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Click on a thumbnail picture below to see the full size version. 53 Entries.
Thursday, March 25 View Page
Here we go – 2021 season. Anything could happen. Patch wintered well, covered with maple leaves in the fall – well rotted and ready for tilling. Soil report back – great shape except for pH of 7.3 – gotta knock it down to 6.5. Spread 12 lbs of 90% S 2 days ago before the soaking rain yesterday – might be 6-8 weeks to lower the pH, but at least got it started.
Thursday, March 25 View Page
My reconstructed absolutely leak proof, drip proof irrigation set up. Can’t believe how many patches and fixes it had along the way. 3 hoses run from the pipe, each with its own spigot. Very excited to start over. It slaves of my garden sprinkler, both on timers, running undergrown from the spigot at the back corner of my house. Squandered some of the family fortune on an overly opulent standing water spigot – cool.
Thursday, March 25 View Page
El Cheapo up and ready to go. Left the frame up all winter and so MUCH easier to put the reinforced plastic cover over and stake and tie it down. Bigger tie down effort this year, after 2 prior examples of El Cheapo either blowing away or collapsing with a big wind. They could have alternately sold it on Amazon as a light weight parachute.
Sunday, March 28 View Page
The Teams have been separated from the pile of great stuff I’ve managed to collect by overbidding at several BPA’s auctions, segregated by orange potential (L column) and giant potential, (R column) and order of starting (row) depending on failure of higher row candidates. Since I only have room for 2 vines in my 850sf patch and will invest an amount of time only comprehended by other addicted to this take-no-prisoners sport, I’d better wind up with a good one from each column by Sept. Hard to know when to pot the first 2 seeds. Gotta anticipate they will be the ones delivering the Sept prizes, but more likely will crump along the way, requiring a genius-like set of back up plans. Last year got off to a late start for a variety of reasons, most notable applying for payroll protections loans for my wife’s swim school business (took a full week – and yes, we survived despite all prediction) and my first 2 seeds pots planted 4.10, never sprouting. Started team 2 pair 4/18 – the 1780 Wagner 1797 Checkon – both sprouted but never flourished. Finally got the same pair that grew till season’s-end in 2019 – the 1613 McCracken (produced a 1291.5 lb) and 1501 Wagner (produced a bright orange 500 lb.) potted May 1 and in the ground over cables on May 15 – Month behind!! – still the vines collapsed before end of season with a 705 on the orange Wagner and 750 on the yellow McCracken. Maybe it makes no difference when we start. Plan April 10 – from the L column 1464 Brown (1501 Vanderwielen x self – 2019 HD Winner) From the R column 2015 Ford ’20 (1938 Sperry x 1872 Sipple – 30% heavy) April 17 Orange Column 1263 Montsma ’20 (1872 Sipple x self – HD winner) Big Column 1822 Sipple (2145 McMullen x self) April 24 Orange 1002 Ailts (1211 Aits x self) Looked REALY orange on the Big 1632 Steltz ’17 (1803 Steltz x 2143 McMullen) Plant all survivors side by side in 2 directions and cull when brave enough.
Sunday, March 28 View Page
Reserve team– details available for readers willing to pay large sums because they never managed to get good seeds this year. Includes 2 HD winners and 4 of the 6 non-orange from 1500-1900 lbs. donors
Saturday, April 3 View Page
Patch all set. Tilled in amendments today – the 13 lbs of S I put out 2 weeks ago plus 3 more lbs today, 10 lb of N and 10 lbs of K in the form of 18-2-18 fertilizer to start working on the 55 ls of N and 50 lbs of K expected to consumed this year. And 0.6 lbs of Boron (6 lbs of Borax) Will start seeds soon. Took note of my soil report that pH is too high (7.3 from Midwest labs and 7.5 from Penn State) and that I have waaaaayyy too much organic matter 13% instead of about 5%. May be an issue with fungus again and hold on to too much water. Need beneficial bacterial (in the mail) to break it down to N. Will start seeds soon.
Sunday, April 4 View Page
Couldn’t wait – started a couple of 750s I grew from the 1613 McCracken last year a month ago just to see if it would sprout.( I knew they would, just couldn’t wait, No plans to put it out – maybe just let it grow to the ceiling like last year.
Sunday, April 4 View Page
Goes with April 4 entry
Monday, April 5 View Page
Started the 1st team: 1464 Brown (2019 HD Winner) and the 2015 Ford ’20 (just plain BIG)
Monday, April 5 View Page
Goes with 4/5
Sunday, April 11 View Page
We’re in business! Let the season begin!
Sunday, April 11 View Page
We’re in business! Let the season begin! (photo didn't publish on 1st try - some of the above as well. Anybody else having that issue?
Monday, April 12 View Page
Day 2 for 1464 Brown and 2015 Ford. Started 1263 Montsma and 1822 Sipple today. Threw out my plan of dates to start the series of starts – just couldn’t wait. The heated green house is all set to set out there any time.
Tuesday, April 13 View Page
Goes with 4/12 -it didn't publish yesterday - something's screwed up here
Friday, April 23 View Page
2015 Ford is growing fast (a little droopy today – too close to the heating lamp in the incubator – oops) and the 1464 brown has a funny first set of leaves. 1822 Sipple took FOREVER to sprout - 10 days!. The first of my 1263 Montsma’s seeds never germinated – replanted my second today. Green house test heaters and equipment installed and functional (see next entry for specifics). Will install heating cables in patch today and get ready to move the greenhouse from the test location on the lawn when I'm sure the heaters are doing their job with night temps. Using Elitech GSP-6 temperature logger to follow the daily 24 hours temps in the greenhouse.
Sunday, April 25 View Page
Setting up the 2 planting hills with additional amendments of couple of bags of black topsoil, more kelp meal, (grass seed) starter fertilizer, mycorrhizai and beneficial bacteria (whatever that is – seemed cool, so I bought that too)
Sunday, April 25 View Page
Cables installed
Tuesday, April 27 View Page
El Cheapo erected over the 2 planting hills. Equipment tested and maintains night temps over 60.
Wednesday, April 28 View Page
Outfitted with 3 Amazon Basics 500-Watt Ceramic Personal Heaters ($16@)- (I pay 4.3 cents/KWH – about 7 cents/hr for the night hours) controlled by a Bayite BTC201 Digital Temp Controller $35 (a really neat gadget). BUT – best of all, is the little orange gadget hanging behind the $4 circle thermometer – An Elitech GSP-6 constant temp/humidity monitor ($40).. It gives graphs of 24hr temp and humidity and cycles over 12 weeks. Shows what really happening overnight – cool. Ready to put out the 2015 Ford and 1464 Brown tomorrow – expect mild to warm temps all next week (63-80). Look back at past diaries – I got a late start this year - no excuse.
Wednesday, April 28 View Page
Likely the only 6 footer in Pennsylvania
Thursday, April 29 View Page
We’re in the ground! (in the greenhouse), the 2015 Ford ’20 (just plain BIG) heading due west at the camera and the 1464 Brown (2019 HD Winner) heading east. Avoided 2 major planting catastrophes – not breaking a stem dropping a plant out of the pot upside down by placing it in the planting hole can cutting off the bottom with a box cutter an up the side, carefully removing the plastic pot and triple inspecting the first true leaf to be sure it was planted in the intended direction of growth. Or maybe I’m the only one to ever have made that mistake and had to lift the plant and rotate it so it did start climbing the fence 2” behind itself. My seedlings don’t look nearly as nice as most shown on other diaries – but then, who would show a spindly example such as mine? My back up candidates don’t look much better. May wind up planting the 6 footer.
Friday, April 30 View Page
Temperature chart 4/23-4/30. Daily variation about 50-85deg until warmer weather last few days resulted in greenhouse temps of 65-95 deg, also have reset thermostat from 65 to 70 deg so the night temp didn’t fall so far before the heaters kicked in. So all is well, except the plants look a little cheesy.
Saturday, May 1 View Page
Irrigation on a timer set to go. 50' hose delivers 1 gal/hr per foot. Set for 5 min (4 gallons) every other day. Now just step back and let nature take its course.
Saturday, May 15 View Page
Nature taking its course: the 2015 and 1464 growing at a moderate clip. Big pretty leaves on the 2015 BUT discovered the underside of the 2015 stem has split longitudinally for at least 2” and maybe 3” with a 30 degree twist. Nuts. I’ve heard of flat main stems delivering big fruits, but certainly disappointed. I had it supported with an angular piece of Styrofoam so just this didn’t happen. Planted a back up 2-week old 1632 Steltz ‘17(1803 Steltz x 2143 McMullen) next to it – only 6” of plant – As if there wasn’t enough to make me unhappy for the past year. Gotta be tough to play this sport.
Saturday, May 15 View Page
The split – any advise, or better, words of encouragement from any of you more experienced growers out there?
Saturday, May 15 View Page
Goes with 5/15
Wednesday, May 19 View Page
Already ??!!! A hefty dose of Malathion and Merit for you!
Monday, May 24 View Page
2015 Ford grew 8” yesterday! – had 2 days of 85+ deg and 100 deg in the tent, even with door and all windows open. Now we’re cookin’. No extra fertilizer other than additives at planting and water. Buried the main vine yesterday and added special sauce at each node. (see below)
Monday, May 24 View Page
Special sauce – 1/3 mycorrhizae fungus, 1/3 kelp meal, 1/3 10-10-10 fertilizer, some dry Jack’s all purpose 20-20-20 and some beneficial bacteria.
Thursday, May 27 View Page
Mr. 2015 has reached the limit of the green house – storms coming end of next week, better start erecting the exterior wind breaker for the patch – that’s a BIG job with all the ties going in every whichway. RAIN, RAIN, RAIN yesterday! – 2 thunderstorms – thank GOD – first rain in 2 weeks with some 85 degree low humidity breezy days. Lots more rain coming this week. No more golf for you.
Tuesday, June 1 View Page
2015 has outgrown the green house and into a hoop house. Almost 8 feet with vigorous rapidly growing secondaries. Reluctant to take it down with thunderstorms coming next few days. Exterior fence completed with all posts anchored in 4 directions – make for a risk of strangulation any time entering the patch. My wife just shakes her head.
Saturday, June 5 View Page
Green house down. 1646 to the left, 2015 to the right. So starts the ritual of burying secondaries. Saw a few black and yellow stripped beetles yesterday and some holes in the leaves. Applied a 2nd dose of Malathion and Merit. Found hundreds of dead ones on the leaves this morning, Whew! Just in time.
Saturday, June 5 View Page
goes with 6/5
Sunday, June 6 View Page
First female flower (actually 2, one on main and another on primary secondary. That’s a record for me.
Thursday, June 10 View Page
The 2015 is 13L and 14W. 1st primary secondary is large with a female at its growing tip. Hmmmm. 2 other female flowers that I culled The 1684 – 1 week younger – is 9L and 10W. unfortunately, growing tip burnt out and dead. I think because it was protected so long in the greenhouse and we had 3 bright hotwindy days when I took it down. I put a hoop house shade over the growing tips day 2 because of that, but looks too late for the 1684. Fortunately, the secondaries at the tips are growing fast and should make up for it. Just LOVED the thunderstorms last 2 days. More coming. Busy season.
Monday, June 14 View Page
Took the irrigation hoses out of the shed and set them up in the patch to replace the temp soaker to the initial growing – now set for the season. 7 female flowers on the 2015 – all culled except the one at 13’ on the main – just as insurance, but hoping for plenty of chances further out on the vine – it’s one of the best ever.
Tuesday, June 15 View Page
1st app of fungicide – copper in the morning, Heritage in the evening. Insecticide Spinosyn A + Syponsad D (whatever the heck THAT is) – Captain Jack’s Deadbug – I liked the label - Kills lotsa stuff including borers.
Friday, June 18 View Page
Foliar spray and main stem root drench with Bonine Eight (I guess that’s better than Sevin) and Jack’s 20-20-20
Sunday, June 20 View Page
2015 is 15L x 17W with a pollinated and growing kin at 13’ (just for fun, will cull), and a female ready to open at 15’. There’s room for another 8’ in the patch so will pollinate as they show and try for the furthest one. Had to terminate the first secondaries on both sides, reaching the limit of the fence with walking room. Great. The 1646 is a week behind. Both have a LOAD of female buds at the ends of their secondaries. Have you newbies recognized that you can cut the both budding tertiary and tendril with 1 snip? they always emerge together – do that every morning and you won’t have to lug through the patch when tertiaries show their ominous tips above the mature vine in July. Just sayiin’.
Tuesday, June 22 View Page
A candidate! At 16’ on the 2015 main. The one pollinated at 13’ is growing nicely, the unopened female at 15’ about 3 days out, and now this lady. High hopes for more over the 5’ remaining feet available.
Tuesday, June 22 View Page
Pollinated 2 beeeautiful females on the 1684 from the 2015 this morning. the 2015 will be self pollinated. nice rain yesterday and today. Both vines growing like crazy! Never terminated secondaries for lack of room so early in the season.
Friday, July 2 View Page
Culled the 8 pounder at 10’ on the 2015, leaving a growing kin (6/24) at 13 ‘, a newbee (6/29) at 17’ and a brand new female appearing this morning after the downpours yesterday at 21’. If we get that 21-footer, gotta move back the fence again. Oh, what we go through for 30 seconds on the scale and the 2 ½ min of notoriety that follows, followed by a week of trying to get rid of the thing before it rots. 5 successful pollinations on the 1646, will try for 6 by the end of the season to go outside my wife’s swim school. Kids just LOVE giant pumpkins! Had 3-700+ pounders there last year.
Monday, July 5 View Page
Patch in fine shape, the 1684 is heading east (in the back of photo) with 5 set kins on secondaries pollinated from the 2015 – (growing main tip burned off during heat wave 2 weeks ago) and the 2015 coming to us heading west, with 2 set self-pollinated on main at 13 and 17’ and the main candidate female at 21 feet – should open in 2-3 days. The 2015 has had monster female inners – and big, beautiful pedals. The 1684 not so much. The set kins on the 1684 looking at bit irregular – longish with prominent indented longitudinal ribs. Maybe because they're all crossed with the 2015 and their DNA doesn’t talk the same language. Will self-pollinate all future 1684 females. Burying secondaries at feverish pace – astounding how much they grow in 48 hours – a matter of feet!
Tuesday, July 6 View Page
Today Heritage, Dacronil Merit
Saturday, July 10 View Page
Well, the manufacturing facilities are complete, both reaching the limits of the fencing. In fact had to move the fence in front of the 2015 another 4 ft out to accommodate more growth – now 27 ft with a female just showing there yesterday – wonderful! The 1684 is about 18’ with 6 kins already perkin’ along. 1st secondary of the 2015 has a 10 pounder – don’t know what I’m gonna do with that. Here we go – 1500 lbs on Oct 2.
Friday, July 23 View Page
First tomato of the summer – 2 lb 3 oz . got lotsa unique seed if anybody interested.
Sunday, July 25 View Page
This little stinker did all of this?!!. Filled the crater with captan, Sevin and thiazidine The 2015 keeps aborting new starts. A near 30- foot vine and only 3 potential keepers on secondaries – the biggest 57” circ, on the first secondary. A 4 pounder at 24’ secondary. A newbee female at the tip – even if it takes, runnin’ out of time to be a really big one. I think it’s yellow vine virus. The 1684 has 4 nice ones and a bunch of small growing candidates. Hope to finish the season with 5 or six bright orange around 750 for show at my wife’s swim school. Why didn’t somebody tell me it would be like this?
Tuesday, August 3 View Page
Things aren’t going so great. The 2015 keeps aborting the recently pollinated and anything that gets to 40-50lbs turns to mush. The vine is enormous – a great factory manufacturing recalls. Still, it keeps putting out female flowers on healthy appearing sides – suckering me not to rip it out. Lost several on the 1464 – got a couple on each. Alas.
Tuesday, August 3 View Page
Goes with 7/23
Thursday, August 12 View Page
Ready to bail on the Ford 2015. The vine is enormous - 34' long and still growing but literally every set turned to mush eventually – whether 4 DAP or at 80 lbs. Still a few small ones growing. Applied the heavy hand and cut every not-healthy appearing leaf, chunk of vine – about 25% of the vine. The back half (1646 orange) of the patch is kinda OK – growing 4 between 40 and 100 lbs – orange. I don’t know what happened this year – 1291 lbs a few years ago on a smaller vine than we have here. I think I got yellow vine virus early in the season.
Sunday, August 15 View Page
Jack’s 10-30-20 blossom bloom; Heritage, Merit, Sevin, Daconil – to the 1464 only; 5 kins 20 to 110 lbs and all growing - at least that's something. Likely nothing worth dragging to a scale this year. – decided to deep 6 the 2015Ford– no kin anywhere. Nuts.
Thursday, August 19 View Page
Ford 2015: 4/6/2021 – 8/19/21 RIP at age 183 days – estimated wasted work – 100 hours. Gotta depend on the 4 slow growers on the 1646 – so far, they seem healthy – biggest only about 125 lbs. Did better than this my first year in the business 8 years ago.
Saturday, August 21 View Page
All the effort is on the 1464 – CalVantage, Earthworks Protein Plus, Malathion, and Jack’s 7-15-30 “Finishing” fertilizer today. Supposed to use it in Sept for those last few weeks before weigh-off, but need every help I can get to at least try for a 500 pounder- heck ANYBODY can grow a 500 pounders – except me, it appears, this year. Jack tells me this stuff really works. It did seem to have a visible and measurable effect last year.


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