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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 54 Entries.
Saturday, March 7 View Page
I tried an experiment last fall. I set up hoops for a larger than normal hoop house; 7'x8' instead of 6'x6'. I tilled up the area inside, added compost, potting soil and a little sand. I then covered most of it with a thick layer of grass clippings and leaves, then topped it off with bags of wood mulch and potting soil. About 5 days ago I removed the bags of mulch and potting soil, but the grass was frozen. Today, I pulled off the grass, and the soil under it was thawed. The rest of the garden just has 2 to 4 inches of mud over frost. So This should get our early state fair plant off to a quicker start. As soon as I can get stakes in the ground for guy lines on the ends, I will put the plastic on and really get the soil warmed up.
Saturday, March 7 View Page
I won't be driving the truck down to the garden for a while. In the shady spots we still have snow. This year, instead of Jacob nd I having our own plants, we will be growing as a team. Maybe we can make one or two more competitions this year. And my daughter Jessica will be helping as she can with the state fair plant.
Saturday, March 7 View Page
Well worn deer trail running from the neighbor's pine trees and down to our garden. This is why we need electric fences.
Saturday, March 7 View Page
When I came up from the garden, I looked down the road and one of the der was just standing there watching me. There was another one in the bushes behind it.
Saturday, March 7 View Page
This is Daisy, Jessica's year and a half old Border Collie. She keeps an eye out for critters and lets us know if anything is around. She will get to spend time down by the garden this summer.We just need to teach her not to go running off on her own: this is the busiest gravel road in the county, more traffic than some paved roads. And she needs to learn that she is not a gopher and digging up my lawn is not acceptable.
Tuesday, March 10 View Page
State fair hoop house got plastic this afternoon. I like the 7' X 8' layout. Will warm up more soil and it is a lower profile so it catches less wind. We may have to do this with the rest of the hoop houses.
Wednesday, March 18 View Page
Started 6 watermelon seeds yesterday. 2 of the 300.5 Young, 2 of the 147.5 Young that grew the 300.5 and 2 of the 74.5 McWilliams. There are tomato and pepper seeds in the smaller flat: Big Zac, Supersteak and California Wonder. I got a soil sample sent out to Western Laboratories too.
Wednesday, March 18 View Page
Pepper and tomato seedlings in the grow light box. The peppers did OK on the light in the germination box, but the tomatoes got leggy right away. Funny how Pumpkins and long gourds do well in the germination box, but watermelons get leggy like the tomatoes did.
Wednesday, March 18 View Page
4 red-blue LED lights on the lid of a large storage box. They put out a lot less heat than the fluorescent lights. This box is 20 degrees cooler than the germination box. As the watermelons sprout, the peppers will get kicked out. I will have a small hoop house by the house so plants can get real sunlight.
Wednesday, March 18 View Page
I have to make a correction on the watermelon seeds. It is 174.5 McWilliams, not 74.5. We are planning to grow more veggies for eating and less brassica cover crop. If we have extra produce, we have plenty of places to give it away. We can also plant the cover crop after the sweetcorn is done and onions, radishes and other stuff is harvested.
Monday, April 13 View Page
Sign of spring, forsythia bush blooming. This one had gotten huge and the last 3 or 4 years and only a couple dozen flowers in the spring. My wife and I decided to take it out and I bought a new Stihl chainsaw. Jacob and I used the saw to take our a tree near the garden. The forsythia must have heard what we were planning, and was totally covered with flowers. It will get spared the chainsaw.
Monday, April 13 View Page
Another sign of spring, my wife's daffodil bed is starting to bloom. She has several varieties that bloom at different times, so we get close to a month of color here,
Monday, April 13 View Page
We have the framework for our 14' x 24' watermelon house. The whole area was covered with lots of compost last fall, and the center half got some potting soil and sand and was tilled. My daughter gave me a gift card to Earl May garden center, and I used it to get a big bag of perlite. I spread some of that down the center and tilled everything. It will get one more tillage after we spread the rest of the fertilizer and then the cover goes on. Chicken wire is going around the whole garden this year.
Friday, April 17 View Page
5:20 AM this morning, getting ready to take my wife to work.
Friday, April 17 View Page
6:30 AM this morning. The weatherman said the snow would stay south of I-80. We are 30+ miles north of I-80. My wife's daffodils are not impresses.
Friday, April 17 View Page
Thus would be normal for November through March here in Eastern Iowa. But April 17? I guess I just have to consider it free white nitrogen for the garden.
Sunday, April 19 View Page
4 pumpkin hoops and a 6' x 20' hoop for watermelons.
Sunday, April 19 View Page
Spot for a green squash. Rye cover will have to be sprayed. No hoop yet, but I can put a small one up once the weather warms enough that I don't need the one I am using for seedlings.
Sunday, April 19 View Page
Next to the squash will go some of Dave Davis' state record cantaloupes. That spot grew great tomatoes, plenty for us and a groundhog. Jacob is going to cut some of the sumacs back away from the plot. But it gets first sun in the morning until mid afternoon.
Sunday, April 19 View Page
Another job for Jacob. Spraying the garlic mustard. Seems like the animals spread the seeds. It keeps getting worse every year. It can be real hard on trees and morel mushrooms.
Sunday, April 19 View Page
My great experiment. 1' wide, 24' long, 5.5' high. Space for 2 watermelons. We are trying to beat the state record, fell 35# short last year. I added some peat moss and tilled it up again with the pitch fork. The soil was working up great and is full of worms. Much better soil structure and worms since we stopped beating the soil to death with the tiller,
Sunday, April 19 View Page
missed a key with my fat fingers. The hoop is 14' wide.
Tuesday, April 21 View Page
2 days of high winds showed me the weak points in the big hoop house. No serious damage, but I made temporary repairs and Jacob and I need to make a few more permanent fixes. But it is warming up inside. Both state fair plants have germinated but are looking just a little rough. I started 5 seeds to fill 4 spots in the patch. 1587 Caspers (2145.5 McMullen X 2624.6 Willimjns) 1800.5 Carlson-Petersen (2145.5 McMullen X 1742 Wolf), 981.5 Davis (742 Wolf X self) 1293.5 Benson 2145 (McMullen x self) and 1070.5 Yohe* squash (2118 Jutras x sib.)
Thursday, April 23 View Page
The big hoop house is now holding up to wind, but the heavy rain last night caused some problems. I realize I need a better roof brace down the center. Should not be too much of a problem with Jacob's help.
Monday, April 27 View Page
I spent Thursday and Friday nights in the hospital, ulcers and hopefully nothing else shows up on labs. Thursday night we got heavy rain which brought down parts of the watermelon hoop house. I didn't have time to finish my new ridge pole reinforcement before I got too sick. I wasn't up to dumping the water until Saturday evening. I got started on the repairs this morning. Not as bad as I feared, but a few of the hoops need to be replaced. Weather is breezy and starting to get some showers. When weather allows, Jacob will help me with the rest, and hopefully last of the repairs. I guess I am learning what Pete Caspers has been dealing with the past couple years, just on a much smaller scale.
Tuesday, April 28 View Page
Our main lineup. The largest plant is the 1200 Engel, headed to the outside hoop to harden off. This is our state fair plant. We are growing a 1070.5 Yohe squash, 2118 Jutras x sib. Our first greenie attempt. The pumpkins are a totally Iowa lineup. 1800.5 Carlson-Petersen state record. 1587 Caspers, Pete's best from tornado alley. 981.5 Davis, the Sheriff's 25% heavy rock. The last 4 will get another day or two under the grow lights before going out to harden off.
Tuesday, April 28 View Page
A pair of 146.5 Young and a 300.5 Young watermelons. They are now in the outside hoop. One of the 16.5's decided to lean over after removal from the grow box. It will just have to get planted a little deeper.
Tuesday, April 28 View Page
The watermelon hoop with a good ridge pole this time. Jacob helped me get the plastic back on. I added 2 more baler twine lines over the top, and it withstood a heavy downpour with no trouble. Jacob will re-bury the edges, and then we can re-till inside, put down weed fabric and plant. I got a little bad news while doing the repairs. The doctor who did my GI scope let me know that they found some cancer at the bottom of my esophagus. Caused by years of acid reflux due to a hiatal hernia. So I will be going to the University of Iowa for treatment sometime soon. Just a bump in the road. I may be out of action for a while, but Jacob is a competent grower and will be able to manage the patch until I am ready to go again. Until the treatment starts, I will at least do what I can to get the garden in shape.
Friday, May 1 View Page
Started 5 long gourd seeds, hoping that at least 4 germinate. I found out that when I move pumpkin seedlings from the 5" peat pit to 1 gallon pots and put them back in the germination box because the other light box is full, they get too close to the CFL lights. They hang down lower and get hotter than the LED's in the other box, But when I move them to the LD box or to the outside hoop, they recover quickly. I guess I had a little too much on my mind. Jacob and I have been getting things ready to plant corn beans radishes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes and cabbage. I sprayed out some weeds and some of the rye cover crop. Where we had mustard and rape/radish cover, there were far fewer weeds. Trying to get things ready for Jacob to take over for a while when I start treatment. At least I put the majority of the wok into the patch early so our efforts hopefully will balance out.
Sunday, May 10 View Page
Looks like Wednesday will be planting day. Too much chance of frost until them/ Jacob will be doing most of that chore. Beside my other problems, I strained my back and an abdominal muscle.
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
Jacob and I got our sweet corn notill planted today. Earlier I scratched the rows in with the pointed hoe, broadcast sulfur, borax, Epsom salt, copper sulfate manganese sulfate and both Walmart and Jobes organic fertilizers. Then I hit it with glyphosate. Today I banded some granular fertilizer, Jacob incorporated it with the hoe, I pushed the planter over it and Jacob covered it. Later we will hit it with more glyphosate before the corn sprouts, and when it is about a foot tall, side dress some more fertilizer. We have done this for years and it works great in our silt soil that is full of worms.
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
Jacob finishing up our 2nd corn patch. We also got peas, wax beans and purple pod beans planted before it rained. We already have potatoes and onions planted.
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
Plot where my daughter Jessica and I are going to plant a bunch of flowers. We will have Jacob mow it and spray it again, then we will plant.
Wednesday, May 13 View Page
This will be field pumpkins for decorations. Around Early to mid June, we will cover the plants, spread out the pile of corn stalks and let the pumpkins grow on that.
Thursday, May 14 View Page
Throwback Thursday, October 2009. I took my tripod out to the farm of my boss, Joe Wagner, to load his son's first giant pumpkin. This is the grower, Obie Wagner in the back of the truck, his friend facing away, then left to right me, state forester Steve Swinconos and my co-worker Darcy Keil. Obie's pumpkin weighed 700.5#, and won him a plaque and a cash prize for the second biggest pumpkin grown in Jones County. I was shut out by a flood that year, while my son Jacob managed a 568.5#. Darcy is a real inspiration to me. He survived a blocked carotid artery, kidney cancer, and a massive heart attack in the recovery room after his cancer surgery. It took ALS to finally stop him. I figure that if he could fight off all of that, my little problem won't stop me.
Sunday, May 17 View Page
My wife Lu Ann and I took Saturday to go trout fishing in Northeast Iowa, just a mile south of the Minnesota border. On our first stop we got 6 rainbows and 2 browns. Later we got 2 more rainbows to fill our 5 per person limit. This week Jacob and I have lots of patch chores, and I start my radiation treatments on Thursday,
Tuesday, May 19 View Page
Circumstances prevented Jacob from getting the pumpkins and watermelons planted on Saturday, then we had 2 days of rain. But we got them in the ground today. Late start, but they are in bigger pots with great root systems. Leaves are lighter color due to cold temps and lack of sun. We need to get more soil tilled in the big watermelon house and spread more weed fabric. Then Jacob will hit the weeds outside the hoops with glyphosate. Corn hasn't sprouted yet, so we can get a good knockdown on the early weeds. We have 2 watermelons and one pumpkin is reserve for potential problems. 2 long gourds and 4 field pumpkins are ready to go to bigger pots. Giant cantaloupe seeds get started tomorrow. We have the best looking tomato and pepper seedlings ever. Might have a couple big Zacs to try for competition size.
Wednesday, May 20 View Page
133 Eaton long gourd is up, transferred that, my 129 long gourd and some field pumpkins to bigger pots in the LED light box. Started 2 of the Iowa record 61.85 Davis cantaloupe seeds and 2 of the 52 Bennett seeds that grew the 61.85. I also started another field pumpkin, one of my personal best 97#. Weather is still cool and cloudy, looking for a high around 61. We need some sunshine.
Friday, May 22 View Page
Yesterday we planted 21 tomato plants and 6 medium hot pepper plants. We have around 20 more pepper plants and 3 Big Zac tomatoes to plant. Jacob will get the patch chores for a few days. I have a preliminary surgery tomorrow before the cancer treatment starts. Hopefully I will be able to help with light chores in a week to 10 days or so. Nice to have an experienced growing partner who can take over.
Wednesday, June 3 View Page
After spending 11 of the past 12 nights in the hospital, I had Lu Ann drive me down to the garden to check on the progress. Plants are looking good but weeds are going wild. It has been either too windy or rainy for Jacob to do any spraying but he should be able to do it tomorrow. I did see a baby groundhog in the patch, too stupid to run away. Jacob didn't find any damage, but he will be taking his .22 revolver to the garden from now on. I will have to rely on Jacob for garden chores, as I won't be able to do much but give advice. Jacob has been seeing a little friend lying against the chicken wire a few times. but he will get a surprise when the electric wires get turned on.
Monday, June 8 View Page
I had my first radiation and chemo treatments today, and they went well. Sunny, hot but moderate humidity/ Jacob weeded small plants last evening, now he is using our new backpack sprayer to wipe out a bunch of weeds. Later this evening he will apply the Merit. Timing should be good as the rain from the tropical storm is due tomorrow and will get the merit into the soil. He saw the first cucumber beetle yesterday. He finished re-tilling and laying weed fabric in the big watermelon hoop.
Wednesday, June 10 View Page
2nd day of heavy rain. The Iowa State fair is cancelled, but I doubt if we would have had a good pumpkin by then. Weather has been too cool, corn in the farmer's fields is behind normal. Plus there is no way I would be able to attend anyway, health wise. We still have hopes for fall contests
Tuesday, June 30 View Page
I have been home from hospital about 30 hours after more than a week with covid. Delirious most of the time. But Jacob, Jessica and Lu Ann joined in too. Just not bad enough for the hospital. Guess it was radiation and chemo that hit me hard. I told Jacob to take it easy in garden, not worth wrecking his health. But he doesn't want to let me down. Jessica having some success with container gardening. Then to top it off, the tranny is going out on the truck. Maybe next year.
Friday, July 17 View Page
No photo to post, haven't been to the garden in weeks. Jacob can't keep up as we had too much started when my cancer hit for just one person. But he says he is ready to harvest some bell peppers and eggplant. And watermelons are doing great. Might be all we have to show if we have Pumpkinfest. I am wrapping up the treatment. One more radiation today, 5 next week and 3 the following. The chemo I had last week knocked me for a loop. I am better today, but the chemo I got yesterday is due to hit me tomorrow. Just one more chemo next week and it is done. Then it will be a couple weeks of resting up, more tests to see just how much the radiation and chemo knocked back the cancer. Then I go with my test result to Mayo clinic to see how the surgeons want to proceed in removing the rest of the cancer. I still have 2 or 3 rough months ahead of me, but I am determined to beat this and be back with some serious growing next year. I will just be cutting some and concentrating on a smaller garden.
Sunday, July 19 View Page
Jacob got me a picture from the garden. Our best watermelon with an eggplant he grew for size comparison.
Friday, July 24 View Page
2 days ago Jacob brought a half bucket of tomatoes from the garden. He is letting the pumpkins open pollinate, has some tat are ready for sand and a sheet for shade. Getting more watermelons to set. He said he has some photos on his phone to send me. I finished chemo yesterday, but the side effects are really knocking me for a loop.
Tuesday, August 18 View Page
Jacob's last hope for a pumpkin, maybe around 400# now. He is going to have to terminate the main after the fruit, as it grew over it and might tear off the vine. Weeds really got away from him when he was sick with covid.
Tuesday, August 18 View Page
What the derecho did to my big watermelon hoop. Design is sound for anything less than hurricane force wind. Jessica was able to salvage a half gallon of pole beans 2 tomatoes and a small bucket of peppers.
Tuesday, August 18 View Page
Stealth patch spies. They floated over Rusty Caspers' patch and then ours. Rusty should have some decent plants, we have great weeds to see from the air
Wednesday, September 2 View Page
Disappointment for Jacob. The rabbits got to his last remaining and biggest watermelon. We didn't tape it, but we guessed it at around 120#. Not a record breaker but with a month to grow, It would have rivaled his personal best of 174.5# last year. Next year will be better, and he still has long gourd, field pumpkin and giant pumpkin growing.
Saturday, September 26 View Page
Jacob with his 75# field pumpkin entry at Bloomfield. We thought he had a chance to finish in the money, but was beaten by just 2#. But with everything that happened, he was lucky to even have this much
Saturday, September 26 View Page
Our next door neighbor Rusty Caspers brought 2 entries field pumpkin and bushel gourd and won with each one. And the bushel gourd is the new state record. I guess you could start calling our road gourd road, as Rusty has the bushel gourd state record and I still have the long gourd state record.
Saturday, September 26 View Page
That is the over-all winner and new Knasas state record. The historic ornate court house on the town square provided a great backdrop for the Pumpkin Bash
Monday, November 16 View Page
Rusty Caspers and I grow our pumpkins on adjoining acreages, our sons also grow pumpkins and hunt deer. Rusty grew the state record bushel gourd this year and I grew the state record long gourd 6 years ago. Rusty's son Pete shot a beautiful 10 point buck a few days ago and my son Jacob shot a nice 8 point buck a few days later. The bucks had racks with nearly the same shape. This was supposed to be my 50th consecutive year deer hunting, gun or bow. But weather and cancer screwed that up. Jacob was really wanting to hunt with me this year, but is hasn't been possible. But Jacob helped me plant hundreds of trees, food plots and and set up tree stands and ground blinds, so we in fact did hunt together. It is great to have a big strong son to help you out.


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