If you follow Giant Pumpkins NZ on Facebook, or you receive The Pumpkin Post Newsletter then you should be aware of the Team Pumpkin 150 Square Feet Invitational Tournament that Southern Hemisphere growers can now enter. I’m not going to rehash all of that, click here if you want to get up to speed.

I’m excited about this comp, just to see how it goes and if there is anything I can produce through winter.

Things I need to sort out for this comp.

  • Preparing the area
  • Warming the soil
  • Protecting the plant
  • Making sure to get all the photos needed

Luckily the very small area that I grew in outside my place which produced the pumpkin below after doing nothing with it at all, works out to be 12m2 which is 2 less than required.

End of Season Result (1 of 2)

Preparing the area

This is what it started looking like

IMG_0876

Then I removed the old vine, pulled out some weeds, chopped down a bunch of these invasive trees/plants so the area gets more sunlight and sprayed everything with weedkiller.  The next day it ended up looking like this.

IMG_0880

I’ve still got heaps to do, but it will have to wait until I get back from Christchurch on the 24th.

Warming the Soil

I’m not sure the best way for me to warm the soil, I know Tim is thinking about using some warm water, pipes and other bits and pieces to raise and keep the soil warm. Growers in the Northern Hemisphere use heating cables which are expensive here, they will also warm the inside of a growing frame with heaters of some sort, especially in places covered in snow.

For me, I think polyethene is the first step. While it will be cold during winter, I am hoping for a mild one. My very small patch is slightly raised above the ground level, and there is protection on two sides from the wind.

The polyethene will keep the ground warm, and I am thinking if I can leave it there the whole time, cutting into it when required. A lot of experimentation will be happening during this period.

Plant Protection

I’ll also be constructing a hoop house to provide the seedling with much-needed protection from the elements and hopefully keep it warm as well as let much-needed light into the area for the plant.

I will be getting the rods and cover material from PolyNet, you can check out their products here.

In the initial stages of plant growth, I will get the hoops across the plant, and as the plant grows out I am thinking of changing the direction of the hoop house to be over the main vine. As I said before I will have to experiment and see how that goes.

Taking Photos

As this is a virtual weigh off it is up to the grower to follow all the rules and take the specified photos when required, I am going to have to have the requirements printed out and stuck to my all to make sure I remember to do them.

Are you taking part in this comp? Let me know in the comments below, and what strategies will you be using to get the best out of your plant?