Welcome to our 2022 growing diary. So far this year everything is far behind last year’s start to the season. We have not been able to get into our patch yet, because it is too wet. Last weekend it was very close to being dry enough. We were able to apply a layer of manure. It was too wet last fall to do this so we had to do it now. Of course the rain came the next day.
Today we got several trailer loads of coco coir from our neighbour. He removes the used growing medium from a local cannabis producer. It is stockpiled and allowed to break down. The picture below shows part of the large pile. The fresh stuff is on the right and the decomposed stuff is on the left.
It works very well to loosen up our clay soil.
The picture below shows our young watermelon seedlings along with some bushel gourd seedlings. Hopefully, in the next few days we will be grafting the watermelon to the bushel gourd. This will be 2 weeks later than last year. We had a lot of trouble this year getting the BG to germinate. That set us back a little.
We plan to grow 2 pumpkins and 1 squash this year. We started these plants a bit later as well. We started the germination process on the plants below last Saturday (April 23). So they are just nicely out of the soil. We have a couple of our 1747.5 as back up plants. For pumpkin we are going with the same seeds as last year. The 2118 Barron has always given us a heavy pumpkin, is very heat tolerant and is a very aggressive plant. Also going with the 2200 est Geddes again. This was also a very aggressive plant with a lot of potential (we think). The squash we are going with is Harley Sproule’s 1507.5. Thanks for the seeds Harley. It’s been a long time since we grew a squash.
This next picture is a look at our cabbage plants. We started these mid-February. They are from our own seed that we harvested last fall.
Finally, we would like to encourage all the GVGO members out there to start a diary this year. We can all learn from each other.
The weigh-offs are over for us this year. Now comes the dreaded garden cleanup. When the soil conditions are right I like to use the tractor to removed the vines. I use the manure bucket and let the tines pull the vines out like a giant rake.
They are all shoved to one end of the garden. It even works to pull out most of the weeds.
Here is the garden after the vines are all shoved to the far end
We removed 5 trailer loads for disposal
Next we applied 10 spreader loads of manure
Ploughed it in
We were able to get the garden seeded down with fall rye right before the rains started. We expanded the patch for next year because things were kind of tight for us this year. We are up to about 13000 ft² for next year.
We had a bit of a surprise when we weighed our 2118 Barron. It went 25% heavy 1402.5 Lbs. That is the 3rd year we have grown this seed and every year it has gone very heavy.
Below is Harley's 1507.5 and it is now the 1035 MacKenzie. It went 15% heavy.
Our cabbage for Sunday weighed 41.5 lbs. Both our cabbages were grown from our seed.
Doug Court had a trailer load of impressive entries.
His watermelon was a new personal best weighing 187.5 lbs.
Jeff had a great weekend! 2nd place on Saturday and the winner for Sunday.
Port Elgin had perfect weather for their weigh-off today. Congratulations to Dave McQuay for his first place pumpkin 1888.5 lbs. and Jeff Warner wasn’t far behind at 1805.5 lbs. John Butler took first place squash weighing in at 1335.5 lbs. John Butler also set a new North American record for sunflower 27 ½ feet tall. Amazing to see.
Our pumpkin was 5th place weighing in at 1271.5. That was close to what it measured.
Managed to get a new personal best for our melon. It weighed 173 lbs. An increase of 3 pounds. It went slightly lighter than it was measuring.
We also got first place with our cabbage, weighing in at 47 lbs.
Got home today and unloaded everything and then loaded up a pumpkin and squash for tomorrow.
The last few days have been very busy for us getting ready for Port Elgin Pumpkinfest. One of the most time consuming things was to get our chair pumpkin set up on a pallet. This year we grew a pumpkin under an oversized chair so that Port Elgin can use it for a public display.
The chair started out level but as the pumpkin grew the chair started to tip forward. So we had be make a large wedge under the pumpkin to level the chair. We also made some metal legs under the chair legs to stabilize everything. The next step was to add a step in front.
We took it to Port Elgin yesterday because we wouldn’t have room today.
We asked Joanne to be the first person to sit in the chair
Loaded up the 2200 Geddes for today
Our watermelon might be our only chance of a personal best this year.
Good Luck everyone!
My next entry for team 7 3 lbs. 14.2oz. or 3.89 lbs.
Another entry for team 7 2lbs. 4.5 oz. or 2.28 lbs.
My next entry for team 7 in the GVGO tomato contest
2 lbs .8oz or 2.05 lbs
This will be my first tomato entry for team 7. The first one is 1.85 lbs. and the next is 2.24 lbs.
Now that September is here things have really started to slow down. Lots of weeds and powdery mildew is spreading.
The 2200 Geddes below is probably the tallest pumpkin we have ever grown.
Our only watermelon plant on the other hand is still very healthy looking with very little weeds.
We can’t get an accurate OTT measurement on the melon because of the sag in the hammock. The circumference is just over 80”. Still seems to be growing but it is slowing down.
The graft still looks good so far. We have been spraying it with hydrogen peroxide and applying garden Sulphur.
I have been planning to build a new pumpkin lifting ring for a while now and have finally started the project this month. Last winter I purchased a machine called a Chinese Shoe Patcher so that I would be able to make my own straps for the lifter. This is basically a manual sewing machine that people use to sew leather and other heavy fabrics. These are very economical machines that can be purchased on Amazon. The only problem is they don’t work right out of the box. You have to disassemble the machine and cleanup/polish the castings with fine sandpaper. After that, apply some lubrication, adjust tension and timing and the machine works very well. They are operated by cranking the wheel on the right. I joined an online group that has a site that is dedicated to the setup and use of these machines. The thread we are using is a heavy duty polyester outdoor thread that is typically used for sails, boat covers, tents etc.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to prove that the machine would be capable of stitching a loop on a strap that would be strong enough. I plan to make the straps out of seatbelt material so I made up a test strap so that I could put it through a pull test. . A loop was stitched on each end.
After looking around the farm for something heavy I decided to attach the test strap to a large Walnut log and test the stitching. We have an electronic load cell scale and I attached it to the bottom of the test strap.
I kept applying upward pressure to the strap and to my surprise the log started to rise off the ground. I checked the digital readout and it was measuring over 1100 lbs. That will be more than enough, especially since we will be using 8 straps on the ring. The test strap showed no signs of any damage so I think the stitching passed the strength test.
Now I have to build the ring. I purchased some hot rolled flat bar and started the project. I could have use the acetylene torch to heat the bar but for a job like this I usually go to my grandfather’s old coal forge. I have many memories of my grandfather using this forge when I was a young lad. He would let me turn the crank on the blower to put air to the fire. I would watch in amazement as he would turn the red hot piece of iron into something useful. It’s funny how the distinctive odors and sounds from the forge bring back so many memories from the past.
Here I am trying to get things to line up.
Here is the ring just before I added the straps. I put the loops on the straps ahead of time to make the stitching easier. I then added the straps to the ring before welding everything solid. It would have been very difficult to stitch the straps while on the ring. I have seen that some lifting rings have their straps attached with buckles and sometimes tied in place, but I wanted them permanently stitched in place.
Here is a look at it after a coat of zesty orange paint.
This is our mid August update. Our 1507.5 Sproule squash (below) has slowed down and is measuring 543 lbs. today.
The 2118 Barron is growing steady but nothing to exciting. Estimating 677 lbs.
The 2200 Geddes is still the leader in our patch but it is slowing down as well. Estimating 935 lbs.
The 255 Mitchell watermelon plant has really filled out. We have a cover over the stump to try and keep it dry.
The plant was so thick we missed seeing the extra melons growing under the canopy. Here is todays culls. Must be at least 50lbs.
The melon measures 74 lbs and is growing close to 3 lbs daily.
One of our cabbages.
One of our field pumpkins. Measuring 27 lbs.
Our 255 Mitchell watermelon has filled out the space it was allotted. We are now trimming the vines to keep it under control. We have the melon on its hammock and under cover.
The stump is pictured below and shows the main vine going to the right and has four finger vines. Our melon is growing on one of the finger vines. You can see the graft union below the finger vines and it looks healthy so far.
The shape of the melon has improved a lot since the last entry.
The 2118 Barron has not picked up the pace yet but is growing steadily. It has averaged 22lbs. per day for the last 8 days.
The plant is fairly large and the vines have all been terminated.
The 2200 Geddes has been the leader in the patch this year. It has averaged 32 lbs. per day for the last 8 days