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Cliff's Grower Log -- June 2003

June 2

The 922.5 Emmons plant on June 1

Yeah, I'm doin' better than last year, in the hoophouses that is.

The 652 Pukos plant on June 1

Next is a shot of the "double vine" that is developing on the 296-inch Holland. This is a shame, because this plant was beginning to look like my best. I will try to save the plant. Any suggestions? Should I clip one vine and let the other develop?

The 296-inch Holland is developing a double vine

June 3

Right now, I think only those plants inside the hoophouses are going to be competitive. We had a full day of high winds yesterday, fortunately my hoophouses held... they need to hang on for another 10 days or so!

Of those, site #1 has the 652 Pukos, which already has a 2-foot main heading straight east. It also has the 1049 Holland which is heading toward the north east. These two will not cross, although the rear and secondary vines will compete for space.

In site #2, the 922.5 Emmons is heading east, and the 296-inch Holland is heading west with a split main vine. I don't think there will be a problem in keeping each of these. Right now, the only conflict on the main vines appears to be, if I left the 1049 Holland as is, it would eventually (after 20 feet or more) cross the main of the 922. But I can train these vines away from each other, this should be no problem.

June 4

I clipped one of the double vines on the 296-inch Holland yesterday. Within another day or two the 296-inch Holland and the 652 Pukos will be needing a cut to be made in the plastic so they can send their main vines out. I won't complain, but I wish we were warmer. One more week, and I think warmer temperatures will be fairly permanent. This morning was 45 degrees.

The 922.5 Emmons also has a nice main vine gaining length, but it has a little more space to grow into.

I need to remember that the direction of the main is usually in the OPPOSITE direction of the first true leaf... I did everything backward and I think my wife will be a little upset when I have two main vines running across the peas here in another 10 days.

Ah, this is so exciting. I think I will meet my pollination goals this year (time wise) barring some sort of disaster. Lets see, microbursts, high winds around 50 mph that last all day, a late-June cool down or freeze, bugs, rodents, kids... splits... sigh...

June 5

One local meteorologist is predicting a low of 33 for Sunday morning. Ugh! This means I will have to cover, and it's getting tough to cover these now.

Not only that, but two of my plants should be "out the door" by then. That is, I'll need to cut holes in the hoophouses to let the main vines continue their march. I suppose things could be worse.

652 Pukos on June 5

June 9

The 652 continues to amaze. The main is now a solid 5 feet, maybe more. I need to get out that tape measure. I'm thinking that the hoophouses will need to come down by this Saturday.

June 10

The plastic on the hoophouses is really starting to come apart at the seams. That is, where the plastic was folded when it was packaged, it's simply tearing apart. The effect of 5-6 weeks of sun and weather on the plastic is taking it's toll. Two of my plants have their main vines out. What I need now is to get the wind fence in place, and then proceed with the work of removing the hoophouses. I'll try to keep them up until Saturday, but I'm not sure they will last that long.

Other than this issue, the hoophouses have been a dream come true. It's amazing to see the difference between the plants inside and outside of the hoophouses. Next year, I definitely need at least three of these!

June 12

The hoophouses are now with so many holes that they don't provide any daytime heating, put they do provide a lot of wind protection. I think I'll take them down Saturday, if not sooner.

It's time to start thinking seriously about what stays and what goes... I'd like to keep all four plants, but this would require some serious pruning. Right now the first to go would be the 1049 Holland, although this one has the largest leaves. But the 652 Pukos must stay. In the other site, there is no way to decide between the 922 Emmons and the 296-inch Holland. The Holland had been double vining, but I clipped one, and now it's doing great.

I think some serious pruning might actually be beneficial.

June 16

The hoophouses were removed Friday evening. Saturday, (6/14) I took these pictures...

652 Pukos, me, 1049 Holland

922 Emmons, me, 296-inch Holland

Yeah, I promised to stay away from the front of the camera, but oh well, this gives the plants perspective.

June 20

This has been a great week, but the weather is changing... high winds, colder temps... too bad the perfect weather can't last.

The 1049 Holland has the nicest leaves

I really can't say that any of my four plants are better than any other. A female on the main vine of the 652 is set to open tomorrow! (Or maybe the next day, I'll see tonight.) While this is only 7 or 8 feet out, I may keep it and plan to use it at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in late August. I have plenty of options on the other plants, as well as this same plant.

Male flowers

For newbies, these male flowers are set to open the following morning, which they did. Once the tips of the petals turn yellow and they start looking like this, be ready. Same goes for the females.

A note on windbreaks... I must say, I find amusing a lot of the windbreaks that I see on the web... not to be rude or anything. It's just that they certainly wouldn't work here. I'm in an area where people cannot build "solid" fences, such as a simple cedar fence. It won't hold! Even if the posts are three feet down and set in concrete, a solid fence will be blown down sooner or later.

Even my hoophouses, I purposely built them with the center low to the ground to minimize potential wind damage.

I'm somewhat at a loss as to what to use for a windbreak. I purchased one of those orange construction fences that can be unrolled and set up with rebar. Because it is quite porous, it would hold. But because it is quite porous, it doesn't do me much good. Right now I have some straw bales piled up, and I can move these as the plants grow. Some of them are close to breaking apart next time I move them, however.

Perhaps something on an angle would hold up OK, being on an angle... such as a portable section of cedar fence set on a 45 degree angle. Expensive... and difficult to store.

June 23

Unbelieveable! This morning's low was 33. That is not the worst of it. I've been hit hard by wind over the last four days. All was going so well until recently. I've noticed that since the hoophouses have come down my leaves are much smaller and on 6 to 9 inch stems instead of the 2.5 foot stems that I had before. I guess that's OK, smaller leaves catch less wind?

I don't think my first pollination, "Solstice", will take. After two days, no change. Normally, the first pollination I do each year does not take... but at least I'm way ahead of last year. If only this weather would warm up. But it's predicted to warm up only by the end of the week.

The 652 is throwing up oodles of females... the bulbs are "football" shaped, so that is a good sign. All plants have females visible but none are 10 feet out yet. Maybe next year I need bigger hoophouses!

June 24

It is now 1pm, and it is 56 degrees outside with an 18mph breeze coming from the northeast. Cloudy and grey. Hard to believe this is late June. Any advantage I had, is quietly slipping away this week. The 1049 Holland still looks pretty solid, and the 652 Pukos is still OK. The 296-inch Holland has been ravaged and the 922 Emmons has been decimated. (I've always wanted to use those words...) The "warmup" is still about 48 hours away...

June 27

I pollinated a female on a side vine of the 652 this morning. This one might be the first "keeper". I've had four females open so far, all on the 652. The 296-inch holland has females, but the 1049 and 922 do not have any that I can see! I hope they begin to appear soon, it's starting to get late.

The one that was pollinated this morning had multiple pollinators. There were only two males available, a 652 and one from the 296-inch. I know this means that the seeds from this pumpkin will be a "mixed bag", but I want to get something going for the state fair weighoff which is in late-August. Tomorrow I should have a female open on the 652 main, and I hope I can find adequate pollinators from somewhere.

Time to re-evaluate what I have available for pollinations. I wanted to focus on "F2" crosses this year. Looking at the four plants that are large:

It looks like I will focus on self-ing the 652 and probably the 296 Holland. I will likely cross (as much as possible) the 1049 and 922. I may also pollinate the 296 with the Emmons.

But there are some other survivors in the patch. These plants are much smaller, but could be used as pollinators if the male flowers hurry.

The 810 already is an F2. I could use it anywhere for color. The 971 could certainly factor into the Stelts-Emmons line.

And, there is the 337 Card squash, which will get self-ed if I can get a pollination in time.

Ideally, I'd like to do well this year and work completely from my own seed stocks next year. But of course, some exciting seeds will emerge and I'll probably ditch those plans... ;-)

June 30

Had at least a half-dozen pollinations over the weekend. Most so far are one the 652, the others are on the 296 (512 EST). The 1049 and 922 have no females showing so far! None! Once I see the buds, it may be 10 days before they are ready to pollinate. Oh well, two more weeks of this, and maybe my overcrowding problems will be solved...

Both the 1049 and 922 came from the 705 Stelts. I don't think there is anything to this, however.


Cliff Warren