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Cliff's Grower Log -- July 2004

July 6

Well, I better start July before it's over. Time is moving so fast. I just had a shed put in today. This might help a little with the wind. Or not. I think maybe the winds could be more destructive with how they will go up and over and back down the other side of the shed. Time will tell.

Here is an update on each plant:

1005 Mombert: The best plant I've ever had. Now, if I can only get some fruit on it. The female bud on the main is taking forever to develop. I am pruning this plant only very lightly, as a thick plant helps me combat the wind. I will definitely self this one, and hope that I can grow a large fruit that will produce many excellent, aggressive seeds. Aside from the main, there are probably 10 other females currently forming at the end of the various vines.

576 Michalec: This once was in second place; now it's a tie for second with the 691 Michalec. I can see how this plant has richer "green" genes. It's developing into a "triangle" shape. My plan is to self one fruit and use the 867 Mombert as a pollinator for another. All in the name of science. ;-)

691 Michalec: This one is picking up the pace, just as Chris thought it would. It has very slender vines, which is puzzling. But it is growing fast. It may be the first plant to produce an open female. Likely I will look to cross this one with the 867 and 1005 Momberts.

867 Mombert: Still a very small plant. It is growing out very slowly, and is forming a crescent shape between the main and "rear main" vines. Side vines are slow to develop. Ah, I want a good fruit on this one, but it may become primarily a pollinator. I will self it and see what happens.

978.6 Berard This plant started "flat vining" a few weeks ago and is even smaller than the 867. It is weird looking. I would have yanked it, but there is nothing to take it's place and it does provide some wind protection to the other plants, so it will stay where it is.

July 8

I was surprized to find 5 females open this morning. One on the main of the 691, one on a secondary of the 1005, and three on the 576, one of which is on the main. I'll list the pollination data here, trying to recreate this from memory... and double check against my notes later. Soooo busy...

Plant Vine Lobes Pollinator
691 Michalec Main 5 867 Mombert
1005 Mombert Secondary 4 Self
576 Michalec Main 4 Self
576 Michalec Secondary 5 Self
576 Michalec Secondary 4 691 Michalec

Very cold and windy this morning... not as many males available as I would have hoped, but we got the job done.

July 12

I've had nearly 20 pollinations over the last five mornings. Things are looking good. Finally, some photos to share:

The 1005 Mombert plant on July 11...

The gnome stands guard over a fruit on the 1005 rear.

Fruit on the 576 Michalec, notice the green.

The fate of the 978.6 Berard. I've never seen such a FLAT vine!

July 16

I should do an update... I've been away for a few days. The fruits on the 576 squash are looking excellent. They are gaining size quickly.

I'm a little bit worried about the 1005 Mombert. Most of the fruit appears to be aborting, or it wants to grow right on top of the vine. Then again, there are dozens of fruits, and I'm sure that one of them will work out. I started more aggressive pruning this morning and will try to keep up with it.

I'm not sure what is up with the 691. But there are a few that appear to be "taking"...

Talk about surprizes, this morning I had 5 open females on the 867 Mombert. This is good, as the first two on either end of the plant appear to be aborting. I'm glad I made the trip out to the patch this morning. I pruned the Berard heavily to keep it from growing into the Mombert.

July 19

Dear Diary:

The 1005 has become even more of a monster and I've resorted to heavy pruning to keep it in check. There are about 4 potential fruits on the plant right now. Unfortunately, most of these have very short stems or are badly positioned on the vine. One of them is actually growing on top of it's vine. Oh well, I can't complain too loudly. Two of these will make it to maturity. (I hope!)

The squash plant is doing excellent. Here is a fruit on the main:

21 inches circ. on day 10. I can never remember if that is good...?

This fruit is well positioned, and has a nice long stem. All systems go! There are three such fruits currently on the 576 squash.

Only one fruit looks like a "keeper" on the 691. But this will be a good opportunity to experiment with only one fruit on a good plant. It should do well.

The 867 Mombert is still behind, and the early fruits have aborted. But it did put out a six lobe female a few days ago, and of course I "self-ed it". Looking for an orange Halloween pumpkin here.

July 20

21 inches on day 10 is not good. I've been so enamored with my nice plants this year, I've forgotten that I'm trying to grow fruit, not salad! Well, anyway, I have incredible, awesome, beautiful plants, but the fruits on them are really lacking. I went back to last year, and find that I'm WAY behind, not just in time, but in pace as well.

WHAT IS THE MATTER? I considered this a "make-or-break" year. If I can't go over 500 pounds after 5 years of trying.......? Hmm... maybe my time would be better wasted somewhere else? Ah, no, I won't quit, but...???

July 21

Last night in a desperate attempt to get something going, I sprayed all the plants with a high-phosphorus fertilizer. I think the plants just haven't switched over to fruit growth mode yet. Well, it's late but if I can get them to start thinking fruit first, I have something to work with.

Over a week ago I declared the pollination season to be done. Now this morning I pollinated two more on the 1005. One of these is on the main (where there is no other fruit) at least 17 feet out! Only in my dreams have I had a fruit set out this far. HEY! It's only two weeks late. If we have an awesome September... but unfortunately we usually freeze in the first half of September.

July 23

Two nights ago, in addition to the high phosphorus fert, I clipped the end of every vine I could find except for the mains. This morning I noticed a slight bit of fruit growth. Maybe it's working. Maybe you can influence a plant to quit growing leaves and start producing fruit. Maybe I'm loosing my mind...

Here is a run-down on what is there now: On the 1005 I have about four candidates, and the fruit on the main is recently pollinated way out, perhaps 17 feet. Genetically, the only problem with this 1005 is that the stems are short and very tight with the vine. Other than that, the plant is incredible.

On the 576 squash, there are two decent fruit (no world beaters anywhere in the patch, by the way) and another one or two that are also long shots...

The 691... so much potential, but the main vine fruit pollinated back on July 8 quit growing at volleyball size. There was another further out on the main, so I culled the first. That one on the main is the only hope for the 691. It's also still very small.

The 867 , Mr. Big Orange, has nothing going that I can point at and say "look! it's growing!". I pollinated a nice 6-lober on July 16, and it's still smaller than a baseball.

The Berard plant has been removed from the patch. "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you, and goodnight."

July 27

Things are progressing, slowly but surely here. Will I have my best August ever? Or will things stay the same? Only time will tell.

Most of the fruits on the 1005 look like this.

Good luck?

July 29

Every once in a while something hits you like a "revelation". In this case the revelation came from a conversation on It is thought by many that much fruit growth comes at night, and, low overnight temperatures will slow/stop fruit growth. Well, around here we typically get very cool at night. I really should be covering my pumpkins! In fact I'm already plotting to use both a warm (wool) blanket and also a tarp over the selected fruits.

This is something that has always been bouncing around in the back of my mind, but I'd never really put it all together. It's nice to dream that there can actually be a "silver bullet", some one thing that is missing from the equation, that when factored in makes all the difference. Maybe... maybe!


Cliff Warren