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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 86 Entries.
Monday, May 31 View Page
Some of us growers from North Carolina are teaching classes this year to 4-H students about growing giant pumpkins. I had a good group here in Davidson County.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
I wanted to thank our Agricultural Extension Agent, Matt Barber for putting my pumpkin pictures in a PowerPoint program. My diary will have a lot of basic information this year to give the 4-H students a blueprint for growing.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
So, excited to grow a 2118 Barron this year. Plan to use it as my main pollinator. The plant looked identical to this picture one day. The next day it looked like the next picture.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
Plant totally collapsed by the next day. Any theories? Disease was a possible cause, but I suspected something else.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
Had nothing to lose, so I went digging and confirmed my suspicions. A vole had girdled the roots. One 2118 Barron down. I share this because people can learn more sometimes from my failures than successes.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
Its smart to hedge your bets when growing giant pumpkins. Still have one 2118 Barron going.
 
Monday, May 31 View Page
You meet some really good people in the giant growing community. I burnt my 1514 Burchette plants badly trying to stimulate growth in this crazy cold spring. Andrew Vial came to the rescue with this 1342 Burchette plant. I've never transplanted a plant this big before.
 
Tuesday, June 1 View Page
So in the interest of my diary being educational this year, here is one more mistake that a grower of only 34 years just made. 1756 H/J, great genetic potential, one half of the magic 2145 McMullen, but an old seed, had trouble terminating. In an effort to help it break through the potting soil, I split the cots.
 
Tuesday, June 1 View Page
Most seeds and I would have trashed it, but kept the 1756 just to see what it would do. Eventually it started developing a growing tip. We will see what happens.
 
Wednesday, June 9 View Page
The plant that Andrew Vial gave me looks like it wants to ribbon vine. It is putting out 2 leaves at each node, but no side vines.
 
Wednesday, June 9 View Page
These are my late plants. 1803 Hoomis on the left and the 1756 H/J on the right that I had such trouble getting to germinate. Got to grow the 1756 if it straightens out and develops a vine; growing like a bush right now.
 
Wednesday, June 9 View Page
All 3 of these vines are in the same patch spot. Only one will be selected. Growing 2 at right angles is more work, but gets me past the critical laying down stage and getting side vines anchored before I have to make a call.
 
Wednesday, June 9 View Page
My 2118 Barron is starting to take off. Classic Christmas tree, but will morph into more of a lobster as I bend side vines around the pumpkin.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
The two 1342 plants. This picture shows what size you can get the plants to before making the decision on which to select.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
Tough to make the call, but decision made. Notice the pulled up plant is still in the patch. I let it wither and dry up before taking it outside the walls. If a groundhog,squirrel or rat gets a taste of a blossom or baby pumpkin they like, there would be no keeping them out of the patch.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
This shows the tips of the vines trained and the vine burying mix applied.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
A shot taken just after the last photo, but with the vines covered and the mix hoed in to the ground.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
The 2118 Barron. Really need to get a pumpkin set to start pulling energy before this plant spirals out of control.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
The vine around the small pumpkins looks like a hot mess, but it has been snaked around to give the pumpkin room to expand and not cause stem stress when the pumpkin gets big. It is important to manipulate the vine at this early stage because it's difficult and risky to move the pumpkin when it's 400 pounds or above.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
Notice the rocks in the chair. I've had a cat jump up in the chair before and turn it over thus breaking the pumpkin off. Wind will also flip a light plastic chair. Weight it down.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
Pollination day. I tie up the female flower the night before so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the bees.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
For a good controlled pollination you must isolate the male flowers as well. I bring in three or more the night before and put them in a cup of water.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
They will open the next morning, and tell you when it's time to pollinate.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
I cut the petals off with a small pair of scissors so I can easily get the stamens which contain the pollen in around the stigma of the female flower.
 
Monday, June 21 View Page
Overview of the 2118 Barron from the side. This plant has some yellowing issues that are concerning me.
 
Thursday, June 24 View Page
These are 2 leaves that were broke down by a storm; they have recovered somewhat, but I show them to talk about my philosophy on leaves that get broken and are lying on the ground. Again, my diary this year is aimed at the new growers in the 4-H program. I will leave those leaves for about 7 to 10 days because they still assist the plant with photosynthesis, but then I cut them. If those leaves are left on the ground with no air circulation, that will be the start of your powdery mildew season.
 
Thursday, June 24 View Page
This photo shows a young pumpkin with the vine trained to allow room for the pumpkin to grow. Pulp mill fabric placed under the pumpkin while the fruit is still small and easy to manipulate. I grow in very rocky soil so I carefully smooth out the area before the pulp mill fabric is put down. One rock causing a pressure point with 1500 pounds pressing against it, could be cause a soft/rotten spot when you go to lift it. Sand is placed between the pumpkin and fabric. The chair will be moved back in place to provide shade and a 2 layer light breathable fabric placed on the fruit for added shade.
 
Friday, June 25 View Page
Had the pleasure of visiting Andrew Vial's patch today. This is his 2095 Brandt. His plants look so much greener with thicker vines than mine.
 
Friday, June 25 View Page
Andrew's 1911 Urena plant looks great. In recent years I've started amending and preparing my soil 2 years in advance. Thought I had it figured out, but Andrew added his amendments at the last minute and his plants truthfully look much healthier than mine.
 
Friday, June 25 View Page
Andrew's 1911 Urena prospective pumpkin.
 
Friday, June 25 View Page
This is Andrew's 1342 Burchette plant. This is what happens when a hungry groundhog gets a hold of your plant. Andrew now has an electric fence surrounding the patch.
 
Monday, June 28 View Page
Small culled pumpkins get chewed up and buried inside the fenced in walls of the patch. If thrown outside any number of critters may decide they like the taste, then good luck keeping them out of the patch.
 
Monday, June 28 View Page
The bone pile. Every patch will have one. The prevailing winds blow from the west at my patch, so the pile is situated to the east. This is because I may be discarding diseased material with diseases such as powdery mildew that can be carried by the wind. I also spray my bone pile every time I spray the plants. Bugs can thrive on the discarded material if left unattended. Pay attention to the little details and the big pumpkins will follow.
 
Monday, June 28 View Page
Last picture of the 2118 in its present form. I felt this plant was in jeopardy because it was getting too big and I was dead ending side vines before I could get a pumpkin set to draw the energy. The energy of these vines increases exponentially as all those auxiliary roots kick in and you need somewhere for all that energy to go. The main started foaming at the junction of the main and first side vine, so the stump and first side vines were cut loose.
 
Wednesday, July 7 View Page
Pruning shears are an essential tool for growing giant pumpkins. I like to clean mine in between plants, so as not to spread disease. It's also a good idea to work with your healthiest plants first and end with any that may be having disease issues.
 
Wednesday, July 7 View Page
Had to cut the stump and 4 side vines in an effort to save the 2118. Just as the pumpkin was starting to take off too.
 
Wednesday, July 7 View Page
Trying to make rodent repellent with a bar of minty soap and a cheese grater. Think I heard about this trick from one of the panelists at the GPC spring seminar. Rodents have already developed a taste for my young pumpkins. The lengths we will go to to try to salvage a season.
 
Wednesday, July 7 View Page
Also trying to deter the rodents by soaking the cloths that I cover the pumpkins with in a mixture of peppermint essential oil and water.
 
Thursday, July 15 View Page
The 2118 has filled in its space. Day 30 it is at 480 pounds. That's a decent number, but and it's a big but, or should I say NO BUTT!...
 
Thursday, July 15 View Page
At about 300 pounds, the blossom end just stopped growing.
 
Thursday, July 15 View Page
Dead man walking. She'll almost certainly never see a scale, but I will grow her until she falls apart. One thing I've learned through the years is to be all in until it's time to be all out. To many times I've seen the most unlikely prospect become the one that salvaged the season.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
So, what's your vine pruning strategy? Stump just started foaming 3 days ago. Came back to the patch today and leaves were collapsing working out from the stump. Made the tough call to remove 6 side vines in an effort to save the plant.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
Not much plant left on the 1342. Diminished expectations.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
My 1342 this year looks like a twin to Chris Rodebaugh's. She is short, wide and fairly tall and wanting to grow over the blossom end. Day 34 she is at 586 lbs., which is just behind his.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
She also has a short stem just like the 1342 Chris is growing. Makes for early stem stress issues.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
The 2118 plant looks pretty good, if you don't look too close...
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
A view from the base shows how leaves are yellowing and collapsing moving out.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
The stem is imploding on me.
 
Monday, July 26 View Page
The crazy blossom end has held together this far. She is at 804 pounds on day 40. Not the best numbers, but I will be surprised if she ever sees a scale.
 
Monday, August 2 View Page
The 1342 is moving slowly. Estimating at 755.
 
Monday, August 2 View Page
Trying to doctor on the stem of the 2118. Thats hydrogen peroxide foaming.
 
Monday, August 2 View Page
The 2118 is estimating over 1000. Didn't think she would hold together this long with the crazy blossom end.
 
Monday, August 2 View Page
Since she is estimating over 1000 I guess I better name her or him. With the imploding stem and the hot mess of a blossom end, I'm going with "Dead Man Walking".
 
Saturday, August 7 View Page
At the beginning of the season I certainly didn't have any aspirations of growing a world record, but.....
 
Saturday, August 7 View Page
....Still have to hear back from Guiness, but I am in the running for the most messed up stem EVER! All I can figure is that somehow my pumpkin accidentally wandered onto a nuclear test site.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
So, went to the beach for a week and came home to some bad news. See how all the volunteer tertiaries have exploded. That plant was clean just a week ago. Next slide will show why.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
The stem had split into the pumpkin, so the vine had nowhere to send all that energy.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
In a few short minutes, a plant that took a summer of nurturing to grow is gone.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
Lost this one also at 931 pounds. Nice orange color off my 1245 from last year. Her potential had me excited, great growth rate with a big plant to push her. Pulled the sheet off and gnats everywhere. This one felt like being punched in the gut.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
When you do this for 34 years you get where you can smell trouble before it happens. This one fooled me. Vine and pumpkin looked great when I inspected before the beach trip. In one week it all fell apart on me.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
I call my 1342 I'm growing this year, Average Joe. It's a nondescript white ball growing on a low energy plant with a slow growth rate. It's knocking on 1000's door.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
I'll see your stem issues and raise you 5.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
Dead Man Walking is hanging on by the hair of his chinny chin chin. It's gotten some decent size. Way more than I ever thought that misshapen blossom end could handle.
 
Tuesday, August 17 View Page
I'm lobbying for an award this year that's like the opposite of the Howard Dill Award. We won't say ugliest, let's call it the pumpkin "with the most character".
 
Friday, September 3 View Page
Wanted to give an update, since some people have told me they actually read my diary. Dead Man Walking has hung in there, and a scale is almost here. This time of year often becomes about troubleshooting. The vine is pretty much toast, although I don't think this picture adequately conveys that.
 
Friday, September 3 View Page
For most of the season, Average Joe didn't have much of a vine to push him. Now that we are nearing the end, the vine looks the most impressive it has all year. Very unusual for me, my vines normally are looking rough by now.
 
Wednesday, September 8 View Page
Always some tense moments when you go to lift your 1000 lb + baby, especially when you have had to choose from the slim pickings of lumber available now and you have to use green wood with dried for the poles. I've tried to focus my diary toward the new growers. When you get into growing giant pumpkins you don't get any training on loading a 1500 lb+ solid mass into your truck or trailer and securing it. There is very real danger involved when you are lifting that kind of weight and driving it at your back at 60 mph. Get with experienced growers to get crucial advice.
 
Wednesday, September 8 View Page
Dead man walking was the most troublesome pumpkin I've ever loaded. It's weird shape caused headaches with securing the rope around the bottom. It actually slipped out of the lifting harness just as I got the truck under it.
 
Wednesday, September 8 View Page
I didn't know whether to caption this one as the lengths we go to or you might be a redneck if...
 
Thursday, September 9 View Page
Dead Man Walking taped at 1210 but weighed 1526 for 26% heavy. I was blown away. My lovely wife Annette is with me. She has always been so supportive in this crazy hobby of mine.
 
Thursday, September 9 View Page
Early in the season when the 2118 Barron grew crazy with the stunted blossom end, I said be all in until it's time to be all out. You never know when the most unlikely candidate will be the one that salvaged your season. Perfect example.
 
Thursday, September 9 View Page
Got to give a shout out to my 20 year old, 254,000 mile Ford truck, which hauled the 1526 4.5 hours over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Knoxville. That old truck has hauled a lot of pumpkins to scales over the years.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Congratulations to Todd Dawson on his first place finish with his 284 lb melon.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Andrew's pumpkin placed 4th at 999 lbs. It was a personal best. He had one taping at 1275 lbs that went down on him, and let me tell you no one ever worked harder to save a pumpkin. I know Andrew wanted 1000 lbs and it was disappointing when it didn't go to chart, but I have no doubt he will get it. He networks, studies and then puts in the work.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Danny's pumpkin was truly impressive to see in person. It was huge, plus it had a great shape and color. His pumpkin went very light to chart at 1390, and I know that was disappointing for him, but this pumpkin should be celebrated. It was truly a beauty for one that big and it's the 4th largest ever grown in North Carolina. Danny, well done for growing in that oppressive heat of eastern NC.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
The North Carolina growers with Danny's beauty.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Dwight Slone brought a rock of a pumpkin, and placed second with this 1455 pounder. Dwight, congratulations on the incredible year you are having.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Our little group makes a vacation out of our trip to Knoxville. From left to right is me with Annette, Andrew and Heather Vial, and Betty and HC Williams. We are at the Hatfields and McCoys dinner theater.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
I think i found my new pumpkin hauler.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Love birds.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
Love is in the air.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
We stayed in Gatlinburg and the bears have become very acclimated to people. They come raid the trash cans. There were a dozen people within 20 feet of this bear, filming him and it didnt phase him one bit. I didnt say 20 smart people.
 
Saturday, September 11 View Page
My deepest apologies. This is the picture that was supposed to be with the caption about Andrews second place fat melon. I am such a technological idiot.
 
Tuesday, September 21 View Page
So, I went to prepare Average Joe for the trip to Elkin and found a moist spot under the blossom, which was turned up under the pumpkin.
 
Tuesday, September 21 View Page
Seemed to be a solid pumpkin. Final estimation was 1178. Checked under the hidden blossom and found a soft spot that my finger stuck through without much resistance.
 
Tuesday, September 21 View Page
When I opened her up, found out I had been cooking pumpkin soup. No seeds salvageable, and had crossed that heavy 2118 Barron into her. Oh well, that's a new personal best for me. Never lost a pumpkin that big before. This hobby is the craziest roller coaster you'll ever buy a ticket for.
 

 

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