Pumpkin Progress III

September 24th, 2012 by Justin 68 comments »

We harvested all of the pumpkins, gourds, and squash about a month ago. I just haven’t bothered posting.

We got about 7 tons of fruit out of there. Soo… pretty much a total failure. For the acreage we planted I should have harvested 60-75 tons.

The good news is I think I know exactly what went wrong.

About the time of my last post we were seeing some seriously yellow leaves in the field. I took this to mean a lack of nitrogen. My farming mentor, who does zucchini, wasn’t so sure but he figured it wouldn’t hurt to push out 60lbs of fertilizer to the 4-ish acres of garden area. The fertilizer we’re using is a 5-10-27 so very light on nitrogen, but add enough and that should stop the yellowing, right?

Well, it didn’t. Actually I think I burned the roots of every small vine out there. I saw this because of what happened to the cucumbers. I had about 120 out there, and I know how they grow. Shortly after the fertilizer push they started producing fruit the size of a man’s forearm and within a week the vines started to brown. I done killed ‘em.

And the smaller pumpkin and gourd vines did about the same thing. The only saving grace was that the small vine stuff, generally, had early maturity dates so the fruit was already set.

Upon further research the yellowing was because squash bugs were in very high numbers. From what I gather you can tolerate 1.0 – 1.5 bugs per plant. Beyond that they’re a problem. Well, if you go out in the field right now you’ll find about 8 bugs on a single pumpkin. Let alone the ones crawling over the plant debris. I feel a little stupid there because I saw the eggs early on, but didn’t know what they were, and an employee that was weeding the things actually saved one for me to look at after noticing they were in high numbers and plants with them had turned brown… but I didn’t follow up on it.

So, now I know I need to keep a pyretheroid type insecticide on hand and need a way to spray it. I’ll probably go with bifenthrin because we already use that in the greenhouse and are familiar with it.

The final problem we had was small fruit. I blame this on planting up to 5 seeds per hole when we were told by the seed company to stick to 1 or 2. My boss made that call, I told him what would happen, and it did happen. Related to that we’re going to space out bigger fruiting pumpkins more than we did this year.

Pumpkin Progress II

August 14th, 2012 by Justin No comments »

I’m not sure which variety this is. It’s just a random picture I snapped while walking through the field looking for irrigation leaks. My guess would be a Captain Jack as it’s a variety that should get between 35-60 lbs.

I’ve got all sorts of pie pumpkins that are a nice orange color already. Plenty more of the larger stuff is big, but still green.

It looks like this is going to work.

Pumpkin Progress

July 5th, 2012 by Justin 4 comments »

Click to enlarge

Well, they’re growing. Guess I’m doing something right.

Smart Phones and Farming

June 21st, 2012 by Justin No comments »

I really wish Frank W. James still had his blog online so I could link to the comments. He said something probably 9 months ago about smart phones not working with his fingers. I didn’t get it. I worked in a greenhouse, our hands get dirty, but the phones still worked if you brushed off the soil and water.

And then I started dirt farming. Yep, he’s right. Actual dirt, unlike potting soil actually gets dry. Stick your paws in actual dirt all day and it’ll embed into your fingers. When it dries out your fingers are no longer human. Touch screens stop responding to them. One solution is to lick your dirty finger until it’s actually moist again, which isn’t as disgusting as it sounds. It’s just dirt.

Another option is to use a stylus that costs just a few bucks for 3 of them but then you feel like you’re back in the late 90′s using a stylus to play with your Palm Pilot. It does work though.

But, I can now say I understand his frustration. He was right and I had no idea just what he was dealing with.

Is This Thing On?

June 21st, 2012 by Justin 7 comments »

Not sure if I’m still in anybody’s RSS feed or not. Guess I’ll find out.

Recently Frank W. James bowed out of farming and then blogging. Link is kind of useless because he took the old blog down entirely.

But, I figure the universe likes some balance. Around the time Frank quit farming I was just getting into it. So when he bowed out of blogging I figured I’d return.

Why? Because if reality TV has taught me anything the world likes to watch fools do stuff they shouldn’t be doing. And, unlike Frank, who was a professional writer and educated farmer I’m neither.

The other reason is this actually interests me. When I started blogging in 2003 it quickly became all about guns and politics because I was just really getting into them. After 10 years of doing the Gun Thing (2001-2011) I’m was bored, not just with blogging about it, but actually paying attention.

Meanwhile, in Russia…

December 16th, 2011 by Justin 3 comments »

In the late 80′s the Soviets were experimenting with an over/under 45mm grenade launcher. Things looks like a beast, and it weighed about 22lbs. Yikes.

Not Shooting, Not Blogging

December 9th, 2011 by Justin 117 comments »

Having a kid ended my weekly shooting outings and I kinda stopped farting around with guns all the time so I sorta quit blogging about them.

And then changing my career from “IT Consultant” to “farmer” also upended my life a bit, but I’m still here, and I’m having fun, I just don’t blog about it much.

It’s a weird life. On Tuesday I’m talking with a guy about pumpkin seeds for a new field, varieties, genetic resistance to disease, and the next day I’m virtualizing a 7 year old server that’s on its last legs. Most of what I’m doing is still IT type work as I dig us out of a hole. We’ve always been pretty good about being high-tech at our place but I’m replacing stuff that I originally put in as a kid back in 1997. Other stuff was put in by my youngest brother when he worked there part time while in college. So, there’s a lot of work to do. It’s not bad, for a greenhouse, but it could be better. Honestly we were probably leaps and bounds beyond 98% of other shops before I even signed on. I’m just upping it to the next level.

New Point of Sale system (customizing an open source product), new network, new servers, database fail over, new labeling software, new method for processing payroll, enhancements to our time clock system, system status monitoring software, etc. Some big things, some little things, but it’s a lot of work.

But, it’s fun.

Cheap Slugs

November 8th, 2011 by Justin No comments »

I was in my local Gander Mountain the other day and they had 5 packs of the Federal Truball slugs (rifled, 1oz, 1600fps) on sale for $2.99 a box (regularly $4.99) plus a $2.00 mail in rebate. So, that’s 99 cents for a box of slugs.

No idea how long the deal lasts.

First Car Meme

October 24th, 2011 by Justin 52 comments »

I’m bored, so I’ll pick this up. It went around the gun blogs the other week. Les chimed in, Kevin Baker did too, and so did Comrade EB Misfit as well as many others.

1. What was your first car? Model, year, color, condition?

The year was 1996 and I purchased a black 1977 Chevy Blazer. Its condition? It was over 200,000 miles, on its second engine, the guy I bought it from was no mechanic but he had remounted the gas tank after it fell off in a rear-end collision, it had no back seat left, and the driver’s side wheel well had rusted completely out. The previous owner laid a piece of plywood over the wheel to keep from getting hit in the head with mud and gravel as he drove. It got about 4 miles to the gallon and the automatic transmission’s linkage was so far off P was reverse, R was drive, and you couldn’t actually get it into ‘Park’ so I used a split log to chock the wheels if I had to park on any sort of incline for a long period of time. For short periods I just wedged a heavy-duty cardboard tube between the driver’s seat and the brake pedal. Oh, and the seatbelt mount had rusted completely out on the driver’s side. In fact the whole door frame was in dire need of repair.

It was a “fixer-upper” I guess.

2. What adventures did you have in it, good or bad?

Cripes, I could write a small book on this one, but the best story is that I acquired my 2nd vehicle after smashing into it with my 1st vehicle while exiting the student parking lot of our high school. I was in the wrong, I smashed into the car when somebody honked and I smacked the gas trying to get out of their way. My fault, I’ll pay for it. They gave me a repair bill for $1500. They only paid $500 for the car so I offered $500 to buy it. The father said the car was actually worth $1000 so I offered that up, went to the bank a few days later, got a cashier’s check, and showed up at their house. Suddenly the car was worth $1500. So I went back to the bank and got another $500 cashier’s check.

Not the smartest financial move in the world, seeing as how my legal liability was $0, but it only cost me a month’s worth the wages. Never lost any sleep over it and I can look myself in the mirror. Ya gotta wonder about the other guy though. Getting a 16 year old kid to pay you 3x what a car cost? Classy.

3. What happened to it, what’s the end of the story?

After about a year of service I drove it to the junkyard. During inspection the junkyard fellow asked how the heck I got it there. “I drove it here” was not the answer he was expecting seeing as how the driver’s side door wasn’t even closing anymore. I had to hold it in the whole way there. I got $50 for the heap. I paid $700 for it, but I got a lot of learning out of that thing with with all the repairs I learned how to do on it.

Dennis Ritchie has passed on

October 13th, 2011 by Justin 25 comments »

Yeah, I know, most people are thinking, “Who?” To me he was the R in K&R, but that probably doesn’t clue many people in either.

Here’s his Wikipedia page.

Basically, co-creator of the C programming language and key designer in the early days of Unix which puts him at ground zero when it comes to modern operating systems. Sure, they’re not all written in C these days, but at the core they are. BSD, Linux, OS X, and the Windows NT kernel are all C based for the most part.