Home What's New Message Board
Select Destination Site Search
Boston2021 - 2021 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. 68 Entries.
Sunday, May 2 View Page
Hi all, what a great network for information sharing and collaboration. First grower diary entry for me. It is my second year growing and I am lucky to have a patch this year. I live in Boston and finding an open community garden plot is very difficult. In fact, the closest plots have a waiting list approaching 200 people! After repeatedly emailing pretty much every garden organization in Boston since last December, I finally found one about three miles down the road and formally became a member on 5/2. $25 for the season paid to Boston Parks. 25ft x 12ft plot. Members are also expected to help out in common areas with weeding and other tasks as determined by the coordinator. I took a couple soil samples on 5/2 and sent to Western Labs. We also weeded on 5/2.
Saturday, May 15 View Page
The main concerns from the soil test were low nitrogen and potassium. Thank you to Ron Wallace and Steve Geddes for reviewing and providing suggestions. The plot was tilled on 5/15 and amendments were added. Looking a lot better than a couple weeks ago.
Friday, May 21 View Page
Last year my 300ish pumpkin rotted away in late August on a lawn. I harvested some seeds and planted in late April indoors and the seeds were not good. Lesson learned for the future. Thank you to Woody Lancaster for giving me two of his 2116 plants last weekend that he started around the middle of April. Unfortunately, there was some minor damage while transporting and perhaps some transplant stress too. Transplant date was Monday the 17th. I have been watering daily and spoon feeding every other day and the plant has really perked up and there is noticeable growth on the main vine. It is growing vertical for now so we will have to see how it progresses over the next few days.
Saturday, May 22 View Page
This morning in the garden before watering. New growth looks great. A couple robins joined us for a shower by the hose and found a few worms.
Wednesday, May 26 View Page
Up until early May, it looked like I would not have a garden plot so I did not go out and buy many supplies. A few days ago I found the plant blown over on its side. Some minor twisting. I removed the stem that was pushing the main vine up. Today I added four small garden stakes roughly following what I have seen in other diaries, spoon fed, and watered. The soil was way too dry this morning as I was not able to make it down yesterday. While the plot is only 3.5 miles each way, trips have to be planned around city traffic that has quickly built back up over the last month or so. I know this is not ideal, but it was this option or not growing a pumpkin this year. For me it is about learning and enjoying the process.
Wednesday, May 26 View Page
While watering this Baltimore Oriole visited the area. First one I have seen this year. For a city Boston has more wildlife than many would think.
Friday, May 28 View Page
I made it down to the plot after work this evening. Only 55 degrees in Boston. After taking this pic, I worked in three pounds of well balanced fertilizer into the soil, spoon fed, and soil drenched.
Monday, May 31 View Page
Nine for nine on sunflower germination. Jiffy seed starting mix, Espoma Blood Meal, and WOW Mycorrhizal Inoculant. These are Titan Sunflowers from Dr. Tom Heaton out in CA. Last year I grew the Sunzillas and while they got up to 12-13ft, they needed a lot of staking. Apparently the Titans will not need staking-we shall see. Most of the sunflower advice I have read says to sow directly, but with many squirrels and birds outside I wanted to start them indoors, and if Atlantic Giants can be transplanted, why not sunflowers? I had the sunflowers in earlier last year, but given the pumpkin coming together at the last minute and the cool weather from the last few days I am fine with it. The sunflowers will be grown on site here in Boston and will receive some of the same fertilizers as the pumpkin.
Friday, June 4 View Page
The plant is about 3.5ft long now and starting to pick up some speed. Without a heated hut or night time protection it just kind of sat over the cold and rainy Memorial Day Weekend. Spoon feeding continues to include WOW Seaweed, and WOW Humic and Fulvic, Neptune's Liquid Ffish, and Neptune's Liquid Crab and Lobster have been added to the mix.
Monday, June 7 View Page
The plant this morning before work. We have our first flower. I know some growers will prune them when the plant is smaller, but I am going to let mine grow until later when a pumpkin is around basketball sized and will be the one. Looks like a bit of wind damage. I checked the leaves and didn't see any bugs. Yesterday was the first day of vine burying and I am using WOW Soil and Plant Booster and Mycorrhizae Inoculant. We also spoon fed yesterday-soil and foliar drenches of two gallons total. I know late morning/early afternoon is the ideal watering time, but this isn't always possible with work and having the patch about 3.5 miles down the road. I will be removing the second plant soon. Secondaries are starting to emerge. Last year I had some secondaries cross over each other so I want to do a better job of staking and guiding them this year.
Friday, June 11 View Page
I made it down to the patch during my lunch break today. First picture this year that shows the rest of the community garden. The main vine is about six feet long now. Spoon feeding and more vine burying today.
Sunday, June 13 View Page
Happy Sunday Funday from Boston. Primed some small tertiaries today, spoon fed, and watered. Main vine is about 7ft now and looking good. This is the view from the garden of the park.
Sunday, June 20 View Page
As of today the main vine is about 10ft long. Total plant is about 11ft-12ft. First female is about 8ft out on the main and another one on the largest secondary. I am/will train two secondaries to curve behind the base of the plant as I didn't want to plant it right against untilled soil at the edge of my plot near the rose bushes. I got lucky with this plot as unlike most other plots I have easy access to it from all sides and it doesn't directly border someone else's plot which would make things more complicated. I noticed some leaf damage a few days ago and saw a cucumber beetle so I applied a light dose of pesticide. Better late than never; lesson learned to start earlier next year. No sign of cucumber beetles since. Today we spoon fed with WOW Seaweed, WOW Humic and Fulvic Acid, Neptune's Liquid Fish, and Neptune's and Liquid Crab and Lobster. I am still using a two gallon watering can from the community garden for the spoon feeding and walking out on the boards. I am ordering a basic four gallon backpack sprayer that will make things easier for the rest of the season. I thought about compost tea for this year, but the plot does not have electricity, Boston water is chlorinated, parking can be challenging, etc. Sure it could have been done, but I decided to focus my efforts on basics and go with water solubles and granular products. I measure the dry products at home and pour them into a covered cup. At the garden I then also add the Neptune liquid products. Tomorrow morning will be more vine burying and watering. I have to read up on pruning techniques . Tissue test will be soon. Hoping for another 7ft-10ft of growth on the main by the end of the month with a pollination somewhere at 16ft-20ft. We shall see.
Monday, June 28 View Page
Was at the garden Thursday night until almost dark vine burying. Spoon feeding every other day continues. Main vine is about 14.5ft with a female around 14ft. Pollination should be in a day or two. Had to do some quick weeding tonight as the city is inspecting the garden tomorrow.
Thursday, July 1 View Page
Self pollinated this morning. Main vine around 18ft and pollinated on the main around 15ft. Ahead of last yearís 7/13 pollination date.
Monday, July 5 View Page
Happy 4th of July Weekend all. I went down to the plot this morning and put about four hours in, my longest day there thus far. Fully weeded the entire plot, pruned tertiaries, terminated secondaries, started to curve the main, added three pounds of granular, buried vines, spoon fed, and a bit of water. Some lime green after the last few days of no sun, cold temps, and tons of rain. Apparently the garden was created on what was a neglected part of the park years ago. There is still some broken glass that I encounter while vine burying. Hopefully we can get some sustained sunny weather that is not either 100 or 56 degrees and rain like the last week was.
Friday, July 9 View Page
The middle of park turned into a small pond this afternoon.
Friday, July 9 View Page
The first pollinated pumpkin has landed. Made it down after work tonight. There are a few bent stems on the main and a couple secondaries got thrown on their sides-not as bad as I thought and not as bad as a storm last August. Tonight I used the one gallon sprayer with higher doses of fertilizer and other products to hopefully prevent disease. Out of town tomorrow but will be back Sunday to position the pumpkin and other important work. Hopefully it will not be lost or blow up in the next few days. If so I have another flower on the main that should be ready in a few days.
Wednesday, July 14 View Page
The sun came out!
Thursday, July 15 View Page
It kind of feels like halfway through a marathon at this point or half time. On Wednesday evening after I gently moved the pumpkin a small bit, I heard the dreaded cracking sound. Small stem crack maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the way but it went right back together and is hardly noticeable. I put garden tape around it the next morning. Thank you to Ron Wallace for his quick response saying you want to air it out and keep it dry to prevent disease so I removed the tape. I have learned while the plants are a ton of work, you canít just rush and try to get too much done in one day, especially if the weather is not right. Never should have tried to move that pumpkin at all with a temp of only 65. Having the pumpkin 3.5 miles down the road can be a challenge as I canít complete small tasks throughout the day, but I am very lucky to even have a plot in Boston and this one is about as good as one can get for a giant pumpkin. We are also lucky to have a garden coordinator who runs a tight ship and requires everyone to take care of their plots and that includes frequent weeding. Noticeable uniform growth on the pumpkin since last evening. Todayís heat and sun dried things out a lot. Spoon fed tonight. No cucumber beetles or powdery mildew. Kind of surprised the plant looks this good after all the rain. Roots and worms are everywhere. The plant has pretty much filled up the plot and I terminated and buried the main a couple days ago. Most secondaries have been terminated as well. There is a four by twelve ft walkway tarp abutting the concrete wall on one side of the plot. I was hoping to have taken it up and put it back at the end of the season, but all growers must leave it it. That puts the sq ft around 252.
Thursday, July 22 View Page
Let's start with the bad news. While the stem crack from last Wednesday night was hardly noticeable at first, the pumpkin ramped up the last week and now it is. Fortunately it doesn't go all the way through to the bottom but it is concerning as the pumpkin grows and might very well present a disease challenge. I hope it holds!
Thursday, July 22 View Page
Onto the good news, the pumpkin is on a proper 3ft x 3ft piece of plywood with sand. It is growing quickly. The plant looks great overall. I cut three sets of tap roots and have the main vine elevated on two bricks now. Another day of spoon feeding and I actually watered today with the hose. I can't remember the last day I watered with the hose. The bees pollinated another pumpkin on a secondary so that will be my back up pumpkin.
Thursday, July 22 View Page
View of the plant.
Thursday, July 22 View Page
Back up pumpkin on a secondary.
Sunday, July 25 View Page
The park was very quiet on Sunday morning. Despite cloudy and light showers, the soil in the garden was very dry. We passed through Falmouth on Saturday and that part of the state currently has watering restrictions-certainly not like here in Boston with all the rain we have received. I terminated another secondary, vine buried, pruned flowers, and spoon fed. I actually stopped vine burying as I am running out of soil to use in the plot without disturbing roots. Going to buy a bag of topsoil to continue vine burying. The plant has really been throwing off tertiary vines as of late. I can't fit the board between some secondaries so I still have to prune some tertiary vines and flowers-I think I saw some people on here using clippers with a long handle? The stem is growing so hopefully new growth will sure up the stem split. Will continue to run the race at my pace and will not do anything drastic. Hoping for the best.
Monday, July 26 View Page
A smoky evening in Boston.
Tuesday, July 27 View Page
Brookdale Fruit Farm this morning in Hollis, NH.
Thursday, July 29 View Page
The pumpkin is really starting to take off! Today was another day of spoon feeding and I put two tablespoons of WOW Soil and Plant Booster around the base. I did not water today as heavy rain is expected tonight and the soil was pretty moist today.
Thursday, July 29 View Page
This part of Boston had a severe thunderstorm on Tuesday evening that beat up the plant a bit. Some small tree branches hit the plant. I lifted up some damaged stems yesterday and the sun seemed to help stand them back up a bit too. I leave bent stems and leaves if they still look healthy, but if any are just lying on the soil I prune those off and then cover the cut with soil. Hopefully the storms tonight are not too bad as the wind is blowing pretty good right now. More vine burying this weekend a couple secondaries are a bit twisted after the storm so I will sort them out as well. Last year I ended up walking all around the plant and I did some damage so I will try not to repeat that mistake this weekend. If some flowers and/or tertiary vines are hard to access I will probably just leave them.
Sunday, August 1 View Page
Measured today, 59 inches end to end, 56 inches side to side, 81 inches in circumference, estimated at 175lbs.
Sunday, August 1 View Page
I curved the main a bit today with two plastic stakes and raised it up by adding two more bricks. Ideally I would have moved the pumpkin a bit to make room but with the stem crack I have to be very careful so will focus on gradually moving the main.
Sunday, August 1 View Page
I picked up a couple bags of topsoil this morning and used it for vine burying since my plant has pretty much filled up the plot and I can't take soil without disturbing roots. The Scots product was moist and worked well for vine burying. I don't have much more vine burying left, but of course there is always touch up work and roots pop out too. Another day of pruning, spoon feeding, and watering. The products pictured and WOW Seaweed and Humic and Fulvic Acid make up my spoon feeding fertilizing program. I try for every other day but there are slight variations if I will be out of town. The pumpkin is really getting attention from members of the community garden and the park. I hope we can make it through the season and qualify for Topsfield.
Wednesday, August 4 View Page
No watering today. Flash Flood Watch starts this evening at 8pm. Forecast is for around 3 inches of rain overnight and tomorrow morning.
Friday, August 6 View Page
I made it down tonight after work. End to end 64 inches, side to side 63 inches, circumference 93 inches for an OTT of 218 inches and 239lbs. 13lbs a day average since Sunday. Spoon fed with eight gallons of water. I did not hose water as the plot is still very muddy from all the rain. Added some more sand. Back to it this weekend.
Wednesday, August 11 View Page
Here comes the heat.
Thursday, August 19 View Page
A soaking rain here with the remnants of Fred. So far not much wind.
Friday, August 20 View Page
My earlier measurements of the pumpkin were a bit high as I measured around the pumpkin and not straight down. Last Friday the pumpkin was estimated at 276lbs and today 277lbs. During the extreme heat last week I was watering twice a day. Unfortunately there was also grower error which resulted in some leaves getting burned.
Friday, August 20 View Page
I read these smaller plants age quickly. One of the challenges has been deciding when to remove stems and leaves to increase airflow. Thus far I have been hesitant to do that if the leaves do not look diseased. Still some very healthy and solid growth on the south side of the plant but it is aging quickly and that is concerning.
Friday, August 20 View Page
I was told the crack in the stem could present issues later on in the season and here we are. I applied sand all around and also took the white sheet off given that is Henri coming soon and will potentially drop major rain in Boston. Sulfur powder coming soon. Perhaps a small solar powered fan too. We just can't catch a break with weather this season!
Friday, August 20 View Page
I was told the crack in the stem could present issues later on in the season and here we are. I applied sand all around and also took the white sheet off given that is Henri coming soon and will potentially drop major rain in Boston. Sulfur powder coming soon. Perhaps a small solar powered fan too. We just can't catch a break with weather this season!
Friday, August 20 View Page
Here is the main before the pumpkin elevated on two bricks. One can see the rot. I don't see evidence of squash vine borers, I have been taking precautions for them, and I think it is just from the weather. I do lack the experience though to know for sure. I applied sand to hopefully dry this out for the time being.
Friday, August 20 View Page
Some good news is the base of the plant is solid and appears healthy.
Friday, August 20 View Page
A view of the plant looking West this evening. For the time being I have decided not to prune tertiary growth to allow for more leaves. I spoon fed tonight with eight gallons of water, but did not water with the hose since Henri will be here soon. Despite all my efforts some powdery mildew and cucumber beetles were on the plant tonight. A little bit of weeding tonight, but I didn't want to put in too much effort given what might happen in the next few days.
Sunday, August 22 View Page
Batten down the hatches.
Sunday, August 22 View Page
Believe it or not but the stem actually looked better this morning. I did put a lot of sand on it on Friday. No stem picture from today.
Monday, August 23 View Page
Pumpkin stem today when I arrived.
Monday, August 23 View Page
Sulfur time!
Monday, August 23 View Page
I spoon fed, cut off some dead leaves, and left the base of the leaves so insects canít just enter stems with holes. Sulfur powder on the stem and parts of the main that are showing rot. Hopefully I didnít add too much sulfur! Sprinkled some sulfur on leaves with powdery mildew. Weeding needs to be done soon too. Hopefully the third stage growth helps and the stem and pumpkin donít rot!
Monday, August 23 View Page
Third stage growth. I prune flower buds off when they are small. I made sure to hit the new growth with the eight gallons of water while spoon feeding. I did not hose water today as the plot and plant are just so wet.
Thursday, August 26 View Page
94 degrees here in Boston right now. The official temperature in Boston is taken at Logan Airport on the harbor so often in the summer much of the city is a few degrees warmer. A lot depends on the wind. The pumpkin is about three-four miles from the harbor as the crow flies. (I have seen winter days in Boston with rain on the harbor, a rain/snow mix around Fenway, and five to six inches of snow in parts of the city further west.)
Saturday, August 28 View Page
Full weeding today of the plot. With some rot on the plant I wanted to get all the weeds out for better airflow. I am heading out of town for about a week so I also added three pounds of granular fertilizer and spoon fed. Lucky to have a garden coordinator who will water the plant for the next week. I removed the sheet for the next week. Not ideal, but I thought it was better than risking stem rot when I am out of town. We have a well known Boston business who is interested in the pumpkin for a fall display. Hopefully we can make it.
Tuesday, September 7 View Page
Today felt great! Last summer after coming back from vacation my pumpkin rotted away on a lawn. Today I came back to a solid pumpkin. Growth slowed to just 4lbs a couple weeks ago with the extreme heat. It is definitely is picking up some steam now. The plant actually looks better than a few weeks ago with plenty of healthy third stage growth. I pruned off a few flowers today, spoon fed, and watered. I made sure to hit the new healthy growth.
Tuesday, September 7 View Page
Third stage growth. The plant looks better than a few weeks ago. Glad to have a half decent looking plant for September.
Wednesday, September 8 View Page
The pumpkin only grew about four pounds the last week of August. However, in the last ten days it added about 18 pounds. 68 inches end to end, 63 side to side, 104 circumference for 299lbs estimated.
Sunday, September 12 View Page
A quiet Sunday morning in the park.
Sunday, September 12 View Page
A quiet Sunday morning in the community garden.
Sunday, September 12 View Page
I pruned of a number of small flower buds. Removed a couple of the older secondaries as they were rotten. Spoon fed and then watered with the hose. The main vine at the base for about two feet is pretty soft now, but the main near the pumpkin is still solid. Measured out at 303lbs estimated.
Wednesday, September 15 View Page
Spoon fed this morning before work and some pruning.
Friday, September 17 View Page
San Diego for a long birthday weekend. I added about 2lbs of granular fertilizer and hose watered Wednesday evening.
Wednesday, September 22 View Page
First day back at the patch after the trip. I hose watered.
Sunday, September 26 View Page
The pumpkin is solid. I spoon fed today with a lower concentration. Hopefully no disasters this week and we should be good for Topsfield on Friday. Looking forward to it.
Friday, October 1 View Page
My first weigh off. Topsfield was great and we met a number of super friendly and helpful growers. Gotta start somewhere. I was actually very lucky this year getting a plot in the first place, and making it through with one pumpkin from one small plant.
Wednesday, October 13 View Page
The pumpkin is on the patio at the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain where it will stay for a good part of this month. Apparently it is drawing a lot of pictures and questions.
Sunday, October 24 View Page
Carson Beach in South Boston. We filled a lawn bag with seaweed this morning. The seaweed, compost, and other soil amendments will be tilled in on 10/30.
Sunday, October 31 View Page
Happy Halloween! I bought a wheelbarrow this morning while at Home Depot. I also picked up these bags of cow manure and humus and manure.
Sunday, October 31 View Page
The community garden closes for the season today. Based on the soil test from a few week ago, lime, potassium, and boron were added to the patch today. We also added the above pictured bags of manure and humus, the local seaweed, and one yard of horse manure/leaf compost. It was a ton of work as the garden is fenced so many wheelbarrow trips were required. An exhausting day, but it had to get done today. We finished off by seeding a generous amount of Winter Rye. In a week or so I will make a list of what went well this year, things to improve upon for 2022, and questions/topics to research this fall and winter.
Friday, December 17 View Page
The Winter Rye looks good. My first fall being able to add organic matter, soil amendments, and a cover crop.
Thursday, December 30 View Page
Winter Rye pic is from 12/17. Time to review 2021 and focus on things that I could/can control only: What went well: -Transplant date of 5/17 with no green house/hoop house. Soil temp was in the low/mid 60s -Overall effort throughout the year -Weeding -Vine burying -Spoon feeding -Watering was pretty consistent as far as days go-but I have no idea how many gallons I was putting down -Pruning of tertiary vines and removing flowers -Using products to address insects and powdery mildew -Adapting the above based on weather and a ton of rain -White sheet for sun protection -Board and sand below the pumpkin -Overall pruning to keep the plant within my plot so it wasn't prunned or stepped on by others. -Used two boards pretty well to work around the plant What did not go well/things to improve upon in 2022: -Indoor seed starting of bad seeds. Need to invest in proper seed starting equipment and focus on good seeds. -Plant blew over early in the season-need small stakes -Cucumber Beatles appeared to get the plant early on -I cracked the stem during a cool and cloudy evening-DO NOT RUSH AND TRY TO GET TOO MUCH DONE EARLY IN THE MORNING OR IN THE EVENING. This mistake created more work for me. Sometimes doing less in one day will lead to less work to fix mistakes. -Used too much product to prevent SVB and burned leaves -Plant still had powdery mildew later in the season as the journal pic show Questions to research this winter for 2022: With no electricity and 3.5 miles down the road, is a hoop house/greenhouse realistic? Best prunning techniques for 250 sq ft?


Top of Page

Questions or comments? Send mail to Ken AT bigpumpkins.com.
Copyright © 1999-2022 BigPumpkins.com. All rights reserved.