The worst of the cold seems to be over as of last night, and we’re looking at a long stretch of sunny days in the low 70s. Time to go outside.
All eight of the giant-pumpkin seedlings came up strong and have been growing under fluorescent lights for two weeks. I donated two to a friend who had trouble germinating his seeds. Two more will remain indoors as backup plants and, if unneeded, will be given to my son’s school. That leaves the four best-looking plants to hit the dirt.
Whenever I could in recent days, I took the pots outside to get them used to direct sunlight. This is called “hardening the plants off”. In essence, toughening them up after a cushy life indoors. Here they are last weekend:
The seedlings outgrew the initial peat pots and I transplanted them into larger pots for their remaining week inside. This morning I planted the chosen four in the temporary greenhouse. The ground was warm and dry. I added the following to each planting site:
1. Worm castings
The plants are situated so the first true leaf is growing away from the intended growth of the main vine. When the second true leaf is big enough, its weight will tip the plant forward and the vine will run in that direction. By planting them in the proper direction now, I won’t be caught with the plant growing away from my patch. In the following photo, for example, the first true leaf is seen growing on the left, and the vine will eventually run to the right:
As you can see, I’ve cut a ring of plastic from the tops of the pots and placed them around the plants to protect against cutworms, which look like grubs and squirt neon green goo when you step on them and have killed previous years’ seedlings overnight.
For a first feeding, I mixed the following into a gallon of water:
1. 1/8 cup of Neptune’s fish/seaweed emulsion
2. 2 tsp. Rootshield
3. 2 tsp. of Extreme Blend Powder
For the next few weeks, the plant will be establishing its roots and visible growth may be slow. Once the roots are in and the weather truly warms up, however, the growth can be dramatic. I’ll be taking plenty of photos along the way.
Last year’s 314-lbs. pumpkin was named after its parent plant, King George III. This year, I’ve decided to give the Americans a voice. Only one plant will ultimately survive; I’ll need to cull the weakest three once the patch gets crowded. So pick a plant and (dare I type it) root for your favorite.
Left to right, their names are: Abigail Adams, John Adams, Paul Revere, and Thomas Jefferson.