This month's "Best Success Story" comes from Ron Wallace, giant pumpkin grower extraordinaire. Ron, a country club manager from Rhode Island, shattered the world record on September 28, 2012, with his pumpkin, "The Freak II," that weighed in at 2,009 pounds. Wallace had previously set a world record in 2006 with a pumpkin that weighed 1,502 pounds. We caught up with Ron by phone earlier this month, and he generously shared some of his secrets.
Living in New England I have to deal with sandy/loam soil which lets nutrients quickly leach right out of the root zone. A few years ago I turned to Growth Products for a solution to this problem. I found that Growth Products liquid fertilizers were just what my giant pumpkins needed.
I use an array of Growth Products' solutions, including Triple Ten 10-10-10, but the four that I rely on most are Cal Mag Max, "TKO" Phosphite, Essential® Plus and Companion® Biological Fungicide. During the vining stage of a pumpkin's growth, typically May through early July, I foliar apply Cal Mag Max every 7 days at 4-ounces per 1,000 square feet to keep tissue levels of calcium and magnesium high.
During peak fruit growth stage starting in mid-July, a giant pumpkin can gain up to 50 pounds a day. The potassium demand skyrockets during this growth spurt, so I turn to TKO Phosphite 0-29-26 at 5-ounces per 1,000 sq. ft. along with 3 ounces of Growth Products' 0-0-25 Liquid Potassium per 1,000 sq. ft. every 7 days. This combination helps me stay at "luxury" capacity for potassium.
TKO Phosphite is also my main foliar spray for disease control. I have not had any leaf problems since using TKO, and I have saved quite a bit of money using TKO instead of chemical fungicides.
They are keys to my success, too, since I use them to build up microbial activity in my soil. It is as important - or more important - to feed your soil as to feed your plants. Soil microbial activity creates a natural fertilizer for your plants that can't be beat.
I'm not a farmer, but just a back-yard gardener with a hobby. I start about ten giant pumpkins per year, and I spend 30 to 35 hours a week tending to them in the growing season.
No one had ever grown a 1-ton pumpkin before, and a lot of people didn't think it was achievable. I wasn't even sure myself. But by its dimensions I knew that "The Freak II" was a big one, and when I put it on the trailer and started towing it to the weigh-off, I felt like it was something special.
"The Freak II" wouldn't be edible, but its seeds go for a premium. In fact, I donate pumpkin seeds to local clubs that auction them off for about $200 each. But the pumpkins from my vegetable garden? You bet I use my kitchen knife on them, for a whole lot more than just pumpkin pies. Pumpkin puree is a great thickener for stews, and paella with seafood and pumpkin is fabulous.
Growth Products has been amazed and impressed with the knowledge and skills of its professional customers. Now is your opportunity to let your Success Story be heard! Visit www.growthproducts.com to enter to win $500 in free Growth Products’ merchandise and to have your story featured in our monthly newsletter. In addition, one Grand Prize winner will receive $2,500 in cash!