Friday, June 10, 2011

Big Rock Leads to 300-Pound Pumpkins?

In April I wrote a guest post for Workman Publishing's blog entitled “Growing More than You Can Chew?” The question this post asked was, "Should I expand my garden this year?" About a month after I wrote the post, I decided to do just that. Much to my chagrin, my efforts uncovered a BIG problem. . . .

Early this spring my husband demolished a rotting shed that took up space at one end of my garden. Excited by the prospect of this newly acquired space, I decided that I had to add two more rows to my garden and grow even more veggies! The task did not seem daunting at the time, because I had already dug and hand-tilled four rows and one square lettuce patch the previous 2 years.

I grabbed my shovel and pitchfork and began the laborous digging, the turning of the soil, and the pulling out of roots and small rocks. I was about a third of the way along the first row when I hit something with the shovel — a big rock!

I gave up for the time being on that row and started work on the second row. The experience I had with the first was repeated, which required me to enlist Ryan, my husband, to help.

After scraping the dirt off the surface of the rock, we could see its approximate size. At its widest it appeared to be about 2 1/2 feet, and its length was over 5 feet — its depth was still unknown to us.

Our friend Jay was visiting, and both men concluded that I would need special equipment to extract this rock. Conveniently, Jay's grandfather's tractor was at his disposal, and he offered to help us.

Have you ever heard the expression “. . . just the tip of the iceberg”? It's usually used as a metaphor for a problem or something intangible. In this case it perfectly explained this very tangible rock in my garden — the rock being the iceberg and the dirt and garden being the water in the sea. The 2 1/2' x 5' at ground level was the smallest dimension of the rock. As the rock descended farther into the ground, it expanded in both width and length.

The men began the process of removal while I was away on a business trip, but the project extended into my return. Luckily, the rock was similar to (or perhaps it actually is) shale, so it broke into many pieces, which eliminated the need for a jackhammer. The photos and captions below will give you a better idea of the removal process than my words can explain. Take a look:

One load of many rock pieces that were removed from the garden.

The biggest piece almost tipped the tractor during removal.

More rock pieces that were taken out.

Almost done — Ryan is standing at the edge of the crater.

The rock removal took several days and a lot of sweat and hard work on the part of Ryan and Jay (thank you, guys!). But hopefully, the removal of this big rock will produce big results. . . .

Ryan filled the hole with the contents of the compost bin (seen in the background of the big rock photo above). Some of the organic material had already turned to dirt, while the rest was still in stages of decomposition. I was told by a coworker that pumpkins would grow great with the nutrients from the compost and the heat produced by the process of decomposition.

After the hole was mostly filled by the compost, I topped it off with a mixture of organic topsoil, Moo Doo composted cow manure, and organic garden soil. I ran out of this mixture but had enough to complete one row. When the row was ready for sowing, I went out and bought Prizewinner Hybrid Pumpkin Seeds from Burpee — they can grow to weigh up to 300 pounds!

I planted six cherry pepper plants on one end and six giant
pumpkin seeds on the other end of the finished row (right).

Stay tuned throughout the season to see how big I can get these pumpkins to grow!

— Kristy L. Rustay, Marketing Manager


Bethany J said...

I can't wait to see not only how big the pumpkin gets, but what will you do with it?!?!

Kristy Rustay said...

Ryan asked me the same question, and I told him he was going to have to roll them into the front yard for decorations.

I am growing them more for the sport of it than anything else. Although, I am still not sure how I am going to weigh them to find out if I hit my goal.

If I do get several large pumpkins, I will give one away on the blog! The winner will have to provide the transportation for the pumpkin, of course.