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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:07 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
After a couple more weeks, they are slowly inching up towards the top of the trellis, and appear to have fully recovered from the late frost. The ones that received less damage are clearly ahead as some were set back due the the apical stem rotting away. Here's the update. These really haven't grown much in the last week with cool wet conditions, but the leaves are getting much larger. It's pretty easy to see when the frost happened by the new growth that is not damaged, and the leaves are really close together due to the recent cool weather.

There have been set backs, but we are still about 1 month of growth ahead of the same time last year on this date as shown by my blog.
http://stevespeonygarden.blogspot.com/2 ... -from.html

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Here are a couple that I sowed directly into the ground that are nowhere close to the size of the 6 that I started indoors in early/ mid April.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:27 am 
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After 2 weeks into June, 2 of the angled luffa plants have finally reached the trellis starting point where they can go horizontally. It's easy to tell that the rate of growth has definitely picked up as the space between the new leaves has increased by quite a bit after only 5 days from the last set of pictures. Once they are on top of the trellis, they tend to accelerate in growth perhaps because it's easily for the to grow horizontally, more leaves for energy, or maybe simply because it should be consistently warmer. They are fairly dominant in growing against the potato vines due to their larger leaves so I'll train them to grow farther and avoid shading them out too soon.

This increase in growth is happening regardless of well below average temperatures for the first half of June. Here are the 2 tallest ones. The progress is well ahead of it was at the same time last year, and manure has also been mixed into the soil about 2-3ft down so once they get going, the 1000 square foot of trellis space should be used up by around August 1st.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:54 pm 
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Nice steve...... looks like you need some nitrogen? Also what are the vines in between the luffa?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 4:57 pm 
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Those are dioscorea batatas air potato vines which don't have a chance against the luffas since they are just about done growing already, and can't grow any more as far as their main vines. The luffas are unlike cucumber vines and don't stop growing until the first frost when they get fried.

I think that chlorosis on a couple of them may be from the late frost we had towards the end of May, but in any case, I did add a few lbs of rabbit manure on each of them because I know they are starting to accelerate their growth now.

They are starting to produce fruit on the largest vines already so I'll have to start adding a lot more fertilizer soon. Most of the growth of these plants should happen in July where they should basically take over the entire trellis.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:17 am 
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The longest vine is now 20 inches past the start of the trellis so it's growing at a rate of about 3 inches per day, but with warmer weather next week, that rate may double. Here are some pictures of the longest one, but a couple of the other ones are only a few inches behind.

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The cool part about this plant is that the main stem can keep on increasing in diameter throughout the year resulting in a stem that can exceed 1 inch in diameter by September. It's already swelling up past 1/4 inch in some spots.
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It is very possible for this stem to be thicker than the steel pipe next to it in 2 months.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:47 pm 
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Steve - Do I recall you saying you grow bitter melon outdoors? Do they ripen ok for you? I love beef and bitter melon though a lot of pewople do not. Someone told me that people who have diabetes should not eat it, not that it is sugary but some enzyme or chemical that messes up their insulin tests just I assume as sago palm can mess up PSA results.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:12 pm 
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They generally ripen pretty well for me. They are nowhere nearly as productive as the luffa so I don't start them indoors, but each plant can produce about 5 nice fruits. The luffas can each produce 200+ fruits as long as you harvest them regularly.

Here's one of the bitter melon plants, nowhere close to how far along the luffas are.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:51 am 
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The potato vines have stopped their main stem growth, and are really leafing out, but the luffas are catching up quickly now as we are getting close to 90F each day now which is enough to make them grow 6 inches per day.

Here's a view of the trellis which should be completely covered by vines in August.
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The luffa male flowers have started to bloom, but the female flowers may not take until the vines get well over 10ft in length with lots of branches.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:58 am 
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Just to update on the luffas, it looks like most of them have stems over 1/2 inch in diameter by now, and they are 9-15ft long. The longest one is already about 6 inches beyond the edge of the old trellis meaning that it was definitely worth it to build the extra trellis space since the fruits are only barely starting to set. The biggest difference after 3 weeks is that the leaf size has increased greatly, and they are turning much darker likely due to the nitrogen from my foliar feed with kelp/ miracle gro. The soil has been loosened a bit with gypsum, and I've added a few different kinds of organic fertilizers to the base of the plants helping the root mass increase to support these enormous vines.

Here are a few pictures showing that they have really accelerated their growth since the start of July.
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They are longer than the potato vines now.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:44 am 
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After a week of highs in the low 90s and lows in the low 70s all the plants have really exploded in size. I'm starting to get some luffa fruits now. The fattest vines are approaching the 1 inch mark at the base, and several feet past the old trellis when they were barely there a week ago.

Here are a couple of the fruits. The longest one is about 15 inches long well ahead of the rest.
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There are many of them about this size.
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This is about a 3ft increase in length on many of the vines, putting the longest vine at around 20ft in total length by now.
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The longest one is only about 9ft away from the end of the trellis so it should get there in another 3 weeks.
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Another vine producing plant that I'm growing is canteloupes and I am just starting to notice the fruits this week. They don't produce that much vine mass, so I'm not expecting any more than 2-3 melons per plant.
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Wintermelons are also starting to produce now.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:41 am 
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I just harvested the first luffa gourd at 33 inches in length today. With this species, you typically harvest them when they are around 2-3 inches thick by 2-3ft in length. Another way to tell when they are about ready for harvest is when the ridges start to toughen up a bit, and when the lengthening slows down. They can get up to 4ft long if I leave them alone, but they taste the best when they are harvested well before they go to seed. It's also good to keep them harvested in order to allow them to continue producing more fruit. They can also get bitter when they get too old.

Here's the first harvest.
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I have plenty more in the pipeline. Once they start producing they will get heavier and heavier yields through the summer. As the plants start producing fruit, I will add some azomite to ensure that their stores of micro-nutrients don't run out, and they need the sprinkler a lot since there is so much leaf surface to transpire water.
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Some of my other vegetables are starting to produce as well.

Bitter melon
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Wintermelon
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Butternut gourd
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:49 pm 
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Hey Steve... I see you grow so much vegetables.
Do you have a big family to feed? or do you sell them to your neighbors... :D


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:01 am 
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I do intentionally grow lots of stuff so I can sell it, especially when all I need to do to maintain them is to allow the sprinkler systems do the work while I just enjoy, harvest and take pictures.

I just hope we get some warmth because this cool weather has been slowing everything down except the carrots which seem to embrace the cold weather.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:41 am 
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The luffa fruits are becoming more and more abundant each week now as they usually peak by around September, and that's right around the corner. The vines themselves were at most a couple feet onto the trellis at the beginning of the month, but now they are more than halfway onto the trellis, only a few inches away from the last section which will likely be loaded with vines in September.

I managed to get over 250 fruits off my larger vine last year, however I didn't have that many plants, and the trellis was probably less than half the size it is now.

This are both my vines on July 28th of last year.
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Here's what I have this year with the longest vines exceeding the longest from last year by about 6ft at the same time of the year which amounts to an average of 3 weeks of growth. The only thing that I've noticed that is strange is that fruiting is not occurring that much earlier regardless of having vines well over 20ft in length already.
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This may be a better view showing how much these vines are exceeding the old trellis already which is marked by the solid fat steel pole. I have limited the number of runners to ensure that the vines are fairly evenly distributed through the trellis, but I will let them bush out now that they are already approaching the poles which mark 9ft away from the edge meaning they will certainly cover that area up, even if they make tons of side branches.
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Branches can still be produced from stem cells on the internodes with enough sun exposure even after I take them off when I was trying to help them get longer which means there will still be runners around the lower, or front part of the trellis.
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This is what they normally look like when they are produced naturally, and however one drawback to letting too many of them grow is that it will slow down the main runners.
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Most of the runners, except for probably the very fat ones designed to cover ground like a highway will start producing fruits on almost every internode once it is almost August. This seems to happen even regardless of the size of the plant as long as they are large enough to produce fruits, but a larger vine can of course produce more fruits.
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The base of some of the stems are already getting up to around 1 inch in diameter which is more than enough to support 20-30 fruits at once on any given plant. The larger one got as large as 1.25 inches in diameter at the base towards the end of the year as they tend to keep getting fatter to support more production well into September.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:52 am 
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The growth rate has slowed down to more like 3 inches per day due to the cooler weather we have had lately, but getting to the final trellis by the end of July means that these guys have the entire month of August to take over the last 9ft of trellis space, and these vines don't stop growing until the first frost either which hopefully won't happen exceptionally early as it did last year (October 13th). I lost about 40 fruits that would have matured in the 2-3 weeks of warmer weather, or Indian summer that followed the early frost.

The 2 longest ones are directly over the starting line of the last trellis which is nearly 8ft high all around, and there are a few other vines that are only a few inches shy of this length. It would have been pointless to make the trellis well over 1000 square feet if these 7 vines don't fill it out, and it looks like it should happen.
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