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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Figured I would get the party started. Not super warm about 45 and sunny, but I got out in the patch and did some weeding. And I mean weeding giant weeds. Once my season was over in July, I let the patch go. Last year's horse manure compost that I brought in came chock full of weed seeds.

I know I can till it under, but I did not want the large stems and branches to rob nitrogen from my soil as it decomposed. I finished about half of the patch today and will do the rest tomorrow. The goal is clear the patch of the big stuff this weekend. Next weekend, I will mow and bag the smaller stuff.

I know it seems early, but February will be over in the blink of eye. I look forward to seeing which of the regulars are growing pumpkins again this year and the new people who are willing to give it a go. :)

Weeds I took out today

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Kedestra you made my day. It is not often that I am accused of being an inspiration. WK, I am glad to see you back and in good spirits. I know that keeping your outdoor garden going is a challenge. I thought there would be crickets when I posted, guess I was wrong.

Every year I seem to focus on a new area to up my game. This year it will be getting my soil ready to to do battle. I have never had my soil tested for disease, but I will this spring. I do not have the luxury of rotating patches and have used the same dirt off and on for a decade. I just have a sneaky suspicion that my July troubles the last couple of years are based on soil diseases that take off in warm weather like fusarium, pythium... etc.

Anyway the game plan now, is to get the soil ready in terms of nutrients, insecticide and fungicide by mid March. Let things settle in a little and test for soil disease and nutrients in mid April. At least I have a plan, not that the garden spirits respect that plan.....lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
My money is always on the squirrels, around here, lol...sigh. 😕
Our squirrels love to get into pretty much everything...chipmunks, raccoons, and bunnies, too. They are all adorable, but they drive me crazy, too!
Didn't you have a picture of a squirrel chomping on a your front porch pumpkin one year? It was a cute photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I plan to plant a few seeds this year, I took last year off thinking I needed to get the property ready to sell. Given the economy, ill be keeping my house for a bit longer so...why not plant again?
Just maybe ease up on that Iowa Guy master plan to rule the world. Three or four regular plants is plenty if you don't want a part time job. I remember that year you planted like 20 plants and tried to start a haunted hayride or something similar. Enjoy the ride. For me it will probably end early again, but off season dreams are just so alluring. lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 · (Edited)
Just two plants for me this year. I plan on doing a soil test in a week or two for disease. If my season gets cut short because of disease, then I will just lay plastic down to solarize the patch for next year. Then if next year does not work out.....love to say that I will throw in the towel, but ........lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
When is the right time to plant pumpkins if you want a patch in your yard on Halloween?

We have a planting bed about the size of an in-ground pool and have talked about planting pumpkins for a patch in October. Is now the right time to get seedlings going? (EDIT: We are in NC)
Too early. Count on about 90 days from the date you sow your seeds for typical field pumpkins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I mentioned in my first post that February goes by quick. Hard to believe that it will over so soon. My patch is starting to look like patch. I cleaned up some clutter around the patch. Also, I mowed it down and put my mower on a low setting to help vacuum stuff up. It is kind of embarrassing to have to mow your patch. lol

But it is what it is. My soil has really come a long way over the years. It has a fluffy bounce to it instead of the clay based hard pan that I started with years ago. I had intended to put out some early fertilizers just to kind of get the party started. But today took longer than I expected. I want to get that soil disease test done before April. I need to figure out what my chances are for a good season.

Looking better:

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Rain barrels are a victimless crime or as I like to think its a worse crime to waste rain water. Besides, it's better to hold back the water & let it percolate slowly into the soil.
Who in the world is driving by houses checking on their rain barrel usage? OMG.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Learned something new today. Thanks Kdestra!

Okay, going to that website made the light bulb go off. I thought we were talking about the 40-50 gallon barrel that people put at the end of a downspout. Geez, the smallest tank that pioneer sells is 10,000 gallons and the largest is 100,000 gallons.

I can see where those kind of set-ups could put a dent in the local water supply if a lot of people put in 50,000 gallon collection tanks. I had no idea that water collection had become so ......can't think of the word......expansive?

Live and learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Just got back in on Sunday from a trip to Peppa Pig/Legoland theme park in Orlando. A most excellent trip and the weather was a balmy 88 everyday. Year round hot weather still seems odd to me. The big pumpkin plan this week is to take soil samples for the disease test. When I told the laboratory tech about my July problems, he seemed to think that I will find that my soil will test high for pythium. It will be interesting to see what I am up against.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 · (Edited)
Well, not a bad day in the patch. I did my soil sample. I am so proud of my dirt. It is not easy to get dirt to look like the dirt in my pic given my heavy clay yard. The first pic is of my soil gathering probe. I get that there are literally hundreds of way to collect soil samples for free, but I do love a good tool. I will send out the soil tomorrow and see what they say about the disease level .

Also, I took down two sides of my wood garden frame. Part of it had kind of fallen over, I feel like it provided cover for field mice and maybe other pests. I am going to take down the rest next weekend. After I till, I might put up another barrier or just let the plastic sheeting around my garden be the only retention material.



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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Nice and disease ridden dirt. Attached is my copy of the disease soil report. On the bright side, it feels good to know that my setbacks over the last couple of years have more to do with the soil than grower error. Some of those soil diseases have a strong resistance to most fungicides. Tempted to divide my patch in half.

Let one half take the year off. Plus, plant some mustard this spring, followed up with solariztion in July/August, and then mustard in the fall. Mustard is a natural soil fumigant which is actually really effective. Then on the other side, just battle it out with soil fungicides. I cannot afford the good stuff, not that anyone can other than farms. The good stuff like Miravis is sold in two gallon jugs at around $1200. But I can use Heritage and similar "strobulins" which the lab company recommended to give me a fighting chance which will run me closer to $100 per bottle.

So much to ponder.....


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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Got the results for my soil tests today. I'm in Idaho. Still learning how to interpret these, so if anyone's familiar with these, any advice is appreciated. :D The first one (2608) is my in-ground bed of native soil, second test (2609) is my garden boxes that was filled with a soil mix.
Not sure what you are in growing in your garden plot, but the ph is high for pumpkins. I would be concerned about the salt. I am surprised that your salt is so high. Salt generally leaches out. Makes me wonder if you garden is in a low spot or whether you are using well water in your patch. Nitrogen is always low after winter. Easy to add back in. The high calcium is good for pumpkins.

Harry is the agronomist (fancy word for soil scientist) for Western. Just email him with specific questions: [email protected]. He is a good guy. I always limit my emails to just one a season unless he asks a question in return.
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 · (Edited)
Looking back, I wonder if it's because I used a fish/seaweed liquid fertilizer last year. We're on city water and the soil drains well so maybe I'll try irrigating it a bunch to help it leach out. We didn't get a whole lot of snow in my area this year.
It would not be the fish/seaweed. Every competitive grower uses one or both because of all the micronutrients they contain. I will not use fish again because I believe that it had a hand in my field mice problem last year. Most growers shoot for a ph of 6.8 for those that monitor such things.

It would be interesting to see what Harry has to say about the salt. Salt is one of those things that you almost never have to worry about or if there is a problem it is on the low side. To put it in perspective my salt was 14 ppm, where yours was 178 ppm. On the bright side, high is only anything over 150 so it should be easy to adjust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Harry's response was "Your salts are not high, only 0.11." :unsure:
Good news. Somethings that are high are no big deal and others are. I get confused with the ppm- parts per million. So I am not sure what your 0.11 correlates to, but trust in Harry. Harry helped me through a pumpkin spotting disease a few years ago, and he gave me insight on how to handle my pitiful soil disease report his year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 · (Edited)
"They" say to start them indoors 3 weeks before the predicted last frost, according to the farmers almanac thats May 2nd.The food says 2-3 cups per 100sq ft, so in a planter I measured that down to a pinch (is that right?).
I would agree with "they." I would mention that if you are going to shoot for a full three weeks after they have emerged then I would suggest moving them to a two gallon pot. My last frost date is about April 23rd. I started mine on the 9th and will post about it later. It takes about 6 days to break dirt for me when I direct sow instead of using the baggie method.

So I am figuring, they will pop up around the 15th and a couple days later I will put them in two gallon pots. So expect them to be outside around the 6th of May. I have tried to plant earlier and even if I set-up temperature controlled enclosures you still need full sun to kick them into high gear.

And a pinch is all that it takes if you are using small starter peat pots and maybe a tablespoon or two in a one gallon pot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #82 ·
Okay, now that my seeds are all up. I will post about my simple process. I soak the seeds for an hour in warm water. If I have different types of seeds I mark them with a sharpie to tell them apart. Before I put the seeds in, I lightly file the sides of the seed and the top until the seed loses its orange edge and looks white. Never file the tip. I pour a capful of hydrogen peroxide over the seed to kill any fungus that may reside on the shell. I pour the capful over the bowl of warm water. So in this case I had about 7 capfuls in the water.

I use seed starting soil. I soak the seed starting soil with warm water in a bucket. I squeeze the water out and fill the peat pots with soil. Then I place the seeds in tip down but I do not put the seed way down. Maybe just 3/8 of an inch or less of soil on top. The grow mat is set for 88 degrees. The grow lights are relatively inexpensive LED lights. My first seed popped after four days and all of them had popped by day 5. I was 7 for 7.

I realize that there are less expensive ways, but this system works for me. I used to just put seeds in a ziplock with a wet paper towel on top of my cable box. That system worked well for several years, but then somewhere along the line, I lost my touch.

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