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Cliff's Grower Log -- August 2003

August 4

The sunflowers are doing wind duty.

Well, after all the improvements this year, I'm not really that much different than past years. After the awesome start in the hoophouses, I just don't have much to show for it. Betelgeuse is truly dead in it's tracks, and I may remove the plant. The only reason I keep it around is to provide wind protection to the 922.

Yes, I take the estimated weight I have now, and look at how fast I'm currently growing, and the number of days I have until frost (early September around here) and begin to realize that my goal (500) is still extremely difficult to reach.

My biggest hope is on the 922. There were three pumpkins on the plant, I took one off this morning, and will take the other one off, as soon as I see "Orion" slow down any.

I absolutely love the 1049 plant. Notice I said plant. The plant is incredible. The fruit is small, so far.

August 5

I'm going to spend a lot of effort on Orion over the next few days, and also measure daily to see if I'm making any progress. My latest theory is that my soil lacks organic matter, so much so that it can't retain and supply enough water to the plant. If one expects a fruit to grow 20 pounds per day, well that 20 pounds of water (mostly) must come from somewhere.

August 6

OK, Orion added 7 OTT inches, for 13 pounds, since yesterday. I think this is in direct response to Monday night when I poured on the water and fertilizer. Maybe I do need to concentrate more on the feeding.

August 11


I don't know exactly what it is, or what it was. The 296-inch Holland plant has been pulled up and dumped in a "dry corner" of the garden. It was definitely infected with something. I'm thinking "powdery mildew", the undersides of the leaves where white in many places, the plant was wilting even though the ground has been kept quite moist. It was as if the plant itself was getting smaller. The color of the leaves became quite pale. Hmmm... I could probably figure it out, but I'm just really bummed out right now. I now know why the large fruit on this plant simply stopped growing a few weeks ago.

I should be taking pictures, documenting this... but I'm just too bummed on one side, and two busy on the other.

So far, the other three plants are fine...

August 13

Time for some pictures. I was about to give up on this year. Extreme heat, and I guess I really need some help on my soil. I just can't get things to grow like I want... I start out strong, but after the 20-day mark my pumpkins don't grow like many others I see.

I think my high soil pH (7.8 at last measure) is hurting my ability to get calcium to the plant. We're also having problems with blossom end rot on our tomatoes.

I'm essentially down to one fruit on each plant. On the 652 Pukos:

Arcturus - 652 Pukos X Self - Day 53

This one is as dense as a rock. Maybe it will weigh heavy. But it's only 52-58-90.5 = 200.5 OTT and has put on a grand total of 2 pounds in the last day. I just keep it around because there is no better alternative. I do want the seeds. Actually, this is the leading candidate for the fair. But I need to beat last year's 240... There is actually one other fruit growing on this plant, and I should cut it in hopes of getting this one going a little more.

On the 1049 Holland:

Cassiopeia - 1049 Holland X Self - Day 33

This one is tiny, 57-51-73 = 181 OTT on day 33. It gained 7 pounds over the last 24 hours. It should have nice color. This might be a spectacular display pumpkin, if it turns a nice deep orange or red.

Finally, my ray of hope, on the 922.5 Emmons:

Orion - 922.5 Emmons X Self - Day 34

It's at 61-58.5-90 = 209.5 OTT or 195 pounds on day 34. The interesting thing that I noticed this morning is that it gained 17 pounds over the day before. This is a record for me. It gained 5 inches in circumference. This must be a mistake! But I need to keep that 17 pounds a day going for another 3 weeks to reach my goal of 500. Can I do it? Stay tuned.

August 15

Yesterday was 102, another record. This has easily been the hottest summer on record here. Some years we don't have any days in the 100's. This year, what, 25 or more? And no rain.

Unfortunately I didn't get to measure this morning, but I'm sure that Orion isn't giving me 17 pounds per day.

August 18

Well, so much for this year...

Orion, my last great hope, has slowed to about 2 pounds per day. I have no idea, at around day 20 my pumpkins slow way down and practically stop by day 30. All of them have followed this formula!

We've been extremely hot since late June, however this morning our low was in the mid-40's.

Last Friday night we had a wind storm during the night that toppled some of my sunflowers. This is unbelieveable! I've never had wind that broke sunflowers!

So much for my wind fence...

Back to pumpkins... I don't know why I can't put on pounds. I bought some Daconil and sprayed Saturday. Maybe I have powdery mildew and don't realize it? I had to pull one plant this year that went totally down, and this is my first realization that this sort of thing can indeed affect me here in the desert. It's been so hot this year that I have stepped up the water, probably too much.

Maybe I should do something else with my time. I don't know, it's hard to spend all season worrying about this and have no idea what happens to these things when they slow down at day 20. Here is my list of suspects:

These are just theories. Maybe a soil test will help. It certainly is necessary.

I think I'll take something to the Eastern Idaho State Fair, but going to Thanksgiving Point is quite tenuous at this time. If I can lift the pumpkin into the truck myself,... well... I guess there is no expense for a tarp or a new pallet this year. Hard to believe that a week from Thursday it will be time to load up for the fair.

August 21

Went out last night to measure, and Orion now hasn't done anything in a week. It has totally stopped.

My fruit on the 652 Pukos is now the only one still growing. In fact, it's about 60 days old now. It's growing, slowly... This one will go to the Eastern Idaho State Fair, so I can get a real weight. These seeds should be good. (652 Pukos X self)

August 25

Well, now I know why Orion (922.5 Emmons X Self) stopped growing about 10 days ago...

Orion goes down in a pile of mush

Unfortunately, fruit of this seed have a history of doing this. With it's fast growing habit, I thought it might be a good seed for me. On one hand, this is a little reassuring, in that at least I know what happened! I was getting frustrated, not knowing why the fruit wasn't growing.

Anyone want my other 922.5 seed? I traded heavily to get it.

This leaves two real fruits in the patch. One is Arcturus, which is solid as a rock (652 Pukos). This will be cut Thursday and taken to the Eastern Idaho State Fair. It's measuring to about 270 right now, but I think it has a chance to weigh heavy.

The other one is turning bright orange, but is still quite small. It's on the 1049 Holland plant. From the beginning I've loved this plant, but it just hasn't been in a hurry to grow. Maybe I'll take it to Thanksgiving Point, or maybe I'll show up at Thanksgiving Point just to take pictures.

August 26

Last night I was looking at the 652 Pukos plant and the fruit I have "growing" there, and noticed that I really missed the boat on this one. This one is the real deal. The fruit on the 652 (Arcturus) is only 5.5 feet out! Every year, I see a pollination that I like, and fool myself into thing that this is enough. Next year I'm making a radius line of about 12 feet around the plant and nothing is going to be allowed inside it! And, Arcturus has had NO leaves driving it for the last 40 days or so (they got blasted in wind). As I look back, the critical decision I made was taking the hoophouses down a week too early. Right after I took the hoophouses down we had 10 days of really cold temperatures, and some strong wind storms. As such, my plants were on track to be easily ready for pollination with 10 foot or more on the mains... they slowed way down and didn't make it.

Well, taking the hoophouses down early was mostly bad luck, as that weather we had was unusual. But a critical mistake I made was to plant the seedlings wrong! That is, the main usually forms in the direction OPPOSITE the first true leaf! I had it in my mind that it was in the same direction as the first true leaf. And because of that, my plants reached the edge of the hoophouse sooner than they should have... It goes to show that critical mistakes early on can really have a big impact on the final outcome.

Aside from the things I've learned (the hard way) this year, I'm also getting the seeds from Arcturus (652 Pukos X Self). These (IMHO) are like having 300 of the 652 Pukos seeds, and better yet, these are F2 and ready for crossing! One of my two or three plants next year will be this "250 Warren" or whatever the final weight is. Like I say, this fruit on the 652 appears to be the real deal, solid, dense, and in the right spot it should be a good grower.


Cliff Warren