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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 9 Entries.
Tuesday, April 7 View Page
150sq.ft Contest This is Me. Let's do this. First off I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Wes Stephenson. I am a husband to my beautiful wife Holly and father to my three amazing kids. I teach Middle School English Language Arts and head up the Garden and Giant Pumpkin Club at the school where I teach. I founded the club to try and get teens out of their phones and back outside in the dirt. the club has slowly grown but the pandemic this year threw a major wrench into any plans to grow a school giant this season. I will be focussing most of my diary entries on my own attempts at growing a true giant pumpkin and breaking my state's (Nevada) record. I am also attempting long gourds, giant watermelon, and bushel gourd this year too. I live in a suburb of reno which severely limits my growing space for my attempts. this is why I have chosen to enter the 150sq. ft. competition this year. my "big patch" only measures 180 sq ft total so why not use what I can to try. This is my third season attempting to grow giant pumpkins and I love this hobby. In my first year, 2018, I grew a beautiful orange pumpkin from a seed I got from a display pumpkin at a pumpkin farm. the grower said it had Gantner genetics but I didn't write anything down. Hey, I was a NOOB. Sorry! Madam Vastra (Madam V), named after a character from my favorite TV show, Doctor Who, ended up weighing 467 according to OTT measurements. I was never able to get her officially weighed. My second season, 2019, seemed to be a tough season for lots of growers around the US. My plant struggled to get a good start and ended up producing a nice white pumpkin, Penelope, weighing at the Elk Grove, California GPC weigh-off at 347 pounds. I was disappointed because that ended up being 50 pounds under her tape weight. but with that success, I was able to inspire my middle schoolers to get out and fundraise almost a thousand dollars for the 2020 club growing season. I attended the GPC convention in Las Vegas this year for the first time. it was an amazing experience. I met world record holders, new growers, and experts from around the world. I received donations from superstars like Leonardo Urena, Joe Jutras, and John Harnica. Every one of them was so eager to help. I am hoping this season will yield another personal best and potentially a state record of some kind.
 
Wednesday, April 8 View Page
150sq.ft. Competition Patch Prep Every year I add a few yards of composted/aged horse manure to my pumpkin bed for organic matter. This year I thought I should really turn my soil since it had been top layered for the past four with some shallow tilling. I filled the bed, dug out a trench to stand in, and then mounded up one half of my bed soil.
 
Thursday, April 9 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep After mounding my soil I could really see the severe layers of my soil and decided I needed to do a full soil turn.
 
Friday, April 10 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep I mounded all the soil onto half of the bed then shoveled all the soil by hand to the other half into another mound. this allowed me to mix all the different layers of materials together two times. Notice how much darker the soil is after the second mounding.
 
Saturday, April 11 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep I was then able to backfill and level out the now mixed soil into the patch. Phew, that was a ton of back-breaking shoveling. But I think it will be worth it.
 
Monday, April 13 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep With all the soil turned, tilled, and leveled out, I was able to put up the interchangeable hoop house today and mark out my 150sq.ft. competition area. my patch is actually a total of 180 sq.ft. so I did the math and marked off the from and back corners to make it a true 150sq.ft. I will be planting corn in those areas as an easily visible barrier. i am hoping that those roots don't interfere too much with the pumpkin.
 
Monday, April 13 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep This is a shot from the front. my 150sf is marked with the bright pink paracord.
 
Monday, April 13 View Page
150sq.ft Competition Patch Prep Also, in this picture, you can see that I used soil heating cables for the first time. the cord and red markers can be seen in the bottom left corner of the photo. I also tried something this year. to prevent me from having to dig out a big hole for planting and disrupting the soil, I put a large planting pot in the spot where I plan to put my plants. that way the soil is all being heated and then will not be totally disturbed when I plant the little plants out in the patch.
 
Monday, April 13 View Page
I have a mini hoop house that I like to use because it is easy to move and heat. I got that all put together today so it could assist in heating the area where I intend to plant since the high temps here are still in the 50s...grrrrr.
 

 

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