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Cliff's Grower Log -- September 2005

August 31st with the fruit on the 981 Zunino...

September 1

Hard to believe today is harvest day for the fruit above. It's improved recently, along with our weather, and is still adding size. I can only wonder what it might look like without the damage on the top. Even though it's still growing, I'm going to cut it from the vine later today and cart it up to Blackfoot. This is still a good choice for the fair. The locals will enjoy the nice orange color.

If you look closely, yes, my shirt says, "Rex Kwon Do". I bit of Idaho culture for ya'. (Reference: "Napoleon Dynamite") Believe it or not, this is an actual place, there is a "Rex Kwon Do" on Main St. in Preston.

No confirmation to the rumor that I wore moon-boots in high school...

September 2

I kinda feel like I'm getting deja-vu all over again, but...

Annual display at the Eastern Idaho State Fair

Here we are. Brian won it with the 451 on the left side. My 412 weighed about 60 pounds light. In the back is Blake Christensen's 387, and also my tiny squash at 260. That one stopped growing about a month ago. But as the only contestant, I win 20 bucks and retain my title as the Squash King of Idaho. I should mention that Blake's squash split about a week ago... he should have won.

Brian and I are scratching our heads at our confusing soil reports and wondering what to try next. It seems that our only hope is that global warming will contribute to warmer overnight temperatures in Idaho.

September 8

My annual list of things to do differently next year:

  • 1. Drop down to only 3 or possibly 4 plants. I simply cannot take care of six.
  • 2. Continue with organic matter. Amend the entire patch with peat moss in the spring. Dump lots of manure on the patch, but only in the fall.
  • 3. Use several specialty products to give the plant anything it may lack from my difficult soil, including chelated calcium, and micronutrients zinc and iron. Purchase a compost tea making system, and use it properly.
  • 4. Be more aggressive in pruning and making the vines go where I want them to go. I did well in early season pruning, but as time wore on, a few missed vines can turn the plant into a jungle.
  • 5. Get some well composted material to use in burying vines. Spend some time to bury the vines well, not just shovel some dirt over them. This is were the plant is going to develop more roots and continue to feed the fruit. Care must be taken to do this well.
  • 6. Begin with a daconil spraying program in late July. I must do this. Powdery mildew is rampant in my garden.

    The Beauchemin is doing well! I still have an outside shot at 600 with that one. The Tanner is still around, a little small but very solid, and still growing. Pictures will be coming soon.

    September 12

    Two pumpkins remain in the patch. One is the Tanner. It's slow, measuring in the mid-400s, but I think it will go heavy. The other is the Beauchemin. This one is UGLY!

    "Mahana you ugly!"

    Well, as you can see, I'm not going to win a beauty contest with this one. By circumference it measures above 650, but in OTT it's about 540. I think it will go heavy. It's got that "white-blob dense" factor going for it. If it doesn't split, I'll have a personal best and finally reach the 500 level. Wow.

    Splitting is a possibility, because of the deep ribs and also the "dill ring". But, it ain't growing much. It's currently at 298.5 OTT inches. I think I can find another 1.5 inches before the weighoff and have my first 300 inch pumpkin.

    September 14

    Mr. Ugly split. Throwing out the white (orange) flag:

    I still might not get to an official 500

    I cut it from the vine, and filled the hole with silicone caulk. Then I thought, "Why did I cut it from the vine??!" And then I was reassured when I considered that it would probably split in another 20 places if I hadn't cut it.

    Final measurement was 300 OTT inches. If it hasn't gone down in the next 10 days, I'll try to take it to Rexburg for an official weight.

    546 Warren 05 EST

    My only remaining pumpkin is on the Tanner. It measures 282 OTT.

    September 23

    It's hard to believe that we haven't had a frost yet. This has got to be the longest into September that I can remember, without any frost. We're predicted to get a good one this weekend, however.

    The fruit on the Tanner hasn't grown at all in the last week. So tomorrow is the final day, the weighoff up at Brian's place in Rexburg. Tune in Monday to see if I get a personal best.

    September 26

    Late Friday I discovered what I had suspected, the 412 was rotting on my porch. I cut it open, and the stench was terrible. This thing was completely rotting away from the inside out. In some places the walls were down to 1-inch thick. Typically, once it's weighed and on display, my kids, neighborhood kids, stray cats, whatever... they come and sit on it, slide down it, jump up and down on it... LOL, we're pretty lucky that it didn't collapse while a kid was on it!

    I now understand why it slowed down in early August, and why it weighed 70 pounds light to the charts. I think that something got inside it from the wounds on top, slowly working it's way through the flesh and then corrupting the fruit from the inside. I managed to save 47 seeds from it.

    The good news is that the 981 Zunino seed is even better than I thought. This seed is first on my list for next year.

    Saturday was Brian's Pumpkin Picking Party in Rexburg. Brian and his family do a great service in hosting this weighoff each year.

    I took my split pumpkin from the 681 Beauchemin (on the right) and my remaining competition fruit from the 891 Tanner (left).

    The 681 weighed in a 597 pounds! WHY DID I CUT IT 10 DAYS EARLIER? It could have gone over 600 if I hadn't cut it. For a while we thought it could be the largest fruit grown in Idaho this year, until we learned of a grower up in Bonner's Ferry (up in the northern Idaho panhandle between Washington and Montanta) who had three in the 600 to 800 pound range. Still, I'm very happy with it.

    For my official entry, the 891 Tanner fruit weighed in at 494.5 pounds, good for second place.

    The 494.5 Warren 05 was crossed with the 981 Zunino. I'm already thinking of these seeds... First of all, the 891 was the 846 Calai selfed three times. I think that is one or two too many. It was a little slow. The 891, as a plant, was similar to the 981 in many respects, strong big vines, big tall leaves. It's difficult to explain, but the two plants were similar. Now that I have this cross, I'm thinking of trying out this "F1 hybrid" next year.

    September 28

    I cut up the 597 yesterday. Wow, nice thick walls. It went heavy and now I see why. Got lots of good looking seeds. I'll probably distribute them locally to friends that are always asking for seeds, but if anyone wants some, just send me an email. The pollinator on the 597, and the 494.5, was the 981 Zunino. I'm very impressed with that 981 as well, so it could be an interesting cross for someone wanting to experiment, or for new growers.

    I am actually very excited at the end of this season. I can't wait to start again!

    Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a picture of the "cutting" of the 597. Cheers!


    Cliff Warren