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Cliff's Grower Log -- Dreamin'... 2005





January 6

It is with great anticipation that I present my 2005 strategic plan!

Subject to change... as always. There are six plants (oh, I'm dreamin' now!) with three categories of two plants each. Four of the seeds are selfed, and one other is nearly so. This will be a year for crosses: (last update: 12-Jan-05)

Squash section

1) 681 Beauchemin 04 (895 Hester X 854 Reinsborough)
Why: Nice shape and squash color. 12% heavy. Good cross for a squash.

2) 874.5 Dieffenbaugher 04 (312 Welty X Self)
Why: Big and very green, selfed and ready to cross. I am the state record holder for squash, and want to keep it! ;-)

Section backup: 312 Welty

Color Section

3) 981 Zunino 04 (1230 Daletas X 1048 Companion)
Why: Very interesting cross of good color seeds.

4) 891 Tanner 04 (753 Pukos X Self)
Why: 846 Calai selfed twice, this year's ultimate self'ed seed. Color, potential for good crosses.

Section backup: Another 891 seed, 497.5 Reiss 04 (801.5 Stelts X Self)

898 Section

5) 753 Pappas 03 (898 Knauss X Self)
Why: 898 Knauss genetics.

6) 500 Beauchemin 04 (1074 Beauchemin X 898 Knauss)
Why: 3/4 of the seed has 898 Knauss genetics.

Section backup: 666 Hester 04 or 1058.8 Papez 04

As you can see, this sets up a number of cross opportunities within each category. As I think about it, there is also a good cross opportunity between the Tanner and either 898 Knauss seed.

Come back and see how many times I change my mind.

January 31

Every year at this time I look out and look back, and realize that I've learned so much more about this hobby than I thought possible. I think, with some good luck and good weather I can really start to accomplish some things with this endeavor. Of course, I thought that two years ago. I guess we'll see.

Doing this online journal has been very helpful... to me. The rest of you must be bored-silly to hang out here, but I appreciate your interest. This year one of the biggest challenges will be to "be home" enough to accomplish what I need to do. Right now I'm not sure how much I'll be home in June. When is retirement? At least 25 years? Hmmm...

February 21

Today is the first hint of spring. Temperatures in the high-40's and sunny. I can't wait. Finally we can start to melt this snow.

Nothing has changed on my seed plans, except... I had someone write and ask for the 468 seed. I explained my trouble this past winter in getting those seeds to germinate. Then I decided to give it one more try. The only difference between this time and the tests before is that I used the “drop test” to select my seeds. This worked like a charm! Taking a handful of 12-15 seeds, I was able to use the drop test to eliminate 3, which turned out to be completely empty! I then selected the best 4 of the remaining seeds and use them in the germination test. All four came up!

I'm not thrilled with the general health of the seed leaves. Each of the little plants has little parts of the seed leaf that don't really “come to life” like they should. But each seedling is healthy enough to become a large healthy plant.

Since I had eliminated the 468 from consideration, I now have my heart set on the six seeds above. But I think I will start some 468 seeds as backups.

February 25

Well, I should not have even doubted the “seed leaves”. These seedlings are strong! The seed leaves are green and full. In fact, even though I've had these “test cases” under grow lights, they want to grow too fast, too tall. I had a plant like this before, and it snapped when it got outside in the wind. Well, these would probably be fine if not in the hands of a total klutz. I just find it interesting that they seem to show the same aggressive nature as the 1005. Now, this is the first real challenge to my “list”. There is no way I can go with more than 6 plants. In fact, I'm not sure I can handle six. But if the 468 is good to go, then I need to include it somewhere.

March 1

The “Drop Test”:

Earlier this winter I was told about the "drop test". This really works, and should be used by every grower. Simply take your seeds and drop them onto a hard surface. A wood table works best.

Very quickly you will become accustomed to the tone or note that each seed gives. Generally, good full seeds will give a very muted sound, almost a "thud" sort of sound. Empty seeds become very easy to detect, they give a very light "tinny" sort of sound. Then you will also find some seeds "in between".

I separate the seeds into three groups based on this test. Almost without exception, I can accurately categorize the seeds into "full", "half-full", and "empty" categories. (I've verified this by opening the seeds.) This was done on my 468 seed stock, which seems to be about 30% empty. After doing the drop test on a handful of seeds and selecting the best, germination tests are 100%!

March 11

The weather here is glorious and beautiful. But our big problem is, we've had drought the last five years, and this year is no better. Unless we get some water in those hills, we may be out of water by late-August.

March 15

My garlic is up! I am a first-time garlic grower. It comes up just like any other flowering bulb, like tulips. Here is one of them, with morning frost on the emerging stem:

March 29

I recently heard of a heart surgeon who says that, after having done many heart transplant surgeries, he finds that people tend to develop traits that the heart donor had. That is, at least on conceptual level, we associate some things with the heart, feelings, things we like to do, etc. So for example, if a heart donor liked to fish, sometimes the heart recipient develops a desire to fish where he didn't have that before. Now that is really spectacular, and maybe we will hear more research into this area in the coming years.

Then on the other hand we have inheritance. We know that we can inherit things like eye or hair color, and other physical characteristics like that. Could we also inherit things we typically associate with the heart? Of course, we as giant pumpkin growers have a deeper understanding of inheritance than most. Many times our seeds inherit characteristics of their parents, although sometimes we see unexplainable results.

This is all leading up to my recent re-reading of the life story of one of my great-grandfathers. In it, I find a LOT of similarities, and I guess you could say they are along the "heart" lines of things...

Among the half-dozen or so similarities that I see in that short life sketch, I note that he liked to garden. But not just garden... he was greatly interested in growing the largest tomato in the area. He liked to share the produce. Rather than write all the text here, suffice it to say that he enjoyed gardening, and like to "show off a bit". To "make it special". One year, one of his children writes, "One year dad had grown the largest pumpkins I had ever seen. My older brother somehow lifted it up to the top of the house, and placed it over the chimney. It could be seen from a great distance, as far away as the railroad tracks."

I think I'm beginning to understand myself, reading these pages.

Well, guess what! It's almost time to start the "April" page!

PumpkinZone!

Cliff Warren