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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 77 Entries.
Wednesday, February 21 View Page
Pic for previous post
 
Monday, February 26 View Page
The moment that changed my life ! While registering for the Las Vegas GPC Convention a very nice man gave me a seed. I didn't know who he was and had never heard of him. That seed produced a 1911 Chan for me. We became e-mail friends and a few years go by and this same guy gave me another seed. He said this is better than the 1st seed he gave me. It was a 2183 Mendi that grew a 2212 Chan. 5 years later we end in Kasterlee for the GPC Convention and this is where I finally meet the guy who changed my life. His name Don Barron (big guy on the left). By now, everyone knows who is standing beside him !! What a ride !!!
 
Monday, February 26 View Page
Kasterlee was a really neat experience meeting growers from around the world and comparing notes. I'm also pumped up to better my pb from all the enthusiasm these growers have generated. At Half Moon Bay and Kasterlee I met the Spanish champion, Ruben Mendi, big guy on the left, one of the most enthusiastic people you will ever meet. And because it was his seed that produced the 2212 we have decided to attend the Spanish weighoff in September.
 
Monday, February 26 View Page
So my seed selection for this year takes me back to where it all started....with Don Barron. With his new Michigan State record of 2404 I will be gunning for the guy standing beside him. Watch out Travis...lol !!! One night at Kasterlee he had a little too much to drink and gave me all of his secrets !!
 
Monday, February 26 View Page
Why only 1 seed/plant you might be asking? 17 years ago when we moved to our current house, my wife said that I could only grow every other year. After growing for 15 years in a row, I owe her big time for missed holidays. We are leaving Holland for Rome to board a ship to cruise the Mediterranean. Between Kasterlee and Amsterdam, we have seen many amazing sights in Belgium. Next year I'm growing 3 plants!!
 
Monday, March 11 View Page
After the longest holiday of my life, I'm back from Europe and the 1st thing I did was take a soil sample this morning. Actually 14 years of retirement has been one big long holiday lol !!! Because I wasn't able to sow a rye cover crop last fall I decided to keep the patches weed free. The white spots you see on the soil is a combination of crushed oyster shells and PerLite. The oyster shells are applied in the fall to allow them to break down over winter. About 25 lbs per 1000 sq ft. The other white specs you see is Perlite. I've been adding it every year since 2016 at a rate of approximately 7 x 4 cu ft bags per 1000 sq ft. My soil is a clay loam.
 
Wednesday, March 13 View Page
Weather in Richmond has been fairly dry and mild. Perfect for the 1st step of soil preparation....subsoiling. Subsoiling is performed by dragging long tynes through the soil to breakup the hard pan underneath the topsoil. Subsoiling requires a lot of power so that's why you only see 1 blade on my homemade setup. I drive back and forth in 1 ft rows. Local farmers feel that this 1st step is 1 of the most important steps in preparing the soil for any crop.
 
Wednesday, March 13 View Page
Weather in Richmond has been fairly dry and mild. Perfect for the 1st step of soil preparation....subsoiling. Subsoiling is performed by dragging long tynes through the soil to breakup the hard pan underneath the topsoil. Subsoiling requires a lot of power so that's why you only see 1 blade on my homemade setup. I drive back and forth in 1 ft rows. Local farmers feel that this 1st step is 1 of the most important steps in preparing the soil for any crop.
 
Monday, March 18 View Page
The 1st amendment I've always used but not often mentioned is Granular Humic. It's a really old product that has been used in gardens for decades. I thought it was for organic growers and flowers but wouldn't hurt the pumpkins. Now they are discovering that humic and fulvic are very important to the biologicals in the soil. Maybe it's helped more than I thought!!!
 
Monday, March 18 View Page
If you can see the recommended application rate you will see that it suggests 89 lbs per acre. I've always applied it 25lbs per 1000 sq ft.....a lot more than the suggested rate !!
 
Sunday, March 24 View Page
So you've spent a lot of money and time on soil tests, analysis of the tests and purchasing all the amendments. Now the hard work. Spreading hundreds of pounds of fertilizers. If you don't spread the amendments equally, all your analysis and tests are a waste of time !! Too much in one spot and you have an excess. Too little in another won't be enouigh. I divide my patch into 6 sections. Then I weigh the amendments into 6 portions ...especially the small amounts of micros and borax etc. Then add 5 to 8 lbs of something bigger like SOP or gypsum in a 5 gallon pail and mix with a paddle mixer in an electric drill as in the pic I posted. Spreading and mixing will give a much better distribution and less problems.
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
This my soil test for this month. I'll calculate the amendments with the Langley soil analysis and post later
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
Same analysis enlarged so that it can be read easier...I hope
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
These are the amendments I added to 1930 sq ft : 13 Lbs SOP 150 lbs gypsum 20 lbs Manganese sulphate 2 lbs Borax 2 lbs Zinc sulphate 0.2 lbs Copper sulphate 30 lbs Urea 30 lbs Calcium Nitrate
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
Amendments added along with 12 bags of PerLite and cultivated .
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
2 soil heating cables buried in a 6ft x 6ft square pattern. Frame erected over the soil heating cables ready for 6 mil greenhouse poly.
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
A list of materials needed for this hoop house. 4 x 12ft 1/2" PVC pipe. Specify Sched 40 because it's thicker and stroger than the cheaper pipe. 1 x 10 ft Pipe for the center ridge beam. 8 x 3.5 ft 1/2" rebar. Space the rebars 9 ft apart. Poly cover is 6 mil greenhouse poly but any poly will do 13ft x 11 ft. And enough poly to enclose the sides. Use extra large binder clips to fasten poly sheet to PVC pipes.
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
For a really efficient hoop house you need 3 more items. A small space heater, a small fan and a set of grow lights.
 
Tuesday, March 26 View Page
Clamp poly on with binder clips. Add end covers.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
This is the line up for 2024. My choice is based of 2 factors, luck and genetics. Don Barron has generously provided me seeds in the past 3 winning years . Hope to make it 4 in a row ! So this year I'm growing Don's winninig seeds from last year. The genetics of both seeds have grown some of the biggest best pumpkins in the world.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
I'm detailing my filing method for some new growers I'm mentoring
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
File the edges until you can see the joint between the 2 seed halves. Don't touch the tip.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Soak the seeds in room temperature water for 5 hours. The dark color of the water is from a pinch of kelp powder. I've been doing that for years but can't remember why..lol...old age.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
After a 5 hour soak we're going to place the seeds on 3 moist paper towels.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Fold the 3 paper towels over each other.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Pour some of the soaking liquid on the paper towels.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Sqeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. One big error in starting seeds is having the paper towels too wet.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Place the seeds on the "dry" paper towels and fold in half. Place them carefully in the ziplock bag. Make sure the seeds are in the same position within the folded paper towels.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
If you are lucky like me you will have a built in seed incubator. This is in the form of heater floors in a bathroom or kitchen. Place the ziplock directly on the floor.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Cover seeds with a heavy folded towel or bath mat and cover the mat with a cookie sheet. This will keep the seeds warm and dark.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Set the thermostat to 76 to 78 degrees F. Check the seeds in 48 hrs. I've had 99.9 % success with this method. If heated floors are not available then a heat matt will need to be purchased.
 
Saturday, March 30 View Page
Prepare 1 gallon pots by washing them clean with dish soap and water. Fill with ProMix potting soil. Soak the ProMix until water flows out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. Discard the water in the trays. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Leave them on a heated floor or heat matt for the 2 days while you're waiting for the seeds to germinate.
 
Monday, April 1 View Page
47 hrs later and all 3 seeds have germinated.
 
Monday, April 1 View Page
Make a small hole in the soil ablout 2 inches deep. Use anything to make the hole. I always use a Sharpie pen. Top of the seed is about 1 inch below the surface of the soil.
 
Monday, April 1 View Page
Drop the seed in the hole root side down and cover with the ProMix. The plants should breal ground in 2-3 days.
 
Monday, April 1 View Page
I just want to mention that we often talk about deficiecies when looking at soil tests. The other reason to analyse soil is to look for excesses. I recently saw a soil test that was ecessively high in pottassium(600+ppm), phosphorus(600+ppm) and manganese(250+ppm) but extremely low in calcium(1000 ppm). I only mention this because I think one is working blindly without a soil tests. It may be the most important step in growing a giant. The soil that I'm discussing grew a 2000 plus pound pumpkin in 2023! The soil test in the picture is a random test to grab your attention (not the one I'm discussing).
 
Wednesday, April 3 View Page
It's nice to know if your hard work is doing something. This meat cooking probe thermometer is ideal. Top temp is outside air. 2nd is outside soil temp. 3rd is inside hoop air temp. 4th is inside hoop soil temp over heating cables. Ready for the babies.
 
Thursday, April 4 View Page
This picture was taken at 8am . The plants are almost out of the soil and the seed coat is trying to get off. If it looks"loose" then you can try to gently tease it off...or wait a little longer for it to come off by itself.
 
Thursday, April 4 View Page
This pic taken at 6 pm on the same day as the the previous pic....10 hours later. Shell is off( Iteased it off) and the 2 cot leaves are spread out and growing. At this stage your potting soil should be moist enough so that no watering or fertilizing will be needed.
 
Saturday, April 6 View Page
Exactly 1 week since filing and soaking seeds.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
10 days since filing the seeds. No water or fertilizers have been added to the ProMix.
 
Tuesday, April 9 View Page
The soil is warming up. This the weed germination of my outside patch.
 
Wednesday, April 10 View Page
2nd true leaf starting to form.
 
Thursday, April 11 View Page
Day 12 Fiirst watering yesterday for the Barron 2404
 
Thursday, April 11 View Page
Big day yesterday in my outside patch. All amendments added and patch cultivated. The soil in this patch has never looked better. Usually at this time of year we are very wet but BC is in a drought.
 
Thursday, April 11 View Page
The Langley calculations for my 770 sq ft outside patch
 
Friday, April 12 View Page
We start many seeds (if we're lucky enough to have them) to see if there's a better one or a poor one. The center plant has always looked best and it's proving itself now. Everything is good to go in the greenhouse so I will betransplanting the middle one tomorrow.
 
Saturday, April 13 View Page
Transplanting the 15 day old starter plant is quite simple. Prepare a large space for the plant and sprinkle some Mycorrhrizae and Azos (azospirillium) in the hole and mix into the soil.
 
Saturday, April 13 View Page
Remove the plant from the pot and lay it in the hole. It's important to note which is the 1st true leaf (the largest leaf) and place it in the opposite direction you want the pumpkin vine to grow in. You can also see that I've laid the whole plant at an angle pointing to the direction you want the vine to grow.
 
Saturday, April 13 View Page
One thing I forgot to mention is to water the planting spot before you cover the plant. Then water the soil around the plant some more to make sure roots and surrouding soil is moist...not drowning!!
 
Tuesday, April 16 View Page
This is my CO2 setup for the hoophouse. The gas regulator is set on the lowest setting and I'm hoping a tank will last at least 10 days. We'll post when the tank empties. The 2 black lines runnig into the greenhouse are power and the other is the CO2 feed. This tube is strapped to the ridge beam to allow the CO2 to drop onto the plant.
 
Tuesday, April 16 View Page
This "black box" monitors the CO2 and regulates it between a high of 900 ppm and a low of 700 ppm. The only thing I can't automate is shutting it off when the sun goes down. I need to go in the greenhouse and turn it off manually.
 
Thursday, April 18 View Page
I'm a guy. I don't read instructions. But when I did, I discovered that the black box has a built in light sensor that shuts off the CO2 at night. It also has a setting to shut down the CO2 when the temperature gets too high.
 
Thursday, April 18 View Page
The Barron 2404
 
Friday, April 19 View Page
When I'm transporting pumpkins to weighoffs, I place them on 1.5" thick 4'x8' sheets of inexpesive styrofoam. One side of these sheets of styrofoam is coated with a very shiny reflective aluminum foil. Since the north side of a greenhouse provides very little if any light to the plants, I decided to reuse these sheets to line the north side of my greenhouse to reflect some light toward the plant. The effect is quite obvious. Hope this will lots of pounds ! The orange outline is the impression the 2212 that went 2500 miles to Sacremento and Half Moon Bay and back to Richmond.
 
Tuesday, April 23 View Page
Just an update on the Barron 2404
 
Tuesday, April 23 View Page
The Barron 2144's starting
 
Saturday, April 27 View Page
Barron 2404. Now if only the main vine would settle down !!
 
Wednesday, May 1 View Page
Just an FYI picture for CO2. The tank was left over from last year and I don't know how much was in it. I started CO2 on April 16th and now 2 weeks later we are on the same tank. On a daily basis I can't see the gauge on the tank going down. The CO2 concentration is set at 900 ppm. It doesn't take much to fill the hoop.
 
Wednesday, May 1 View Page
The 2404 Barron yesterday. It's well ahead of the 2183 Mendi of last year. We still haven't given it any fertilizers with any macro or micro nutrients. Only biologicals containing kelp, azos, mykos, subtilis bacteria, humic and fulvic, enzymes and chitin have been given as a drench every other day. Today we start adding a vitaminB complex to the above mixture.
 
Saturday, May 4 View Page
Barron 2404 about 6 ft long 37 days from soaking. Today was the 1st day of vine burying because the secondary roots are popping out of the nodes. I'm trying a slightly different method of burying vines this year. Last year I mixed everything into the mixture and then covered the vines. This year I'm spreading some Azos and Mykos under the node and then burying with a 50/50 mixture od compost and sand. Diluting with sand because the compost is super rich. Last year I didn't water in the burying mixture. This year I'm drenching the mixture on the vines with a concocotion of biologicals. So just to repeat myself, which I do a lot more of as I get older, I still have not given the plant any "fertilizer" of any sort. I know everything the plant needs is in the soil. The experiment is to see if adding lots of biologicals will make the system more efficient. Seems to be working. Those big leaves are 2 ft across. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.
 
Monday, May 6 View Page
I ran out of cylinder tank CO2 feeding the small hoop so I started up the propane CO2 geneartor. I ran it for 7 hrs and it couldn't make enough CO2 in such a large greenhouse (2000 sq ft). Then I got a brainwave at 3am !!! Ya, I know , we're sick !!
 
Monday, May 6 View Page
The brainwave was to make a section of the greenhouse smaller. It worked. Reducing from 2000 to 500 sq ft allowed the CO2 generator to get to 900 ppm in about 5 to 10 minutes. Also, I didn't know how much heat the generator was going to make. As it turns out the heat loss through the single layer of poly was much more than the heat generated and the temp in the greenhouse didn't rise.
 
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
She hit the end this morning.....9 ft long.
 
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
Barron 2404
 
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
Everything is dialed in nicely. Top temp was 45 F earlier this morning. Cooler than normal for Richmond. Next temp is the outside soil temp. This is the first day outside soil temp is over 60 F. Weeds are growing like crazy and I've covered a lot of bare soil with weed cloth to save myself a lot of time. 3rd temp is the air temp inside the hoop. Bottom temp is the soil temp over the soil heating cables.
 
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
The previous thermometer pic was taken at 6:50 am. At 11:59 am it was 95 F.
 
Wednesday, May 8 View Page
!8 minutes later it was over 100 F! Needed to turn the misters on for the 1st time this year.
 
Saturday, May 11 View Page
A senior moment. Forgot to open the greenhouse in the morning to attend a breakfast event. By noon the temperature was 115 F. The thermometer says 110 but that pic was 10 min after I opened everything. Also, the exhaust fan was on but clearly not powerful enough. I installed another fan.
 
Saturday, May 11 View Page
This is the effect of 115 F temps. The next post will show how it rebounded by this morning.
 
Sunday, May 12 View Page
Luckily I think she'll be alright. One young leaf was damaged but the plant seems to be OK this morning. I'm wondering if all the biologicals are working to increase the stress tolerance?
 
Sunday, May 12 View Page
Up until today I set my CO2 generator to 900 ppm. After seeing Travis's YouTube yesterday I increased it to 1200 ppm.
 
Sunday, May 12 View Page
My CO2 generator is an 8 burner model with only 4 burners installed. The other 4 are plugged. I did this hoping I could generate a slow steady amount of CO2 without creating too much heat. It works well but is slow. This morning I installed a space heater which I used last year to make CO2. It can generate 300 to 400 ppm in minutes. Once it gets up to 1200 ppm, it gets turned off and the "real" CO2 generator will maintain.
 
Thursday, May 16 View Page
Barron 2404. Main vine 13 ft long. Leaves are very big ...2ft across. The plant is doing well but right from the beginning I noticed that the 1st and 2nd secondaries on the right were runts. The long secondary on the right is #3. Number 2 secondary on the left is also a runt. All other secondaries are developing normally. I'll fill the empty spots with tertiaries and hope for the best. I'll also delay pollination to allow the plant to form a few more secondaries to make up for the missing ones. Fingers crossed!
 
Monday, May 20 View Page
A fun picture....for a pumpkin grower....lol. Stakes are showing daily gains with the orange stakes at the 15 ft mark. Vine burying is happening but very few tertiaries popping up! 15 good secondaries formed.
 
Wednesday, May 22 View Page
We had a wind storm 2 nights ago. The last hoop was blown upwards 2 ft off the rebar and the poly was sitting right on top of the vines and leaves. Luckily no damage to the Barron 2144.
 
Thursday, May 23 View Page
This is my new toy. It's a 24 volt solenoid activated water control valve. I'm hoping to plug the transformer into a temperature regulated controller to turn my mister system on when the temps get over 80 F. On a sunny day it means that the valve will be activated for about 5 hours. My question is : Will that solenoid valve survive being on for 5 continuous hours? Please feel free to comment.
 

 

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