Some basics here for the new grower.We start with a load of manure.This is 8 year old horse & sawdust from a local horse farm.It looks like brown fluffy soil.This is what you want, you don't want
the stinky stuff.If it still smells like poo You need to put that load in the compost pile for next year or the year after.I think there is some confusion here on what a load of manure really is.If its not broken down the plants cant use it.So when you ask the farmer for a load of manure ask him for the pile out back that's 3 years old or more.The type of manure really doesn't matter,the whole idea here is adding organic matter to the soil to improve the structure & nutrient level. To allow for better root growth.
You need to have a soil test done to see what your weak areas are.We are growing organic now,instead of using salty ferts that build up & slow growth.So we use soil amendments that are organic not man made chemicals.You need to find a supplier who sells large bags of products its much cheaper this way.Ask a farmer where the nearest grain elevator is or find one on line.We are using calcium,humate,kelp meal.cottenseed meal,blood meal,bone meal Azomite as well as others to get our soil where we would like them to be.Just touching on the basics here if you have any questions feel free to ask.I would work the amendments in early spring,except maybe sulfur to lower your PH I would add that in the fall to give it more time to work.
I would recommend buying a seed germination kit if you are new to starting seeds.They run about 25$and are well worth it.You can however use a lite bulb in a box if you like.Just dont burn down the crib.lol The pumpkin & melon seeds like to be germinated at 85 to 95 degrees.Seed starter mix is the best way to go.Don't start seeds in your soil from patch as you could kill your seeds before you get started from soil pathogens & high temps combined,the little feller wont stand a chance of lift off.Some folks file the edge of the seed shells to allow for easy removal latter on.I soak my seeds for 4 hrs in a cup of water with a pinch of hydrogen peroxide to kill any cooties on the shell.I place the seeds in starter mix point down crown up,some lay the seed sideways so it will pull the shell off as it emerges.Cover seed with 1/2 inch of starer mix.Your soil should be damp not wet.The biggest mistake I hear about is, I had my soil to wet and the seeds didn't germ.You must have oxygen to ignite root growth.I cover my little pots with plastic to stop the evaporation process if your in a seed germination kit with a low top you may not need to do this. Your seed starter mix needs to stay damp & not dry out.After a day or two if the soil looks dry I will take a gravy spoon & give them just one spoon full of water (not cold) you will shock the little feller.You must be careful not to drown the seeds.They should be up in 3 days some may take 5 days after that I might get concerned.Usually If there not up by then I had them to wet.If the shells wont fall off in a timely manner I use two pair of tweezers & remove shells.Be very very careful not to damage seedling
Sunflowers can be planted directly outdoors I suggest waiting till June 1st in the north to give soil time to warm.1/2 deep is fine.Seeds can be soaked for 8-12 hours in water or Marks Root Keeper is best for strong roots.
I used to think the quicker I get the seedling to the patch the better.Well it all depends on the weather.If cool damp out like 40s & 50s there is no point in putting plant out it will only go backwards not forward.I almost lost all my plants in 2011 when the entire month of may was
cloudy wet mess.I think we had 3 days of sun that month.I still wonder how I grew a 260 lb watermelon with that horrible start.So Your pot size is up to you.Some use 1 gallon or 2 gallon containers for the giant pumpkins.I think 1 gallon is plenty for a melon plant.I will be using ground warming cables this year so I will keep an eye on the forecast & decide which pot to use per forecast.I will use some Great White Mycorrhizae sprinkled in soil when transplanting to bigger pots.The Great White is more costly but it has tricodermas in it to help keep soil diseases from infecting plant.Either way you can use less expensive mycorrihzaes if you like.I do know my first year using the GW was my first healthy season with the kins in a long time.
I will add more topic soon!
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May 5th Giant pumpkins are planted with soil warming cables in place 70s & night lows around 50 all week!
May 3rd getting melons in the ground.
I learned recently that adding compost tea to your compost would speed things up.So I add to my leaf piles and to my soil which is low in Nitrogen.I used some Mother Earth
as well as Bountea.
April 17th 2013
Dug my first planting site today!This is the same spot that grew my 260.5 watermelon & my 1478.5 (Jackson Reed.This is however about 12 feet away from where the 1478.5 stump was grown.I wouldnt plant in the same exact spot.I didnt use ground warming cables last year,but plans have changed for an earlier start.I hope the month of May cooperates.My soil drains pretty good for being clay based.I would be careful doing this in hard clay.This would create a bowl of water in clay.If you do this in clay I would make sure it can drain water by trenching or drilling holes in bottom of pit ,so water does not to sit in hole.Sandy soils not an issue.This is about 12 inches deep,3 1/2 feet by 4 1/2.Ron Wallace puts his cable 3 feet down,makes sense heat rises.If I dig 12 more inches I will hit concrete as my patch is over a land filled swamp from the 1960s.So i will live with 12 inches.lol