaust pipe.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Heat Wagon Installation Angle This shows the heater pointed in the plants general direction, which is the lower point of elevation in the structure. Since heat naturally wants to rise pointing the initially hot air to the lower point will help create a natural convection current. There will be fans running as well to help this natural air mixing to avoid stratification. Another advantage to having the heater “inside” is as long as the thermostat is operational there is no risk of the fuel freezing or gelling since the will be kept well above the critical 32F (0C or 273K) temperature. While the thermostat does include gradations and numbers, it is important to use these as suggestion and take the time to set it up with an independent thermostat for accuracy.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Test of the Heater System One cold morning a test run was conducted. After an entire night of cold this test occurred in the pre-dawn hours (disregard the time on the meter). The intention was to allow the environment to cool down to represent the worst case scenario to truly test the heating abilities of the heater. Test Conditions: When: Pre-dawn hours (the coldest time of the day) Settings: Thermostat set to 44F (6.6C) (these reading tend not to be accurate) Outside Temperature: 34.3F (1.3C) Results: Heater comes on at 48.2F (9C) (so this is the minimum temperature that the grow space will reach) and it takes 9min. for the heater to turn off and at this time the inside temperature rose 6.3F (3.5C) to 54.5F (12.5C). So, even though this may be the small heater it can get the inside temperature to 54.5F (12.5C) even when the outside temperature is only 34.3F (1.3C). Summary: All looks good and knowing there is the ability to maintain the temperature at least 20F (11C) higher than the outside temperature provides some reassurance that an early start can take place with minimal risk of cold damage to the plant with the new heating system.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Structure Ventilation Is Important While there was extra attention spent on the heating this year, it is also important to remember the ventilation as well. Last year, this system worked out well it will be implemented the same way this year. There is a Motorized Shutter Kit for 12-60 in. shutters, #1260 Motor that is rigged to a 48” (123cm) aluminum high velocity shutter vent (Specifically: Dayton 48” Backdraft Damper model # 4FZJ2). This is initiated by a thermostat that will open the shutters and also turn on the large 42” (107cm) (Dayton outdoor mobile air circulator) exhaust fan at the same time located on the opposite end of the structure. Since the goal is to move the most air inside passively there are two of these “intake” shutters installed on the Southern facing end wall and one “exhaust” directly in front of the exhaust fan on the Northern end wall. All three are the same size. While these move a lot of air the goal was to just move air and not bring in bugs from the outside during the venting process. To do this insect netting was installed.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
Insect Netting “Filter” For Ventilation This is the same 48” (123cm) shutter vent looking from the outside of the structure. However, there is a white box around the vent. This is made of 1” (2.54cm) PVC pipe that has snap clamps installed to hold the insect netting. Since the insect netting is very fine (Protek Net Insect Netting in the 25 gr model) the netting area needed to be increased more than just the surface of the vent to not have a restricted air flow. By having essentially five sides the air can easily move though the netting and enter the structure insect free.
 
Wednesday, April 1 View Page
April 1st, 2020: Current Set-up All Going To Plan So, far things are going to plan. It still takes time to get all of the needed tasks completed, but as one item gets checked off the list, there is another right behind it to ensure if there are any issues there can be some time to make adjustments if needed.
 
Thursday, April 2 View Page
First Woodchuck of the Season This one was not seen in the patch, but was in the area so it is now in an area far way from giant pumpkins. Odds are there is another one, but it looks to be a yearling so it is officially spring time.
 
Saturday, April 4 View Page
Indoor: 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Plant Update The foliar applications of Epsom Salts (at a rate of 2TBS/gallon) is keeping the plant green and avoiding the yellowing of leaves. Note this is the highest recommended rate for foliar applications and is only recommended when an issue is noticed. At this young and tender plant stage the risk to foliar damage with high product rates is increased, so make foliar applications with caution. All applications are made as a fine mist and at times of low light intensity.
 
Saturday, April 4 View Page
630watt CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide) Grow Light This light while working in the image ends up failing for some unknown reason. CMH lighting does offer some advantages of being full spectrum and also producing UV light but if the ballast is not functional than all the benefits are null and void
 
Wednesday, April 8 View Page
600watt HPS (High Pressure Sodium) Replacement Grow Light This is the replacement for the CMH light and while it is the same wattage, it is a High Pressure Sodium (HPS) light which produces a different spectrum. It has much stranger red/orange tones that are not thought of to be idea for early growth, but in this case some light of high intensity is better than no light. The intention is to maintain a more summer like photoperiod (duration of light) to help the plant have an aggressive growth pattern of development.
 
Thursday, April 9 View Page
HPS (High Pressure Sodium) Set-up Daytime Image Here the plastic from the top has been removed for a few reasons… 1.) Increase the amount of light (PAR) that gets to the pumpkin plant. 2.) Prevent the plastic from burning due to the heat from the light 3.) The bottom is kept sealed to prevent the CO2 from being lost 4.) Still allow the venting of the hottest air inside the structure
 
Friday, April 10 View Page
Indoor: 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Plant With 500 Watts of Heat With the early start cold temperatures were expected. However, it seems this year is especially cold so the watts of heat has been increased to 500 watts (up from 200watts). With a blanket and tarp over the cold frame and the heaters running, the temperature was kept warm 60-70F (15-21C). Also, since it is still early in the season light is being supplemented to replicate a May/June photoperiod to help further encourage growth. However, the heaters alone do not add any light to provide control over the photoperiod and temperature independently. At this time, the indirect heater is not being used because this plant is still inside the small structure. Due to the smaller sized are it is more efficient to just heat this smaller volume. However, with the data collected and equipment in place it will be a simple “flip of a switch” to use the larger indirect heater. Once the plant outgrows its current structure the electric heat will be replaced with the indirect heater which requires diesel fuel. The goal is for the plant not to have any noticeable changes in environmental conditions despite the change in heat source. The plant is on the ground and running so the goal is to keep a good thing going which is the reason for the supplemental light and heat (not to mention CO2 enrichment).
 
Saturday, April 11 View Page
Outdoor Seed Starting Day: 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg (F: 1756 Howell/Jolivette x M: 1625 Gantner) *Note this is the same seed as the Indoor Plant, but this one has been started a full month later March 11th vs April 11th). Each will be continually identified as indoor or outdoor plant so it is clear which plant is being referred to. Notice how the seed packet is on the right side of the cup compared to the indoor plant where it was on the left;-)
 
Sunday, April 12 View Page
High Wind Warning Calling all clips needed! With high winds predicted (40+mph or 65+kph) with higher gusts and having a slight issue with another recent wind storm extra new clips were purchased and arrived just on time. It seems these clips work great for a season but when used for a second year some loose the full holding strength. Adding more clips will help, since it is all about strength in numbers. Each is sized for the metal hoop and about 4” long which is an ideal size for an easy and quick application. Also, at the end of the season this size is manageable to remove as much longer would be even hard to remove (risking breaking them) and longer ones may not be able to match the curve of the hoop very well reducing the maximum holding power.
 
Sunday, April 12 View Page
New 20 Pound CO2 Bottle and Regulator The plant seems to be using more CO2 now than it did a week ago as the regulator seems to be running more to try and maintain the pre set level of 850-950ppm. The plant has grown in physical size so it is able to assemble more carbon based sugars now, than it did just a week ago, so an increase in carbon dioxide consumption is to be expected. This is a 20lb compressed carbon dioxide bottle which makes for easy exchanges. There is a metal stake in the ground with a green metal core wire and plywood on the bottom. This system makes for a safe and secure location because if the bottle was to tip over and break the top off it would essentially be a very dangerous and destructive missile.
 
Sunday, April 12 View Page
Indoor: 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Is On The Run Despite the cold weather and lack of sun the plant is on the ground and starting to vine. Root nodes along the main vine have been covered to help encouraged rooting to help the plant update more water and nutrients. The hope is to provide the plant with good early structure to allow for exponential growth in the future.
 
Sunday, April 12 View Page
Fertilizer Line-up Here are the core fertilizers used during the first month of growth. Age Old Grow (12-6-6)- Great general fertilizer that is high in Magnagnese (Mn) (based on tissue test results). Even through the label does not state high Mn, remember the label is only required to state guaranteed minimums and based on the data collected via giant pumpkin plant tissue testing, there is much more than stated on the label in this product. For giant pumpkin growers in particular this is a good thing and this fertilizer will be used over the course of the entire growing season but it is used more regularly early on in development. Growth Products (12-12-12)- This came highly recommended and it is used in about a 2:1 rotation to Age Old Grow. (Meaning after two Age Old Grow applications one triple 12 application will be made). Epsom Salt- Always seems there is an issue early in the season with Sulfur so this is the go to fertilizer. Typically a rate of 2TBS per gallon is used as both a drench and foliar application which seems to correct any early season yellowing that may occur. Origin 360- This is the source of amino acids and is used now, but will be used in greater quantities after the first month of growth. The idea is to apply some now, but increase application frequency when the plant gets growing and demands and stresses become greater on the plant. Note, this product will increase the pH of the nutrient solution. This is not a bad situation in most cases, just something growers should be aware of.
 
Sunday, April 12 View Page
Outside Plant Site Before Turning on Soil Heating Cables Even though the cold frame has been assembled, and in place for a few days and it has been quite warm in there the critical root zone temperature clearly is still in winter mode only being 46F (7.8C). This shows the importance of getting the root zone temperature heated up before the plant goes in to help ensure it can be off to a strong start.
 
Monday, April 13 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Germination Great to see two nearly identical radicals! Only took about 36 hours from the initial filling so let the outdoor plant comparison begin.
 
Thursday, April 16 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Emergence Only about 100 hours (4.5days) from filing the seed and 72 hours (3 days) from germination the cotyledons are above the soil and expanding. These are under an HPS light which is the reason for the orange coloration in the image. This may not be the ideal spectrum for the plants, but they are not under this light for very long so it severs the purpose of hardening the plant off so it is field ready. The ballast has a dimmer option and the height can also be adjusted allowing for a balance of light intensity and heat to be achieved.
 
Saturday, April 18 View Page
Cold Day For April only 33F or (0.5C) This is an unusually cold day in April for southern New England, especially for a daytime temperature. Luckily, there are heaters for the indoor plant and the outdoor plant has not been planted just yet so it is not subject to these temperatures.
 
Thursday, April 23 View Page
Soil Warmed Up 76F (24.4C) Takes about three days for the heating cables to bring up and stabilize the soil temperature, but giving it a few extra days helps ensure the thermostat is working and the entire area has a chance to warm up and stay at this temperature. Looks like all systems are a “go”.
 
Thursday, April 23 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Planting Today is planting day and just like with the indoor plant one line of the heating cable is found and also checked to make sure it is warm and that the roots will have direct contact with this heat source.
 
Thursday, April 23 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Root Inspection Overall, just like the indoor plant the roots look great and the timing is also perfect to maximize the container but still avoid root bound issues. This is part of the reason why setting everything up ahead of time is so important so when the plant is ready it can progress to the next step. It is the growers’ job to be one step ahead and let the plants dictate the exact timing.
 
Thursday, April 23 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Installed Since this plant is small it is encircled with some black decorative garden fencing. This will be used to help support a large white sheet and extra blanket to reduce the total volume of air that needs to be heated, instead of the entire plastic enclosure. This is how only two 100-watt reptile ceramic heaters can sufficiently warm the plant and environment, even on the coldest of nights.
 
Saturday, April 25 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: 1 Month Head Start Comparison While the outdoor plant has recently been planted, this indoor plant has just outgrown its 5ft x 9ft cold frame. The supplemental light has served its purpose and will be taken down soon as well. With the recent weather it is reassuring to know that the heater is functional because it will likely be running quite frequently based on the weather forecast.
 
Thursday, April 30 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Data Collection Getting an idea of the growing environment with meters is an unbiased method for double checking to make sure all environmental factors are being maximized for plant production. The small round black tubing is CO2 delivery tubing and the numerous flat black “lines” are the drip irrigation. In addition, a quick and “point in time” soil moisture meter is also installed. The plan is to also use a multi-sensor digital moisture meter, but this is just a good way to get a quick reading from different points in the structure to help ensure consistency. Also, there is a thermometer to see what the temperature is at soil and plant heights to help determine if stratification is occurring despite the use of multiple fans. Based on the current reading the mixing of air is going to plan.
 
Friday, May 1 View Page
May 1st Patch Update Not much has changed from a visual standpoint, but from the plants point of view there has been a lot of changes.
 
Friday, May 1 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: May 1st Update This plant still has some fainter green color than what would be considered normal, but the feeding of Epsom salts at a rate of 2TBS/gallon is slowing helping the greening process. The third true leaf is looking more normal in coloration indicating the continued fertilizer application is improving new growth.
 
Friday, May 1 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: May 1st Update The task of vine burying has begun for the indoor plant and it is only the first of May. Starting a month early has thrown off the normal plant tasks based on the calendar. This has cause more of a read the plant and do what it needs type of management which helps keep the main priority tasks at the top of the list.
 
Friday, May 1 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: May 1st Leaves Look Great Overall, the plant is behaving well and the growth and coloration look great, even despite the poor weather conditions (cool temperatures and lack of sun). The weed block has to continually be moved back indicating that the plant is actively growing.
 
Saturday, May 9 View Page
May 9th Snow? This is very unusual for this area, but this just required an extra walk-around check to make sure all the heaters were running. All the plants were thinking during this storm is… Where is the sunlight? Since the temperature was not an issue.
 
Saturday, May 9 View Page
Indoor and Outdoor Temperature Comparison This data logging thermometer was just installed to get an idea of the indoor and outdoor temperatures. The placement of the sensors is important for accurate readings and this just shows the temperature advantage the structure provides. Note: LF = Inside Temperature (50.7F or 10.4C) RT = Outside Temperature (37.0F or 2.8C)
 
Saturday, May 9 View Page
Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Reading = 955ppm Here is the current reading of the CO2 levels in the structure which is 955ppm. The goal is right around 1000ppm so things are operating just fine. This Titan Digital CO2 Controller (Atlas 8) has an automatic shut off when my exhaust cooling fan comes on so the carbon dioxide is not wasted. The 50lb compressed CO2 bottle is located right behind the controller and is changed about once every 7 days. The actual interval is based more on the weather as if the exhaust fan runs more the CO2 bottle will last longer due to the automatic shut off built into the system.
 
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
Regulator Failure Leading to Freeze-up This is what happens when the CO2 regulator valve gets stuck open and literally dumps the bottle of compressed CO2 quickly. There is a strong cooling effect that causes freezing to occur and this only compounds the problem. So, what happens when CO2 is released unregulated? How high would the ppm be in the structure? Check out the next post…
 
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
Current Reading After Regulator Fail The regulator valve would not close causing what was left in the 50lb CO2 bottle to enter the grow space. (Luckily an entire bottle was not wasted.) The controller reads 3016ppm which is three times the level that the preset is for. However, levels over 5000ppm are considered to be dangerous for humans so even at this 3x the preset level is still not a hazard to being in the structure. For comparison normal (natural) levels of CO2 are around 405ppm and the target level is 1000ppm.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Outdoor Amendment Adding The same process was carried out for the indoor plant earlier in the year but the mid-day sun during the applications for the outdoor plant shows the soil surface well. Weed black is laid out well in advance to kill and of the weeds and grass that starts growing. This results a nice clean and level soil surface for amendment applications.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Outdoor Soil Close-up Before Tilling This shows the even spread of amendments on the surface of the soil. This comes from learning how the spreader feeds each amendment. Based on the particle size and density it can impact how the fertilizer will spread. The goal is for an even application of all amendments over the entire growing area.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Sulfate of Potash 0-0-50 This is applied based on soil test results, but no single application should be made that is over 25 pounds per 1000sq.ft. If your growing sites needs more than this rate, split the applications between plant starting time and when the vines begin to run. The reason for this is to reduce the overall stress on the plant as high application rates of potassium can impact other nutrients (Ex. Calcium) availability to the plant.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Humic Acid This is a general soil additive that helps overall soil condition. It does not add any specific nutrients but can help availability of some nutrients and overall soil structure. It is a fine black dust so try not to make applications during windy times.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Alfalfa Meal (Horse Feed) This is another example of adding a product that does not offer much of the macronutrients that a plant needs, but has other benefits. While there is some nitrogen the key with alfalfa is the presence of the plant hormone triacontanol in addition to some other plant and microbe supporting properties.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Greensand While many growers add this for the potassium it has, the potassium it does have is very slowly available. For pumpkins this potassium could be considered minimal and should not be counted on due to the high requirements of a pumpkin plant. However, the inherent sand properties along with micronutrients are worth the time it takes to apply this product.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Kelp When in doubt, add some kelp;-) This is something that is hard to over add, and does offer many advantages. Micronutrients and hormones are the main benefits. Also, kelp can be added in season to both the soil and actively growing plant so it makes for a good product to have on hand.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Ferrous Sulfate This should be applied based on soil test values to help keep nutrients in balance. Not much is needed and it should be used with some caution as it could alter the pH of soils if overly applied.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Zinc (Zn) Just a micronutrient that is know to be low based on soil and tissue testing so in an attempt to be proactive some is added to the soil at the start of the season.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Copper (Cu) Native soils are known to be low in copper so it seems each year some is added to help try and elevate the levels.
 
Saturday, May 16 View Page
Boron (B) The goal is not to just “add nutrients” but work on balancing the nutrients in the soil. Adding boron in relation to Ca is a good stating place with the intention to be about 1000:1 Ca:B ratio. This means if your Ca value was 2300ppm the goal Boron level should be 2.3ppm
 
Sunday, May 17 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Plant Looking Good This plant has a few secondary vines that have reached the edge of the greenhouse which indicates they are about 15ft. long as the structure is 32ft wide. The open female flower is not a planned keeper but is 18ft out on the main vine. The clear umbrella is the location of the CO2 sensors to keep them dry because there is a mister that comes on 5 times a day to help offer some cooling and humidity to help maintain soil moisture. Based on the look and feel of the soil while vine burying the irrigation system seems to be working out well.
 
Sunday, May 17 View Page
Structure Equipment Here there are four key pieces of equipment to help maximize the growing conditions. Large Yellow Fan- This is the main exhaust fan that is a Dayton 42” Outdoor Mobile Air Circulator. It has a low and high setting. The low setting is used early in the season and then when more air is needed to be moved, the fan will be set on high to aid in the cooling process. The thermostat that controls the fan is left the same setting to come on at 85F (30C), only the fan speed is adjusted with faster speed when the temperature is foretasted to be warm during most of the day. White Indirect Heater- This heater is also on a thermostat to help ensure the temperature does not dip below 50F (10C) even on the cold nights. This run off diesel fuel and produces only hot air as the exhaust is vented out the stove pipe outside the structure. This makes in the inside more pleasant for the pumpkin plant and grower compared to a traditional torpedo heater. Senninger Upright Mini-Wobbler Mister (Nozzle #7 Lime)- Since no rain can fall inside the structure a mister has been added that comes on five times a day for 5min each time to help increase the humidity and also add some cooling. 50lb CO2 Bottle- This bottle contains 50lbs of CO2 when new, but weighs in around 170 pounds when the wight of the bottle is also taken into account in addition to the actual CO2. It can be a little bit of a hassle to pick-up, move in and out of the structure but based on the plant growth it is worth it.
 
Wednesday, May 20 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Hot Day Looking at the plant in the image there is no indication how hot the temperature is. All of the plant leaves are turgid, soil surface is moist and there is no burn. This is a good sign that despite being in the plastic structure all systems are working together to help maintain good growing conditions with minimal stress to the plant.
 
Wednesday, May 20 View Page
Hot Day = Gas Expansion Normal bottle pressure is about 700psi, but when the bottle is in a hot environment in full sun the pressure can increase to what is seen here to be 1300psi. Still in the safe zone, but just shows Gay-Lussac’s Gas Law in action. (This law states that the pressure of a given amount of gas held at constant volume is directly proportional to the Kelvin temperature. With an increase in temperature, the pressure will go up.)
 
Friday, May 22 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Pollination Day Overall nice looking (symmetrical 5-lobe) flower. This will be a self cross because the outdoor plant is not at the stage of producing male flowers as of yet. Since each plant was stared a month apart self crosses were going to be the likely result, but given the opportunity a sibling crosses would have been made.
 
Friday, May 22 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Pollen Transferred About three male flowers were used. While one has more than enough pollen a little extra will not hurt anything and this can only improve the odds of a successful pollination. When the pumpkin is an “ideal spot” anyway to increase the odds of pollination are welcomed. Keep in-mind that while pollinating the lower portions should be targeted first as this is the area closest to the nectar and when bees are in flowers this is where they are found.
 
Friday, May 22 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg: Pollen Transferred About three male flowers were used. While one has more than enough pollen a little extra will not hurt anything and this can only improve the odds of a successful pollination. When the pumpkin is an “ideal spot” anyway to increase the odds of pollination are welcomed. Keep in-mind that while pollinating the lower portions should be targeted first as this is the area closest to the nectar and when bees are in flowers this is where they are found.
 
Sunday, May 24 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Last Day In Structure The outdoor plants' secondary vines are starting to touch the sides of the structure and so is the main vine. This means the plant is about 5ft wide and 9ft long and is ready to come out of the protective structure. The dimension of this enclosure are easy with purchased materials that need no modification and the width to length ratio is perfect to ensure no wasted space.
 
Sunday, May 24 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Structure Removed The plant always seems to get smaller once the structure is removed but it is important to try and get all of the side vines buried to stabilize the plant. Wind storms during this time are common which can easily roll a plant making for a difficult early rooting process. The main vine is growing on weed block to try to have a vine to soil barrier. However, holes are punched for each tap root to help allow for rooting, while still minimizing soil to vine contact.
 
Sunday, May 24 View Page
Anthesis Application for Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg The indoor plant received its Anthesis treatment this morning (48 hr post pollination) and there is a white sheet on an umbrella to offer shade on the pumpkin but still allow for air circulation. The clear umbrella has the CO2 sensors which have a built in photo cell to allow dosing only during daylight so this is the reason for the clear umbrella. The intention is to protect the sensors from water (misters) and still have exposure to unfiltered light for proper dosing sequence.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Foam! (On the Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) This cannot be a good sign, there is some foam showing on the main vine near the initial plant site (crown) occurring at a natural hole that developed on the top of the vine. Time to get to work doing some pressure relief work on the vine.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Step 1: Hacksaw Blade Take a hacksaw blade and cut vertically down the center of the vine for about 6-10” depending on the severity of the water accumulation. The goal is to allow water to easily drain and not accumulate in any low spots on the vine. It is hard to see in the image, but soil has been removed below the vine to allow any water that comes out an easy place to go and drain away from the plant.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Step 2: Bamboo Stakes + Fan Put bamboo stakes to ensure the two cut ends remain separated and add a fan to ensure good air circulation. Note: No fungicides have been added the reason is to be able to monitor the issue and there is minimal rot (since this was caught early) so the goal is to solve the physical issue (over accumulation of water) to prevent a fungal issue.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Step 3: Cover and Monitor Add a covering to allow light penetration and to help keep the area to be dry. With the soil removed from under the vine it allows the water to drain easily, and aids in the process of daily visual inspections.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Impressive Bottom Roots: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg This vine recently was covered and the extent of the bottom root development is impressive. The top tap root has not had a chance to reach the soil line, but when the bottom root has that much surface area the plants ability to adsorb water and nutrients is very efficient. This high degree of efficiency may be a contributing factor to the crown foam issue. Many growers want to know what does it take to get roots like this and there is a combination of factors, but the main contributors are carbon dioxide enrichment and the addition of CloneX gel while maintaining even moisture levels. The plant is efficient with the carbon dioxide enrichment which is leading to the ability for more carbon to be produced in the plant and the hormones (an Auxin in the CloneX gel) really drives cell division of the roots. If a leaf node is missed with a CloneX application it becomes quickly visually evident as the root formation is not nearly as impressive as then it is applied on the same vine. For what ever reason one node is either occasionally missed or it is a poor application point (could be washed off), but this is only in a few isolated cases. This is just a great check to know the impact this application can have because it is labor intensive, but based on the plants response the results justify the costs.
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Impressive Top Root: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg When the vine gets a little older the top tap root can also develop into an impressive structure. While the visual portion does not have the high degree of branching (and surface area) once below the surface is where the net is formed. CloneX gel is also applied to the top tap root and this is a main contributing factor to the impressive structure that is seen in this image. (In addition to the points mentioned in the previous post.)
 
Thursday, May 28 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg With the addition of CloneX gel to the top root there can be a little delay in branching, but once the tip finds the soil there can be a massive increase in branching after this. The key is to keep the area covered and out of direct sunlight. See the below image for just what can happen to the top tap root when conditions line-up.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Foaming Seems to be Stopped on the Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg While the initial steps taken were aggressive it seems the foam has now mostly stopped and the interior portion of the vine is healing over so it looks like this may have saved the main vine of this plant. *Special thanks to Woody Lancaster for the guidance!
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Misting System in Action On the outdoor plant has two sprinklers/misters and only one is used for the indoor plant (due to the minimal chance of high winds blowing the mist away from the leaves). Exact product used… The Senninger Upright Mini-Wobbler are used and work great at 20psi. Nozzles for the outdoor #4 light blue (Flow = 0.5gpm and Diameter = 32ft.) #5 Beige (Flow = 0.75gpm and Diameter = 39ft.) For the indoor one #7 lime (Flow = 1.51gpm and Diameter = 43ft.)
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Misting/Sprinkler Timers and Equipment Independent timers for each sprinkler set-up. One controls the indoor and the other the outdoor system. The indoor mister is run more frequently and is a propagation timer (DIG 710AP) compared to the traditional timer (DIG 710A). Both have a 20psi pressure reducer and a 200mesh filter to avoid issues and offer some degree of redundancy and isolation if needed.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg The pumpkin is well positioned and mill fabric + plywood is installed. There is a 5-gallon paint strainer bag used to help shade the tender skin in addition to the umbrella. This mesh material is used because it also allows for some air circulation around the actual pumpkin.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg The pumpkin is well positioned and mill fabric + plywood is installed. There is a 5-gallon paint strainer bag used to help shade the tender skin in addition to the umbrella. The mesh material is used because it also allows air circulation around the pumpkin.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Leaves Before the Pumpkin Along the Main Vine (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) Overall, the plant looks to be in great shape. Now that there is a pumpkin on the main vine all of this energy will have a storage organ to go to.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Plant Before the Pumpkin (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) On the lower left side, the end of the heater can be seen which is strategically positioned to aim just over the leaves to reduce the chance of physical damage. So, far it has been getting used more than normal with minimal plant damage. This addition is contributing to the exponential plant growth despite the challenging “outdoor” conditions.
 
Saturday, May 30 View Page
Overall plant looks great! (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) Growers can be the most critical judges of their own plants and especially when the grower has a pathology background;-) However, it is difficult to find anything to complain about with this plant/set-up.
 
Sunday, May 31 View Page
Pumpkin Has Noticeably Grown Since Yesterday (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) This is the fun part of the process when you can literally watch the pumpkin grow. This just confirms that while the plant looks healthy it is also very efficient and has found the main pumpkin “sink” to store the sugars produced.
 
Sunday, May 31 View Page
Indoor Outdoor Temperature Comparison LF = Left Sensor = Inside Structure RT + Right Sensor = Outside Structure There is a comparison of the inside and outside temperatures at about 9:30am. With the plant already being exposed to 74F (23C) temperatures this helps ensure a quick start to the continued exponential growing process with minimal slowing. Compared to the outside temperature of 58F (14C).
 
Sunday, May 31 View Page
Under Canopy Image: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Now that the chosen pollination is determined the male flowers can now be culled as they are no longer needed. However, things are looking good over all and this is just an extra step to maximizing efficiency and minimizing energy waste by the plant.
 
Sunday, May 31 View Page
Leaf Complexity: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Here is just an interesting image showing the complexities of a small portion of one leaf. It really is amazing this all forms in such a short period of time.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Past Weeks Low Temps LF = Left Sensor = Inside Structure RT + Right Sensor = Outside Structure The heater prevented the temperature from every getting below 54F despite it being consistently in the 40’sF (~6C) at night. A cool down at night can be beneficial to the plant, but the goal was to have the cool down be no lower than 55F (12C) so it looks like the thermostat is dialed in.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Past Weeks High Temps LF = Left Sensor = Inside Structure RT + Right Sensor = Outside Structure Even though it has been a very cool spring it is important to still have a functional cooling system. When the sun come out mid day breaking through cloud cover the temperature inside the structure can easily spike upwards. So, in addition to the heater there is an independent thermostat to control the exhaust fan. Goal is to not let the temperature get over 90F (32C) so again after some tweaking and adjustments it seems the cooling system is also dialed in.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Plant While the indoor plant is well ahead of schedule here is a look at the outdoor plant. It may not be on the best outdoor plant track, but this is likely a factor of the poor weather (clouds and cool temperatures). Looking at it there is nothing wrong, just looking at past records it should be a little further along.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Foam Inspection Update: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Overall, things continue not to foam, which is great to see. However, it is also important to remember to continually inspect the area to just check to make sure things have not changed.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Overall Plant Update: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Pumpkin is growing and things continue to look good. The heater will soon be removed since it is not needed and the plant is ready to fill-in its physical site with some side vines.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Pumpkin Look: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Here the pumpkin continues to grow and it is continually being moved to reach that ideal 90-degree angle to the main vine. Looks like it will be a long-ish shape.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Stem Cracks Part 1: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Last year this same cracking was noticed and last year the decision was made to remove the pumpkin. However, upon inspection (last year) the interior vascular system was in great shape despite the superficial stem cracks. So, this year despite the scary look to the cracks the pumpkin will be kept on the vine and is the chosen keeper.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Stem Cracks Part 2: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Even though the stem cracks are progressing in length and number this may just be a factor of the active growing process and do not offer any serious threat to the pumpkin.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Why Two Controllers? Even though only one controller is needed, this structure was designed with two controllers with two independent bottles, so the obvious question is… why? Background… The large control has an efficient method of CO2 injection that when my exhaust fan comes on (due to heat) it will not inject CO2. This prevents the CO2 from being exhausted out the structure. This controller is set to maintain about 1000ppm (parts per million). The small controller is set to maintain 400ppm which may seem odd since normal atmospherics CO2 levels are 405ppm. The Reason… While the exhaust fan is on during the heat of the day, the ppm of CO2 was dropping to low 300ppm and at times even 280ppm which are levels low enough that growth can be restricted. The reason is during the heat of the day the plant is using more CO2 that can be brought in through the two large vents causing the levels to drop below atmospheric conditions. So, the small controller will come on to maintain 400ppm even during the heat of the day to help ensure the plant is not carbon hungry. *Both sensors to each controller are mounted physically close to one another so they will not read the exact same ppm, but typically they read with-in 75ppm.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Double Bottle System Since the larger sensor is carrying the bulk of the CO2 enrichment it is hooked up to the larger (50lb) bottle. To maintain about 1000ppm this bottle needs to be changed about once every 7-9 days depending on the weather. The smaller bottle (20lb) is attached to the small sensor and is used to help maintain 400ppm in the structure at all times. This is also weather dependent on usage but typically it will last 10-12 days. Both have the same regulator and are chained to the scaffolding structure. The door is right next to them to allow changes to be as easy as possible. The plywood they are sitting on also help move the old one out and the new one in. The clear umbrella allows for continual regulator monitoring and water protection from the misting system.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
CO2 Bottle Label The key is not to let the bottles get over 52C/125F. In the heat of the day the pressure inside the bottle will noticeably increase. Also, be careful when opening the vale to flush out ant particulates as there is a rapid cooling effect and frostbite can occur. Other than this CO2 is basically an inert gas.
 
Tuesday, June 2 View Page
Foam Inspection Update: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Continual inspection is important…. Even if you come to the conclusion… “All is good.”
 
Saturday, June 6 View Page
Pumpkin Taking Shape: Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Overall, the pumpkin is starting to gain some height. To help lift the main vine and to ensure mice do not become an issue two ultrasonic sonicators have been added to deter mice. Growers often ask if these are effective and based on past experience these are the only device that will stop a mouse from eating a pumpkin so as a preventative they work even better. However, even though it is a sound-based product, sound at this wavelength does not behave like we may think. Typically, you can have one speaker in a large room and still be able to hear it through out the room. Well at the ultrasonic sonication level sound behaves more like a laser beam of light so the “speaker” needs to point directly at the area you want the sound to be heard. This is part of the reason why each ultrasonic sonicator has three “speakers” pointed at different angles as this helps increase the area of effectiveness.
 
Tuesday, June 9 View Page
Plant Update: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Overall, the outdoor plant has been consistent which is nice to see. There is a pumpkin on the vine which could be the keeper, but the plant is just starting to get its secondary vines going, so time will tell. The large sections of weed block are removed as the side vines grow out but the 3ft wide section under the main vine will remain for the season. Also, one of two mister/sprinklers can be seen which will aid in plant cooling only. The drip tapes are what will be used as the source of irrigation.
 
Tuesday, June 9 View Page
CO2 Sensor placement Sensors are only as good as their placement. There are two in the image each going to the previously mentioned independent controllers. There is one directly above the other so with CO2 being heavier than air knowing this placement there will be some differences expected in the readings. Typically, each sensor reads with-in 75ppm of the other which is in line with the expectations due to their placement. A clear umbrella is used since each has a photo cell to ensure CO2 dosing only during daylight hours. The umbrella is needed because there is a sprinkler/mister used for cooling and the sensors should not get wet so this is the reason for this placement. Not only are they protected but they are placed at leaf height to ensure the readings generated represent what the plant is exposed to. The dome protection from the umbrella still allow for air circulation so an accurate and consistent reading can be achieved.
 
Tuesday, June 9 View Page
CO2 Bottle Regulator This is a brand-new bottle which has about 1000 psi or about 7000kPa of pressure. This will change over the course of the heating of the day, but when a new bottle is installed these are the expected values to ensure a truly full (50 pounds) of CO2 is ready to go. The flow rate is adjusted to be around 9 cubic feet because if the flow is to fast it can lead to regulator freezing even in the hot greenhouse environment. Also, a low flow rate would mean it would run all the time and not allow for the structure to reach the pre-set 1000ppm level. This is attached to 100ft of rain tubing, which is small diameter tubing with basically pin holes in it at regular intervals. This is placed on the ground in a large triangle shape under the leaf canopy to allow for even distribution to the plant. In addition, a fan is running to help keep the CO2 mixing around the plant. Considering the entire system, it seems the regulator is the weak point as more than one of these has failed. Despite purchasing the “higher end” regulators and changing brands there seem still to be issues. As a result, a few spares are kept on hand to allow for a quick change if needed.
 
Wednesday, June 10 View Page
Electric Fence Set-Up With the indoor plant well protected it is important not to forget about the outdoor plant. Records show that this is around the time the squirrels have been known to start damaging the plants. In addition, the female flowers are starting to show so the fence also helps ensure some extra protection. Specifically, this is a positive negative fence netting material that is 28” tall. The basics of this type are that the squirrel can complete the circuit through the net, as it only needs to touch two of the wires. The more common type of electric fence/net requires the animal to touch both the fence and the ground at the same time, since the fence only has a positive charge. Powering this fence is an AC powered Kencove Low-Impedance Electric Fence Energizer rated at 4.0 Joule output. While this amount of power is overkill, there has been no negative impacts noticed. (Just to not touch it or pee on it;-) The reading on the digital voltmeter is 8,600 volts which should be enough to keep out animals up to an including Woolly Mammoths according to a fellow farmer. (Note for some of the more persistent species such as wild hogs and bears the recommended minimum voltage is 5,000volts.)
 
Wednesday, June 10 View Page
Electric Fence Set-Up With the indoor plant well protected it is important not to forget about the outdoor plant. Records show that this is around the time the squirrels have been known to start damaging the plants. In addition, the female flowers are starting to show so the fence also helps ensure some extra protection. Specifically, this is a positive negative fence netting material that is 28” tall. The basics of this type are that the squirrel can complete the circuit through the net, as it only needs to touch two of the wires. The more common type of electric fence/net requires the animal to touch both the fence and the ground at the same time, since the fence only has a positive charge. Powering this fence is an AC powered Kencove Low-Impedance Electric Fence Energizer rated at 4.0 Joule output. While this amount of power is overkill, there has been no negative impacts noticed. (Just to not touch it or pee on it;-) The reading on the digital voltmeter is 8,600 volts which should be enough to keep out animals up to an including Woolly Mammoths. (Note for some of the more persistent species such as wild hogs and bears the recommended minimum voltage is 5,000volts.)
 
Saturday, June 13 View Page
Main Vine Snap on the Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg When inspecting the plants today this was noticed and it is a little perplexing. Earlier in the week there were strong winds and the plant did just fine. This seemed to occur for no reason overnight. The flower in the image has not opened yet and based on this turn of events if it does not take the next flower will be quite a wait on a retrained vine so hopefully this is “the chosen one”.
 
Saturday, June 13 View Page
Main Vine Clean Cut on the Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Seeing the vine snap just past the flower, the decision was made to just make a clean cut about one inch past the flower. This will signal to the plant that the secondary in the image is now the main growing tip.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Unusual Cold Night in min- June It has been unusually cool here this year and the forecast is calling for it to be closer to 40F (4.5C) than it should be for this time of year so the heater was pulled out of storage and set-up to keep the indoor plant no lower than 54F (12C). The indirect heater in the image worked great in the early spring and performed well and now it is being used again in a slightly different set-up due to the bigger plant inside the structure. This style of heater is a great improvement over the traditional style exhaust-based torpedo heaters since it just produces warm air with no negative combustion by-products. It can also be directed via the ducting into the structure allowing for greater application flexibility.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Indoor View of the 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Here is a look at the inside with the heater flex tubing piped in and positioned to not directly come in contact with the plant. Before the sun set a test was run and in short, all systems are a go and this should help avoid any potential slow down due to the cool temperatures forecasted. The testing was to ensure the thermostat was properly placed to provide an accurate reading and that the heated air was not giving a false high reading when the heater was on while also provide a true plant temperature. This was not expected to be a problem this late in the year, but the components just need some adjustments to work properly.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Under Canopy View of the Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg For the current time of year and especially considering the weather this plant is performing very well. This is just an under-canopy view to show all of the weeds missed and the leaves operating at maximum efficiency of coverage with minimal overlap.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Control Center Under the scaffolding, there is a protected area and as a result this is where most of the equipment and controls end up. The two CO2 controls are mounted in the back and then there is an oscillating fan to help the even distribution of the CO2. Then there is the thermostat for the heater, mounted around plant height. Out of the image, but on top of this structure is the exhaust fan to ensure if the sun comes out the structure will not run the risk of overheating.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Insect Netting To help create a bug free environment over both of the intake vents and the exhaust vents large box frames are created to allow insect netting to be attached to. It is important to create this extra box and not simply put a sheet of insect netting over the vent because a simple sheet would restrict the air flow greatly. A fine mesh material is used to exclude even small insects so by creating this large surface area of material the flow of air is not restricted. Insect netting specifics: Protek Net Insect Netting in the 25 gr model This is Protek Net Insect Netting in the 25 gr model. Some of the specifications are that it has 0.35mm x 0.35mm mesh size with 62% porosity, 90% light transmission, and a 2-3 year stated lifespan. This fine mesh was selected to provide a physical barrier to small insects such as aphids, thrips, white flies and mites but required the special boxes to not restrict overall air flow.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Adjustments to Electric Fence for Maximum Performance After setting up the electric fence there were some areas it was touching the ground due to the slope of the patch so some additional PVC supports were put in to make some adjustments. With these changes to avoid any potential grounding and electric loss now the fence is at maximum capacity of 9,800 volts. The goal is to have the voltage the highest early in the season to train any potential intruders early and then as the fence line get harder to maintain the total output will drop. However, monitoring still occurs and the goal is to always have readings of 6,000+ volts. Working with the fence there is a distinctive snap noise that occurs as the energizer pulses. An attentive grower can use this as an early indication of a potential problem and can take corrective measures to minimize the time the fence is not in the intended target voltage range.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Pre-Pollination Protection on the Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Day before pollination preparation and protection. When the entire season depends on a single flower every precaution is taken to help increase the odds of pollination and minimize the potential for damage. There is a blue cup covering the flower to help keep the flower closed to prevent any potential bees from adding pollen. This is weighted down with clothespins. Then this is covered with a 5-gallon paint strainer bag to allow air flow but still provide a physical barrier from insects and small varmints also held down with clothespins.
 
Sunday, June 14 View Page
Continued Pre-Pollination Protection on the Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg As if the protection around the actual pumpkin is not enough there is additional exterior protective measures in place. The main one being an umbrella to offer shade from the sun in addition to helping keep the area dry. Also, this can help provide the main support for a white sheet that can provide extra shade and does not have to come into contact with the pumpkin.
 
Monday, June 15 View Page
Soil Moisture Probe Readings *Do not use these as target numbers for your soil.* There is not an ideal number for everyone to target, this is just provided to show a representation. Seeing how the numbers change can help allow a grower to dial in the “ideal” or “target” numbers for their own particular soil type. About the Set-up: Three sensors were placed at different areas around the indoor plant to provide some data on soil moisture. The indoor plant was selected since there would be no added rain water to alter the results all water is controlled via the drip irrigation system installed. One important factor is to ensure the soil probes are all buried at the same depth and in the same orientation. Then allow them to sit for about 1-2 weeks before collecting data to get more consistent results. Placement of each sensor in relation to the pumpkin plant is provided in the below image but the goal was to get an idea of the three main areas of the pumpkin plant. Sensor A always seemed to read lower (data is two more posts down) so this could be due to its exact placement and particular soil conditions. This is an important note so a growers does not force the numbers to match resulting in more harm than good by over watering just so the soil meters all read the same. For the soil conditions the target range was 22%-24%. This range was decided on by digging in the soil (away from the sensors) and actually feeling the soil to determine when the “ideal” soil moisture was reached and THEN checking the probe readings.
 
Monday, June 15 View Page
Temperature and Relative Humidity The data logger also tracks the temperature and relative humidity. The units position was initially not ideal for these two readings as the main goal was soil moisture so the placement was adjusted to provide more plant representative readings. Putting this on a bamboo stake below the leaf canopy seemed to provide the best readings. What was challenging was the limited placement options due to the fact that all of the soil moisture cords needed to converge in the same point. Since the goal was accurate soil moisture the placement was set to be ideal for soil moisture reading and these two additional data points were bonus. However, it still seemed the relative humidity was consistently higher than expected. (Data table on following post.)
 
Monday, June 15 View Page
Data Table for Indoor Plant Again, use this as a relative guide but it does help in providing some information over two days. Main goal was to see how Sensor A (old plant material) responded to additional irrigation events. General Summary Points… -Sensor A reads consistently lower than Sensor B or C -Sensor A target values for this given situation is 12%-14% -Temperature seems to quickly spike from 9am-10:30am on sunny days however, the cooling fan system seems to be working well as the temperatures did not go much over 90F. -During the heat of the day the relative humidity is the lowest (~3pm) despite running mister/sprinkler system.
 
Thursday, June 18 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg Three days after pollination this shows the set-up used to protect the flower and also how the entire plant looks. This may be a little earlier in both calandar date and distance on the vine than is typical, but the broken main vine has caused a change in the original plans. The goal as growers to is be able to react to what you are given. Also, if the leaves down the center (main vine) of the plant are closely inspected yellowing can be seen. This is the result of the ‘B’ gene also called “precocious yellow”. This not a negative sign just something that seems to be encouraged by colder weather as the indoor plant (of the same genetics) has not shown this at all over the two seasons of indoor growing with supplemental heat. University of New Hampshire has some information on the ‘B’gene on their blog entitled “What's making my squash (or pumpkin) leaves bright yellow??? and can be found at… https://extension.unh.edu/blog/whats-making-my-squash-or-pumpkin-leaves-bright-yellow
 
Friday, June 19 View Page
30% Shade Netting Even though the pumpkin is split before it is removed there some last trials that will be conducted. This shows the shade netting place on the structure and PAR readings (light intensity) readings are being taken to see what impact it may have and what is the best time for it to be applied or removed to ensure the plant is not getting light deprived. Note that in a CO2 enriched environment the plants can actually utilize greater light intensity, so this is the reason for the extra time to take some readings as there is a delicate balance between light and heat in the summer time. The goal is to ensure the light is maximized while still reducing the temperature when possible.
 
Friday, June 19 View Page
Split! (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) Well this is a bit disappointing to see. The indoor grown pumpkin has developed a blossom end split over the last 12-24hours. So, despite everything going so well up to this point it is amazing how quick the season can come to an end. However, to try and gain as much information as possible some trials will be run over the next two weeks to see how the plant/pumpkin respond since there is nothing to loose now. Adjustments will be made to water, fertilizer and CO2 to try and see how the pumpkin growth may be impacted. These may not be formal tests, but now plans have to be made to take down the entire structure and supporting equipment during the heat of summer. Well, at least the days are long this time of year.
 
Friday, June 19 View Page
Trying to Keep Split Dry (Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg) Even though this pumpkin is a loss, with the goal to keep it on the vine for a little longer a fan was placed to try and keep the split area dry and reduce the chance of rot/mold developing.
 
Sunday, June 21 View Page
Outdoor Pumpkin The Last One Left (F: 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self) Since the indoor pumpkin split this is quite the size down grade, but it is also much younger. However, going from the indoor pumpkin that is estimated around 1000 pounds to one that has just started to touch down is quite a difference. Also, since the main vine snapped for some unknown reason this is the “keeper” and now that it is the only pumpkin left, care needs to be taken to set this fruit up for the rest of the season. Pollination Day June 15th, 2020 Anthesis application made 48-hr post pollination on June 17th.
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
Day 11: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self Step 1: Under Pumpkin Care Get a double layer of mill fabric on the ground, then place ¾” plywood on top of that followed by a top double layer of mill fabric. The reason for these multiple layers is it will help make it easier to move the pumpkin later in the season if a situation develops.
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
Day 11: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self Step 2: Shade Structure Anchors To conserve materials the same items used for the early season cold frame are also used for the shade structure over the pumpkin. This works out well on many fronts and reduces the collection of specialized materials. This creates a rectangle that is about 5.5ft wide and 7ft long
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
Day 11: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self Step 3: Install Hoops Since the structure is a little wider than the cold frames the hoops have to take a little reset in their angle. However, they work fine and will allow the initial shade material to be elevated over the pumpkin. *Note the vine on the left-hand side is the “new” main vine.
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
Day 11: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self Step 4: Install White Sheet Here a regular white sheet is place on the structure created. The same PVC clips that hold the plastic earlier in the season are used. As can be seen the sheet does not go all the way to the ground as this helps allow for some added air circulation. The pumpkin will get an additional cover over it as the 5-gallon paint strainer bag has become too small to effectively cover the growing pumpkin.
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
Day 11: Outdoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg x self Step 5: Place White Sheet over Pumpkin This essentially double layer system not only shades the pumpkin but also can help reduce the heat directly applied to the pumpkin which on 90F+ (32C+) days is beneficial to help reduce the chance the pumpkin internally “cooks”. Since the double layer has a physical separation this can also help keep the sheet on the actual pumpkin from getting wet even when it rains.
 
Friday, June 26 View Page
CloneX Root Hormone Results While this plant is being grown in the traditional outside setting (no CO2 enrichment or added heat), by adding the CloneX rooting hormone the increase in roots can still clearly be seen. This portion of the vine had to be lifted to allow the plywood and mill fabric to be properly positioned so even though this is a young root the amount of branching is great to see. Branching really helps increase the surface area of the roots as this is important for absorption. Bigger thicker roots are actually less efficient at nutrient absorption, the key is the fine multi branched roots that allow for more efficient acquisition of nutrients and water for the plant.
 
Sunday, July 5 View Page
Indoor 1989.5 Daletas ’17 dmg = Great Plant, but Split Pumpkin Overall, this plant was near ideal in many aspects. There was plenty of material to support a pumpkin and sadly, this pumpkin split so the plant is being removed much earlier than intended. It is going to take some time to remove all of the plastic, fans, sensors, controllers, purlins, hoops, but this is a quick look from above. The area is about 32ft wide and 40ft long with the plant pruned in the traditional Christmas Tree / Box style with the pumpkin out about 18ft from the initial plant site. Sad to remove everything during the heat of early July and think… what it could have been?
 
Sunday, July 5 View Page
Setting Up Tripod to Get a Weight With most of the plant and structure now removed the tripod was set-up to get a weight on the pumpkin on an inline scale.
 
Sunday, July 5 View Page
Still Young at 44 Days Old Overall, the plant was very symmetrical and the underside smooth and level. This is part due to the mill fabric and plywood base (same as the outdoor pumpkin). The pumpkin was being lifted high enough to get into the trailer. However, instead of a weigh-off it will be heading to a compost pile.
 
Sunday, July 5 View Page
1157.8 uow DeBacco ’20 dmg (Indoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 x self) 15% heavy Days Old: 44 OTT = 359" Est. Weight = 998 pounds Final OTT was 359” for an estimated weight of 998 pounds. Actual weight (with lifting equipment zeroed prior to lifting the pumpkin) was 1157.8 pounds. This means the pumpkin was about 15% heavy and only 44 days old on July 5th. What it would have ended up if allowed to grow to maturity is anyone’s guess, but this does support the idea of starting early and adding heat and CO2 enrichment to help maximize growth.
 
Tuesday, July 7 View Page
Chosen Cover Crop… Grass Seed When a pumpkin plant is removed so early in the season typically regular grass seed is selected to provide an established cover to the soil that will last the rest of the season and also into the winter season. This grass seed has proven effective in the past so there is still some left in the bag so it will continue to be used again.
 
Tuesday, July 7 View Page
Grass Seed Blend Since it seems the actual varieties of grass used can change here is the label to provide the specific blend used as the chosen cover crop.
 
Tuesday, July 7 View Page
Grass Seed Blend Since it seems the actual varieties of grass used can change here is the label to provide the specific blend used as the chosen cover crop.
 
Tuesday, July 7 View Page
Grass Seed Applied and Irrigation Set-up It is important to get even grass seed coverage and also have a sufficient method of irrigation as water is critical to germination and early establishment of the grass seed.
 
Tuesday, July 7 View Page
Everything Raked In Now with everything is raked in the irrigation timer is set, this area is now all set so the remaining pumpkin plant can get the attention it needs.
 
Monday, August 3 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) *Anthesis Treated* Day: 49 OTT: 395” Est. Weight: 1317 pounds While the indoor pumpkin and plant was one of (if not the) best preforming plant on record, the outdoor one cannot be forgotten. It has been getting all of the required vine burying and fertilizer/fungicide applications. However, it was a bit of a transition to go from a 1,100+ pound pumpkin to one that was under 100 pounds, but now it tapes bigger than the indoor pumpkin about 1-month later. It was almost like having another growing season. Also, with the main vine breaking just past the female flower, the pruning method had to be adjusted so some vines have been swept forward and some tertiaries have been allowed to grow to help fill in the allowed area. The pumpkin is also on a down hill slope so the overall shape has been impacted, but the color will be orange! The leaves look to be in great shape, but with this pruning method things will likely get a little messy as the season progresses.
 
Tuesday, August 4 View Page
Tropical Storm Isaias: Uprooted Tree This storm was a surprise with how much wind it had and sadly with what little rain it had (which is much needed). Due in part to the dry soil many trees have fallen leading to down power lines and cable lines all over the state. Luckily, power was only out for about 2 days here compared to a street away which was out for 6 days. This uprooted tree (house in the background) not only shows the power of the storm, but also how dry the soil is for the entire profile.
 
Wednesday, August 5 View Page
Tropical Storm Isaias: High Winds There is a down tree in neighbor’s yard and both shade protecting umbrellas… need replacement. What was odd is the shade structure that is over the pumpkin was completely lifted out of the anchors and into the air then carried about 50ft away from the pumpkin patch. There was no damage done but it was odd when looking out and seeing the structure missing. The clips held the sheet just fine and everything was still attached when found in the new location. So, this made the set-up process very easy and no harm to the pumpkin itself.
 
Wednesday, August 5 View Page
Tropical Storm Isaias: Day After, Plant Looks Good, But… In the image the plant looks great, but many vines were uprooted and leaves are curling around to try and reorient themselves toward the sun. Also, in the days following it seems the leaves aged much quicker than would be expected so there were clearly some negative impacts from the storm (wind) on the pumpkin plant that were not initially visible. However, the pumpkin seems to still be growing so hopefully this is just a minor setback.
 
Thursday, August 13 View Page
Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) *Anthesis Treated* Day: 59 OTT: 415” Est. Weight: 1519 pounds This is only the second time this pumpkin has been measured. Since it is the only one in the patch, it is what it is. The image was taken from the side to try and give an idea of the odd direction it is growing. It is on a hill and is positioned this way because of the broken main prior to pollination. This is not the ideal set-up and has required a few movements/adjustments to both the pumpkin and plywood underneath. The stem is growing down so a hole has been dug and a fan placed on it to keep some air circulation since there is no sunlight on the area to help keep it dry. Inspections are a challenge but at least at the moment things seem to be in good order. This angle provides the best view of the overall shape and the color keeps getting more orange each day which is not common, but great trait to see from the 1989.5 dmg Daletas.
 
Friday, September 11 View Page
Still Growing: Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) Despite not measuring the pumpkin, it is still growing because it is getting closer to the side support for the shade structure. With only one pumpkin in the patch there is no real comparison, and as long as it seems to be growing this is a positive sign.
 
Friday, September 11 View Page
Filled Shade Structure: Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) As harvest time approaches it is nice to see the pumpkin take up almost the entire width of the shade structure that was set up when it was only 11 days old. By utilizing the same materials for the cold frame as the shade structure it helps reduce the total amount of materials that are needed and makes the growing process more efficient.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Crown of Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) The crown of the plant remained in good health for the entire season. It was covered to allow for limited water splash and for easy inspection, but it is great to see it make it to the end of the season in good shape.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Morning Harvest for the Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self) Knowing every pound was needed for a potential personal best, and with a mid-day weigh off the pumpkin was harvested the morning of the event. This required some planning and set-up the day before but everything went as expected. Step one was to remove some of the plant to gain access to the pumpkin. The green trailer (more details on this later) was used to put the plant in so it could be removed from the growing site. Even though there were no major signs of disease or rots, if possible this is a good practice in general.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Tripod Set Up and Trailer is in Position Notice the tripod feet have special larger footprint adaptors to help prevent them from sinking as the pumpkin is lifted. This is the first time using these and this simple addition made the lifting process much easier because in the past the tripod would be going down into the soil as weight was applied instead of the pumpkin going up. With this set-up once the slack was taken out of the straps the pumpkin had a consistent lift which made the loading process more efficient and helps reduce the time the pumpkin spends suspended in the air.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Custom Pallet in Place and Foam Added Once some tension is placed on the straps and things seem in order the trailer is brought into position. The goal is to minimize the time the pumpkin spends suspended. The pallet is strategically placed in the trailer over the axle and foam and padding is added to help reduce the chance of damage during the transportation process. This allows alignment of the pumpkin on the pallet to ensure proper balance on the trailer while towing. While it may appear to be a “normal” pallet it is actually a custom pallet to measure 60” x 60” to help ensure the pumpkin has full contact with the surface. Since the stem ended up curling under the pumpkin it did make the shape a bit odd which in part contributed to the large footprint. However, when a custom pallet has to be constructed, this is a good project to be doing;-)
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Full Set-Up… Ready for the Lift! This image shows all of the supporting components to the great pumpkin lift process. Having a plan ahead of time helps and knowing how each of the different components will be used provide an organized lifting and loading process. Many moving parts, but when it all comes together it is great to see.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Mission Accomplished! With the goal to minimize the time the pumpkin spends in the air there was no time for pictures. However, this shows the final product with the pumpkin safely on the cushioned pallet and ready to be pulled out of the patch and to the weigh-off!
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
“Woodstock Fair” Weigh-off (Alternate Site) 2020 Here is the pumpkin line-up with quite the collection of pumpkins and growers. Here the line-up of pumpkins can be seen. This was a “weigh in the order of arrival” event which made for a great mix of pumpkins and kept things interesting the entire day. All of the planning and coordinating showed as this was a great event to bring a pumpkin to.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Deer Rub The pumpkin will not be spending the night here with this kind of clear sign that there are deer in the area that would surly like the taste of fresh picked pumpkin;-)
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Measuring the Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 (x self): OTT = 440.0” The fine measuring team at the “Woodstock Fair” ensured no bias to the data that was collected for the pumpkin. Based on the rough taping that was done prior to harvesting the numbers obtained matched the “exact estimate” that was gotten in the patch so it is always nice to have a second opinion.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
1885.5 DeBacco ’20 (F: Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 x self) OTT = 440.0” and 5% heavy A new personal best! It is also nice to see an orange pumpkin off of the 1989.5 dmg Daletas which does happen every once in a while. This pumpkin presented many challenges over the course of the season so it was very reward to not only get the pumpkin to the scale but also have it set a new personal best. Some of the challenges included… -Main vine breaking prior to pollination just past the pumpkin which result in this being the only shot at getting a pumpkin on the plant. -Pumpkin growing on a hill causing in part the odd shape. -Stem curling under the pumpkin (resulting in moving the plywood and digging a hole. -Potential calcium deficiency that was corrected but cause some initial worrying cracking, but these healed over after application of a Cal-Mag product. -Loss of a little attention when the indoor plant went down *But in the end the challenges were overcome with a new Personal Best!
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
1885.5 DeBacco ’20 (F: Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 x self) OTT = 440.0” and 5% heavy After all of the excitement at the scale here is an image of the pumpkin after being loaded on the trailer with a different viewing angle. This pumpkin is not only orange but even has some nice starburst speckling. Pumpkin Stats… 1885.5 pounds *Anthesis Applied Days old = 89 Pollinated by self on the main vine Distance out = 15ft. Plant Size = 1000sq.ft.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
1885.5 DeBacco ’20 (F: Outdoor 1989.5 dmg Daletas ’17 x self) OTT = 440.0” and 5% heavy After all of the excitement at the scale here is an image of the pumpkin after being loaded on the trailer with a different viewing angle. This pumpkin is not only orange but even has some nice starburst speckling. Pumpkin Stats… 1885.5 pounds *Anthesis Applied Days old = 89 Pollinated by self on the main vine Distance out = 15ft. Plant Size = 1000sq.ft.
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
“Woodstock Fair” Results Great to see the collection of pumpkin at this event! Also, the top-3 were all personal bests, but there may be 5 total or more personal bests set at this event. Placing first was unexpected but this along with a new personal best were both welcomed surprises!
 
Saturday, September 12 View Page
Great Shirt for 2020 While there was no prize money, at the event there was a Woodstock Fair Blue Ribbon, GPC plaque and this shirt awarded to me for winning. While the blue ribbon is great to put on the wall, and many people have commented about this shirt and really liked it. This simply goes to show that it is all about the unit of measurement you use;-)
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
The Tail of Two Trailers It seems the questions about the trailers is on the rise from growers so in the next few postings details about why two are used will be provided along with measurements for reference. Short summary… Aluminum Trailer = “Show” Trailer, widest trailer that still has the full bed between the wheel wells. Green Dump Trailer = “Work” Trailer, has a hydraulic ram to make the unloading process as easy as the push of a button and it also has no trailer brakes for reduced maintenance.
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
H&H Aluminum Solid Side Utility Trailer = Overview and Specifications This trailer was purchased when there was a pumpkin in the patch that was greater than 5ft wide so it would not fit in the other (green/work) trailer. This is the widest trailer that still has the bed between the wheel wells to keep it as low as possible for easy loading and viewing. It is considered to be the “show” trailer as the all-aluminum design (with some special options) makes it look professional. The trailer does not weigh very much and with a single hay bale in the back it is perfectly balanced to make manually moving it around the driveway very easy. (Note: This is in part due to the optional aluminum deck.) Trailer Specifics: Inside Bed With = 82” Inside Bed Length = 121” Total Trailer Width (tire sidewall to tire sidewall) = 102” Total Trailer Length (tongue to tailgate
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
H&H Aluminum Solid Side Utility Trailer = Options While the standard version of this trailer is great, this one was purchased with some additional options that included… 1.) All aluminum bed (instead of the stock wooden floor)- While this was by far the most expensive option it is well worth it in the long run. There is the overall weight savings in addition to the lack of need to worry about board rotting over the long term are great benefits. It also provides a better overall look to the entire trailer since this is typically hauling the bigger pumpkins. 2.) 2x4 side rail pocket holders- While these have not been used, it does help provide additional tie down points and are good to have “just in case”. 3.) Bifold Full Aluminum Tailgate- Having a solid tail gate that is aluminum means it does not weigh all that much and the fact that it is solid makes loading and unloading items simply easier than the standard tail gate that has spaces. 4.) Aluminum Wheels- Hard to see in this image, but the wheels are also aluminum to simply create a cohesive and professional appearance. 5.) Tongue support- There is both a wheel (optional) and a flat foot tongue support. The wheel makes moving easy and the flat foot helps hold it in place once positioned.
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
Bri-Mar DTR Low Pro Dump Trailer = Overview and Specifications This trailer is about 14 years old and is the “work” trailer. It has been used to haul pumpkins (typically under 1600 pounds), remove plant material and bring in compost. Since it is a dump trailer the hardest part is the loading process, since the unloading process is as simply as hitting a button. Waxing the sides and the floor are helpful when it comes to removing compost from the bed, but using a plastic snow shovel can help dislodge clumps of compost that stick without damaging the bed. Trailer Specifics: Inside Bed With = 60” Inside Bed Length = 96” Total Trailer Width (tire sidewall to tire sidewall) = 81” Total Trailer Length (tongue to tailgate) = 142” Height of side walls = 17.5” *It holds about 2 cubic yards of material if fully filled and level.
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
Bri-Mar DTR Low Pro Dump Trailer = Options While this trailer does not have any special options (other then selecting the green color which was an option at the time of purchase) it has proven to be reliable over the years of use. While there are larger trailers this is a comfortable size to hand-load compost into and it small enough to store in the garage. In addition, it does not need any brakes which reduces the maintenance and potential frustration. Over the span of 13 years all this trailer has required is some tires, a battery for the hydraulic system (which is the battery used for a generator), and some hydraulic fluid, this has been it and these items are to be expected. The registration and taxes are also minimal meaning the cost of ownership is very favorable. If someone was considering only one trailer this (or a model in this class) would be “the” trailer to purchase since it can do everything a pumpkin grower needs. Since this is the smallest size trailer that is made by this manufacture others tend to go up a size or two, but the key is the basic category which once experienced it is hard to go back to a pick-up truck bed.
 
Sunday, September 13 View Page
H&H Aluminum Solid Side Utility Trailer = Overview and Specifications This trailer was purchased when there was a pumpkin in the patch that was greater than 5ft wide so it would not fit in the other (green/work) trailer. This is the widest trailer that still has the bed between the wheel wells to keep it as low as possible for easy loading and viewing. It is considered to be the “show” trailer as the all-aluminum design (with some special options) makes it look professional. The trailer does not weigh very much and with a single hay bale in the back it is perfectly balanced to make manually moving it around the driveway very easy. (Note: This is in part due to the optional aluminum deck.) Trailer Specifics: Inside Bed With = 82” Inside Bed Length = 121” Total Trailer Width (tire sidewall to tire sidewall) = 102” Total Trailer Length (tongue to tailgate) = 182” Height of side walls = 13.5” *Looks like it did not full post all of the specifics the first time so here is a post that includes all of the numbers...
 

 

Top of Page

Questions or comments? Send mail to Ken AT bigpumpkins.com.
Copyright © 1999-2020 BigPumpkins.com. All rights reserved.