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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 88 Entries.
Friday, January 22 View Page
I can only grow one plant again so I have to give it my best shot which means proven seeds are a must - and with 6 progeny coming in at over 2000lbs you can't get much better than the 1911 Urena, arguably the best seed on planet earth.
 
Saturday, February 27 View Page
If there was a prize for green manure I might have been in with a chance! This rye and mustard mix will be chopped down and dug in later this week.
 
Tuesday, March 2 View Page
The season starts now! This lot will go in this week.
 
Friday, March 5 View Page
We gave the chickens a treat today although despite their huge appetites this was too much even for them
 
Saturday, March 6 View Page
Part of the plot strimmed, dug over and covered with Canna Terra Pro. The fumigant properties of mustard are highly volatile, so I'm doing this process in stages so everything gets covered asap. In a few weeks I'll add some extras and dig the whole lot in again.
 
Monday, March 22 View Page
A layer of organics, humic, kelp & microbiologicals
 
Monday, March 22 View Page
A layer of coarse perlite on top
 
Monday, March 22 View Page
Everything tilled in, water to follow.
 
Wednesday, March 24 View Page
Watering done, now for a layer of macrobiologicals
 
Wednesday, March 24 View Page
All covered and left to settle in.
 
Saturday, April 3 View Page
Last year there were problems with even water coverage probably/possibly because of the low pressure associated with the gravity-fed drip system. I want the irrigation system and soil to be as level a possible now to try and even things out, so I'm putting in some wooden borders a bit like a raised bed. This will help me keep things as level as possible and will also help with access around the outside of the plant, which has always been a problem indoors. It does mean the growing area will be slightly smaller so I hope the trade off works.
 
Saturday, April 10 View Page
Big day today! We have 4 seeds filed and soaking for a few hours in bacterial inoculant at 28C pH 6.2, eventually just two will be chosen from 2136 Brandt, 1949 Paton, 1911 Urena and 2416.5 Haist.
 
Saturday, April 10 View Page
Plump seeds placed between cotton pads made damp with the hydration fluid before being inserted into ziplock bags. Placed on heat mat at 28C.
 
Monday, April 12 View Page
It took 48 hours rather than the 24 hours it did last year but with 100% germination from all 4 seeds I'm not complaining. One thing to note is not to use cotton pads next time, they're great in theory, but the cotton fibres are stronger than paper tissue fibres and the radical of one of the seedlings got rather tangled up, though it should be ok now.
 
Monday, April 12 View Page
Into the propagator at room temp using airpots with Canna Seed Compost with some extra perlite & Hollands' myco. Dechlorinated water pH 6.2 with the same bacterial inoculant as before.
 
Wednesday, April 14 View Page
The bed surround pretty much finished, just a bit more levelling & tidying to do.
 
Friday, April 16 View Page
They should have been up a couple of days ago and this one is only just emerging. The other day I saw that the temp had got up to 55C(!) - faulty thermostat? So they might have been cooked somewhat. We'll see how they look in a few days, in the meantime I've started a couple of extras in case they don't pull through.
 
Sunday, April 18 View Page
Reminder why to change the water filters every year
 
Tuesday, April 20 View Page
Everything now ready for planting. I've added so much compost over the years through burying vines there's quite a high organic content, and the cover crop will have added to that. There's more to come too as vines get buried but It should all break down as time goes on and the perlite will help with drainage.
 
Tuesday, April 20 View Page
Quite happy with this, nothing is way out of balance, and better than last year I think. Maybe a bit more nitrogen early on that's about it, but I do need to keep an eye on risk of disease through high OM.
 
Wednesday, April 21 View Page
Polytunnel within a polytunnel. We can have frost as late as the end of May, and cold nights pretty much any day of the week, and I really want to keep the plant as warm as possible through the night. This structure is very lightweight, it can easily be taken off in the morning so the plant won't cook during the day, and by night it will be placed over the plant with a small propane burner inside for heat. I'll also cover it with bubblewrap for extra insulation.
 
Thursday, April 22 View Page
Still a bit slow but it at least it looks healthy, this 1911 Urena, and the others, are making progress at last.
 
Sunday, April 25 View Page
Strike that - 1911 Urena not looking happy
 
Sunday, April 25 View Page
Main backup 2416 Haist not happy either!
 
Sunday, April 25 View Page
My 3rd backup the 2136 Brandt also with problems showing just one cotyledon, but seems like it might pull through
 
Sunday, April 25 View Page
Thankfully Stu Paton shows me how it's done - he's saved the day by kindly providing me with this nice n' healthy 1542 Urena
 
Wednesday, April 28 View Page
A fisheye view inside the polytunnel, courtesy Ron and his drone
 
Wednesday, April 28 View Page
The 1542 Urena planted this morning with added Azos, Holland's Endo Plus, Canna Rhizotonic and some Giant Veg bacteria. Soil temp 15C.
 
Wednesday, April 28 View Page
It's quite a cool and overcast day today so the tunnel in a tunnel will keep things cosy. It makes a big difference. It's very light so it can easily be removed if we have warmer weather.
 
Thursday, April 29 View Page
The medium size propane heater was too hot and the CO2 reached 6000ppm in just a few minutes, so I used the smaller one instead, which is literally just a single flame. This morning I could see the CO2 maxed out at 5000ppm which is still way too high, but the temp inside the small tunnel didn't go below 16C all night, despite it getting down to 2C elsewhere. What I really want is temperature control at night that doesn't give off so much CO2, so today I will look at getting a diesel generator.
 
Friday, April 30 View Page
The plant looks happy enough, no wilting, decent colour. It'll be all happening underground at the moment. Promess drench earlier to deter potential fungal problems. With cold nights and hot days it's a struggle to get the temps right, the past few days inside the tunnel have been min 15C at night and up to 30C max during the day which isn't too bad I suppose. I forgot to press 'Start' on the data logger so now I've managed it I will have a better idea of what's going on tomorrow. Diesel generator won't happen as apparently the small ones are only made to run for 5-6 hours meaning I'd need one the size of a small car if it's to go all night.
 
Saturday, May 1 View Page
Oliver's 1567 Gantner which will go in the ground outside today. Has huge 5" cotyledons! This is our final plant, no more backups available. We added some manure to his patch in the autumn, overwintered it with mustard and rye, and tilled in a load of garden compost a few weeks ago.
 
Saturday, May 1 View Page
And in it goes, watered in with Azos, Canna Rhizotonic & Holland's Myco. I'll build a cloche around it before the day is done.
 
Saturday, May 1 View Page
Following on from the above pic I just thought I'd post this from Aug 2017, Paton twins with Oliver in their giant greenhouse.
 
Friday, May 7 View Page
A very floppy and thirsty plant greeted me this morning as the temp hit 35C in the few hours that have passed since dawn. Managing temperature with the cold nights and hot days we're having, without a thermostat or electricity, is like walking a tightrope. I could play it safe but to get the best results you have to push the limits.
 
Friday, May 7 View Page
So with a splash of water and 10 mins later the plant has completely perked up. It's amazing how responsive they are.
 
Saturday, May 8 View Page
The 1542 Urena one week after planting. The good news is that despite the temperature swings the plant has taken and is growing, you can see the vining is just about to start. The bad news is that there is a mole (or mouse?) burrowing directly underneath the plant! Mice I can deal with but moles, which we seem to get every year, are very difficult to eradicate. The soil moisture content is varying from 15-20% so a light watering today with Canna Rhizotonic & ammonium nitrate, ph 6.2 EC 1.3
 
Tuesday, May 11 View Page
Brief report showing progress and vining taking place albeit slightly in the wrong direction so I inserted a small pole for guidance. The weather has settled down somewhat meaning it's easier to maintain the temp in the low to mid 20s throughout both day & night. Otherwise everything is looking healthy and happy, so far so good.
 
Thursday, May 13 View Page
The main vine now established and moving along at 3-4 inches per day. The weather has been mild & cloudy/rainy which means it's much easier to control the temps, but at the expense of less sunlight - there's always a trade-off.
 
Sunday, May 16 View Page
Pic shows progress of 24 hours growth. Trying to keep temps steady, I'm getting the hang of it with various combinations of ventilation sources, fans & the propane burner. Days of sun, cloud & rain, all swapping places several times per day, make it tricky! I'd like to be there 24/7 really but that's impossible of course. Watering for veg growth includes and varies between ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, Canna Vega Organic, phosphite & silica all less than EC 2.0 and pH 6.0 - 6.9 as well as foliar TE.
 
Wednesday, May 19 View Page
Polytunnel interior resembling an intensive care unit, which it is!
 
Friday, May 21 View Page
Moving along nicely, you can tell it's an indoor plant with soft, uniform leaves, as yet unblemished by the rigours of wind and rain. I've made sure that foliar sprays have been with distilled water, amino acids and organic chelates which leave no stains of insoluble salts. It's easily done with a small plant but at 4-5" growth per day it won't be small for much longer.
 
Tuesday, May 25 View Page
We've had precious little sun and warmth this month, but plenty of rain and cold. The 1542 Urena is growing steadily, but is nowhere near as strong & vigorous as the 2469 Daletas last year. It may look healthy n' clean but in comparison to the Daletas it looks lightweight and puny.
 
Friday, May 28 View Page
The main vine now 6-7 feet and a few female buds appearing. Not much in the way of laterals but I am sure that will change soon as time goes on and the weather gets better. The surface of the soil is dry but deeper down it's 20-25% moisture which is perfect because that's where I want the roots to be. I'm also trying out Holland's Kick-a-Poo Joy Juice for the first time which appears to be good stuff.
 
Saturday, May 29 View Page
With the main vine 8-9 feet long it's outgrown the indoor greenhouse, so I've made up this modular grow area which can be expanded as required both widthways and lengthways. The bubble wrap across the top and polycarbonate sheets trap the heat inside during the night. Both are removed in the morning and replaced in the evening. The fan is on 24/7 and at night it directs the warm air from the heater into the grow area. So far the night temperature differential has been 5-10C extra compared to outside and the CO2 gets up to around 1200ppm. Hopefully this setup will be similar though I only expect to have to use it for another month or so when the nights will be warmer and the plant just gets too big.
 
Saturday, May 29 View Page
Another pic where it's pretty much complete. One of the benefits of only growing one plant is that I can spend time doing stuff like this. I wouldn't want to have to do the same for 2, 3 plants or more.
 
Saturday, May 29 View Page
The first hot day of the year today and the fogging system has worked a treat. Unlike the mister I used last year, the fogger produces much smaller droplets ie 50nm which cool the air rather than wet it. The temp went down from 30 to 25C in just a few mins, and the wilting leaves perked up considerably.
 
Sunday, May 30 View Page
The leaves look ok, a bit small perhaps, but the colour and texture is good. The main vine now about 9 feet. What's missing is the side vines. There's one coming from the stump, about 4 feet long, and that's it. There should be another opposite, and the others proceeding up the vine from the stump end should be several inches long at least. You can see that the buds have appeared, but they're just not growing. So what's going on??? My guess is that because I've applied rooting hormone on the nodes along the main vine, it's inhibited the growth of the side vines coming from the nodes. The signal at the node is for the plant to make roots, not grow shoots and extend vines. So from now on I will only apply rooting hormones to the side vines, not the main vine. They may grow out of it, they may not. If they do, great, but if not, then I'll grow some tertiaries off the secondaries further up the vine down towards the stump area to compensate. I'll also train the secondaries to go back at an angle. A bit of a setback, but that's what happens when you 'try stuff', you learn from your mistakes!
 
Sunday, June 6 View Page
We had a short holiday in Dartmoor this week and upon return the main vine has reached 12ft. The secondaries have made some progress too, though the ones nearer the vine tip seem to be outgrowing the ones nearer the stump. Not quite sure what's going on there. The pic shows one of the older leaves near the stump. New leaves look fine. I could be wrong but to me this looks like K deficiency, probably/possibly because there's Ca, Ammonium or another competing cation. I've attempted to rectify with potassium nitrate (water) and Solufeed Kalium 50 (foliar).
 
Monday, June 7 View Page
First sighting today of this little lady on the main vine at about 13ft. Once the nodes lengthen it should be at about 14-15ft which will be the best spot given the limited space I have.
 
Monday, June 7 View Page
Still a bit stumped as to why all but one of the early secondaries failed to take off. I'll never know for sure. The later ones are now racing ahead. That said, all the secondaries are a bit thin for my liking, so thin that Paton pots just dwarf them. I won't use any for the time being and will just bury the vines instead in the usual way with Holland's myco, Great White liquid myco, Clonex, TNC Bactorr etc
 
Wednesday, June 9 View Page
I let this one open today and selfed it so I can do a little experiment with some cytokinin. Pretty flower with good symmetry that bodes well. On another note, the thermostat for the fogger decided to stop working today, typical that it was the hottest day of the year so far. I swapped it for a timer that switches on every hour for 5 mins. Hourly isn't enough but it's the only alternative and better than nothing.
 
Thursday, June 10 View Page
It looks like the fruit will grow on the right hand side of the vine, as viewed this way on. So today I moved the vine to the right to get some curvature, and got the growing board in position. The pumpkin will grow on the board, and I'll curve the vine back so pumpkin sits at the apex of the curve. It's much easier and safer to get this stuff out of the way now before side vines, large leaves and rooted nodes make things tricky.
 
Sunday, June 13 View Page
I've installed a galvanised metal grid walkway above and along the main vine. The grid structure means air and light can get through, and the leaves will grow around it. The ground stakes have been in place for several months already so I wouldn't have to damage any roots hammering them in. Now I can get to weeds, rogue tertiaries and spray the interior of the plant when it gets too big to access from the edge. I'll also be able to keep an eye on the health of the main vine and the interior of the plant in general. Getting access like this to the heart of the plant, without damaging leaves and compacting soil, has always been a problem so I hope this will be the remedy.
 
Sunday, June 13 View Page
No more extra N now as the plant enters the flowering phase. Every day I move the main vine an inch or so in order to get a strong curve just where the female flower sits on the convex side. Small daily movements will help the plant grow into shape, rather than a single forceful movement later on which may compact, stress or damage interior vasculature. A broad and healthy phloem is one of the main reasons why pumpkins grow so big so it needs careful handling.
 
Monday, June 14 View Page
Temp chart from the data logger which clearly shows the difference between hourly 5 min misting and temperature-dependent misting. You can see that on 13 June the mister came on at hourly intervals, and in the 5 mins it was on, the temp only went down a few degrees, staying in the upper 20s and low to mid 30s for much of the day. On a sunny day this is clearly too hot and certainly not ideal. Today (14 June) I got a replacement thermostat for the one that broke, and set it so the misters come on at 27C and off at 23C. With similar weather to yesterday, the temp barely fluctuated between 23-25C all day! Very happy with that. Now I just have to get those night temps up a bit, hopefully will get that sorted by the end of the week.
 
Tuesday, June 15 View Page
This looks like it might open tomorrow at 17ft so I'll be up at dawn to check on it.
 
Wednesday, June 16 View Page
I had planned to bring in a pollinator in advance but this happened all of a sudden so it was selfed this morning. The test pollination last week looks a goer so let's hope this 5 lober takes as well. The flower is at 17ft and there are about 19 decent vines behind it plus a few stragglers. I gave a little 'pollinator special' foliar boost with chelated TE and a drop of boron for the pollen tubes ph 6.0 EC 2.4
 
Saturday, June 19 View Page
A period of warm weather this week has led to fast growth, but cold wet weather yesterday and today has slowed things down. We've had guttation on the leaf tips which is no good because I need that transpiration stream to get some calcium to the young fruit which is currently setting itself up as to how it will grow. The earlier experiment with cytokinin hasn't killed the backup pumpkin or caused it to split, which I thought was the main risk, so it's still there growing away on the main vine, just visible in the centre of the pic. I'll apply some to 'the one' now as well (not visible here). I'll know if it takes in a week or so, and if it does then off comes the backup and it's all or nothing.
 
Sunday, June 20 View Page
I've not had a female point upwards like this before so I was a bit concerned about how it would settle down. As it happens it's grown naturally into a more promising horizontal position in just a few days. The vine near the fruit is now about 9" in the air, and I'll try and keep as many leaves & secondaries growing as close to the fruit as possible without them getting in the way. All this with small daily movements to reduce twisting and stress on the vine.
 
Wednesday, June 23 View Page
Settled into position today (Tuesday).
 
Wednesday, June 23 View Page
We haven't seen the sun for about a week, and last night the interior got down to just 6C. Plant growth as noticeably slowed but despite the cold & wet weather things are looking ok. The sun is actually making an appearance today, so out comes the white chair for the first time this year.
 
Friday, June 25 View Page
In an attempt to keep things as warm as possible overnight, I've laid some sheets of bubblewrap over a frame 1m above the whole plant, with a diesel air heater blowing in hot air underneath through some ducting pipes. I might need another heater on the other side, we'll see how it goes, but last night the temp didn't go below 17C, which is much better than the single figures we've seen recently. It takes a while putting the sheeting on in the evening and removing it every morning, but getting the temps right for both day and night are super important if the plant is to metabolise efficiently.
 
Saturday, June 26 View Page
This is the test pollination at DAP 17, about the size of a beach ball and looking good. It's probably taking all the energy away from the main pollination, which looks promising at DAP 10 but a bit too early to tell 100% if it's taken or not. I'll have to decide soon which to keep, give it another day or two. Meanwhile, I fitted a Dosatron to acidify the misting water, at pH 7.8 it was leaving limescale deposits on the leaves which will impede photosynthesis, and will in time clog the emitters. So now I've got it down to a much more acceptable pH 6.6.
 
Sunday, June 27 View Page
OK so I decided to give it the chop today before it got too big to handle. It's never easy doing this, culling a big healthy pumpkin in favour of a smaller one, but some things just have to be done. Today will be cool and cloudy so hopefully the sap pressure won't be too high which might overwhelm the young fruit, because now it's all or nothing.
 
Tuesday, June 29 View Page
This is DAP 13. Today will be cloudy - again - we've only seen the sun once in the past 2 weeks, and in that time I've only had to water twice.
 
Thursday, July 1 View Page
Quick view inside, polytunnel now about 80% full. I won't be terminating the main vine if I can help it, right now it's about 24 foot long, out the door and invading Oliver's patch. I'm also trying to keep as many side vines as possible near to the fruit, which means some intricate vine training including crossing sides over the main. I haven't had to cut any leaves or vines yet though that might change as the pumpkin gets bigger, and I will only do so if I have to. Today will be sunny at last, so I gave a Promess drench and Solufeed Fleury feed for the first time this season.
 
Saturday, July 3 View Page
Quick pic today at DAP 17. Most of the secondaries between the stump and the pumpkin have been terminated now. This week I'll get some sand under the pumpkin and continue with weekly fungicide rotation. Bang on schedule some blackfly have made an appearance so will deal with that too.
 
Monday, July 5 View Page
DAP 19 is 119 OTT, exactly the same as this point last year, but about a week earlier
 
Friday, July 9 View Page
This is DAP 23 showing 97lbs, which is 15% bigger than the same stage last year. We could do with some sun as we haven't seen it since 23 June! I was also a bit careless and managed to damage the pumpkin. That small puncture wound, now filled with sulphur, will be a massive scar come October.
 
Monday, July 12 View Page
It's a looker that's for sure, strong yellow colour and good symmetry all round. This is DAP 26, OTT 187 which is 153lbs, 11% better than this stage last year. We're due some sunshine later in the week and about time too.
 
Wednesday, July 14 View Page
The patch is now 90% full and just a few secondaries yet to be terminated. This year, for the first time, I'm allowing the main vine to run out of the doors and continue outside so that I can have a bigger plant overall. Today it was terminated about 15ft past the pumpkin. We're approaching DAP 30 so peak fruit growth starts about now; I want all the sap pressure to go into the fruit, not the vine.
 
Thursday, July 15 View Page
A period of hot weather is due - we're about to take off!
 
Monday, July 19 View Page
Sunny days at last! It's no secret that sun + warmth = energy. Add the right growing conditions and that translates into growth; we're up 46lb from yesterday to 356lb at day 33. Pretty much the same as last year but there is a long way to go yet.
 
Thursday, July 22 View Page
View from the centre of the patch on the walkway, directly over the main vine. So far it's proved to be very useful for access for spraying and pulling weeds & rogue tertiaries. I've positioned the temp sensor for the nebulisers right in the middle too, with the walkway it's easily accessible. As you can see the plant is extending out of the door and into Oliver's patch where the two plants will battle it out.
 
Saturday, July 31 View Page
Back from a week on holiday and DAP 45 tapes 707lbs, about 30lb a day which is 5% behind last year. Weather has been rain & cloud all week and not much better is forecast. The stem end of the pumpkin has been growing back over the edge of the board and pressing against the vines, so to relieve the pressure I used the winch to pull the board a couple of inches forward.
 
Friday, August 6 View Page
Pumpkin at DAP 51 taping 825lbs, averaging about 21lbs per day this past week. This is about 12% behind the same stage last year, cool and cloudy weather to blame?
 
Friday, August 6 View Page
Pic shows what I think is guttation from the pumpkin surface, mostly at the stump end. It's been going on all week. I'm guessing the sap in the plant is under pressure, but has nowhere to go, so it's being forced out of the pores. Normally this would be staying in the fruit and making it grow and swell, but cold temps means slow growth - the pumpkin just can't grow fast enough to accommodate all the juice that's flowing into it.
 
Saturday, August 14 View Page
Back from another week away on holiday and DAP 58 tapes 963lbs which about 20lbs per day and is 14% down on last year. The plant itself looks ok, so far no sign of bugs or rot. In size it's covering 20% more ground than last year, so I'm hoping this is a long term project.
 
Wednesday, August 18 View Page
Growth is steady at 24lbs per day. A couple of weeks back it was 16% behind last year, now it's 9% behind at 1084lb DAP 63. First signs of PM detected today, Nimrod spray should fix it. We haven't had a full day of sunshine since early July and none for the foreseeable future! Still if it chugs along consistently like this let's see what happens.
 
Saturday, August 28 View Page
Back from holidays again and we have 1213lbs at DAP 72 which is 8% behind last year. The pumpkin has been gaining 12-15lbs per day this past week. There's also a 1" and a 0.5" split at the stump end, the former goes in about 3" but it's not soft inside, fingers crossed it's nothing more than that otherwise it's game over. No more feed now, not even K, just water, phosphite and a weekly fungicide drench/spray rotation to keep the plant going as long as possible.
 
Monday, August 30 View Page
Pic for the above now taping 1257lb at day 75. Last week the gain was exactly 100lbs. It's been cloudy all week and another week of cloud to come.
 
Monday, September 6 View Page
Last week averaged 11lb per day, up 72lb for the week, total is 1329lbs at DAP 82. Things are certainly slowing down as the plant enters its old age phase.
 
Tuesday, September 7 View Page
I've done my best to prevent it but looks like the dreaded Phytophthora is back. I removed some of the affected vines which happened to be the ones closest to the pumpkin. It will probably get to the whole plant in time, so I am probably just delaying the inevitable.
 
Tuesday, September 7 View Page
Not quite sure what is going on here. It looks like some of the leaves are drying out, from the outside in. It happens fast, this leaf was fine yesterday. It's appearing randomly across the plant. Could be a symptom of phytophthora? Not sure.
 
Tuesday, September 7 View Page
Close up pic of the above.
 
Monday, September 13 View Page
Weekly update DAP 89 is 394" OTT which charts 1356lb and growing slowly now about 4lb per day. In the unlikely event it gets to 1400 I'll be happy. No PB this year but I've done my best nevertheless.
 
Monday, September 20 View Page
A modest 30lb gain this week as we continue to make slow progress, with just under 3 weeks to the weigh-off it's taping 1384lbs.
 

 

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