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Cliff's Grower Log -- September 2002

September 3

My fruit on the Carter 995 turned out to be 240, good for 3rd place at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.

Freeze, well,... firstly, I have troubles with this tape measure I use. (Of all the things...) This tape has both inches and circumference estimates on the tape. Problem is, that around the 60 to 70 inch mark the inches coorespond to the circumference estimate. That is, 60 inches in circumference is close to 60 estimated pounds. What happens, is that I read the circumference estimate and mistake that as inches. This happened to me on the front-to-back measurement when I came back from my San Jose trip...

So what does this mean? It means I'm about 30 pounds less than I thought. Worse, is that its not growing at the rate I need to get to 400. Arg. When I came back from my trip, I noted that it was growing 10 pounds per day while I was gone... WRONG!

This is not the first time I've done this. I've got to get a permanent "Sharpie" marker and circle the estimate numbers around the 60 to 70 area to prevent this mistake in the future.

Secondly, Freeze is developing a crease, a deep rib, which usually preceeds a split. Stay tuned.

September 4

Well, my worst fears with Freeze are confirmed. Its growth has slowed to *maybe* a pound a day. Right now its at 283. I dumped some fertilizer on it, and can only hope to push it above the 300 mark.

I'm really tempted to prune out all the unneeded vines on all plants and get a head start working on next year's soil. I think I now know what I've done wrong, and can remedy that for next year. I'll probably write that up in this space in the coming days.

Cliff going green? - OK, now that this year is essentially a done deal, I'm already daydreaming about next year. Am I sick or what? The 922.5 Emmons 01 looks like an awesome seed. From what I've seen, the main challenge is keeping it from blowing up. I have one, and will probably use it next year. But, this is interesting... I'm finding a desire to also grow a squash next year. Not some middle of the road pink/grey/pale thing, but a true honest-to-goodness dark green giant squash. Three giant pumpkin plants and one giant squash. That's it!

My annual list of things to do better next year: (under development)

Comments? Don't hesitate to email me!

September 6

Yesterday some friends came over, so I'm obliged to show the pumpkins. I got the tape measure out as well, as I usually have to demonstrate how one estimates these things. Well, then I find out that this thing is still growing. Fourteen pounds over the last two days, nothing to bemoan. OK, finally I have pictures:

If you see a lot of weeds and not many leaves, well, you get the picture. You can also see where I'm concerned over cracking:

I'll just keep at it. If it splits, oh well.

"Dad, have I kept you out of the patch this year?"

"Yes son, but it's 100% OK..."

September 9

We had our first real rain since May on Friday. It really poured, and the patch got a good soaking. Freeze gained 2.5 inches in circumference in a short period after that, and I felt that it would split for sure. But, so far, so good.

We went to the fair as a family on Friday. It was fun to have so many people say, "Hey, I saw your pumpkin at the fair!". Well, I hope we can expand this and develop a more serious weighoff at the fair for the future. Over the 9 days, this fair brings in, what, 100K people? I think a real weighoff and giant pumpkin display would be a winner. Of course, we need to grow the really big ones to be able to bring them...

I'm gathering options on getting a serious amount of compost brought in. The job is just too big for me to try to do all of it with my pickup.

September 10

A crisp September morning, low of 37.

I went back to Blackfoot last night to retrieve my small but attractive entry into the fair. Alas, the place was locked up and witnesses note that all the goods, including giant pumpkins were loaded up in trucks and hauled away. Hmm... this is not the way to make friends with giant pumpkin growers. I've been pumpkin 'napped!

September 12

Freeze is now at nearly 330 pounds. It seems to do nothing for a few days, then take a deep breath and pop out a few more inches. I can live with that. It's cantalouping and turning orange.

I still have no idea where my pumpkin that I displayed at the fair is. Hopefully someone will enjoy it.

September 16

Here is another view of Freeze, which now tapes out to 340:

You can see how the right hand side has failed to develop. I've mentioned that this pumpkin is only 6-7 feet out on the main, well, its really barely 5 feet out! Imagine if I could have got this plant to grow and get this fruit 15 feet out and pollinate it on July 1st! Considering all this, 350 pounds (hoping to add 10 more) is not bad. I will likely plant this 831 Zunino once again next year.

Elsewhere in my garden are lots and lots of regular halloween type pumpkins. I'm estimating that we have at least 200, most of which will be given away. Here are some signs of the season:

This year I'm growing the "Howden" in addition to the "Jack O'Lantern" variety, and I really like them. I got my seeds by going to WalMart and buying one large Howden pumpkin, and taking those seeds out. If you buy a little packet of seeds, that may cost $1.50, but this whole pumpkin at five cents a pound cost $1.50, and yielded all the seeds I could possibly plant in 5 years.

September 18

We're supposed to have frost on Saturday morning. That would be the 21st, and that's about the best we can expect here. Last year we had a frost on September 8th, which killed the leaves but wasn't cold enough to kill the vines. Then, with another three weeks of good weather, many leaves actually grew back!

I'm preparing myself for the morning of black death...

September 23

We had a frost Sunday morning. All leaves are black. This was officially two weeks later than our first frost last year. To tell you the truth, I was glad for this one, so I can go ahead and begin to clear the patch and get ready for next year. I did save the plant between the stump on the 831 Z and my 340 EST.

September 26

Not much to write about these days. Just waiting for the weighoff. Stay tuned to Cliff's Pumpkinzone in October for all the weighoff coverage, and also coverage of our annual October pumpkin party.


Cliff Warren