As long as I can remember I have been infatuated with Giant Pumpkins. I'm not really sure why, quite frankly when a pumpkin gets to a certain size gravity takes over and they take on a "blobbie" type shape, but I am still drawn to them. Every October the news usually does a segment on someone who grew a 1,000 lb. pumpkin and all the work that went into the project. This year I decided to join this noble club of Pumpkinistas. My pumpkin mentor described this to me as raising a child and he wasn't kidding. I had to get a pumpkin babysitter while I went on vacation in July. Ultimately my pumpkin did not live up to my expectations but next year is a new year and I will learn from my experience. The attached photo's are from a friends pumpkin which topped out at 537 lbs.
People like me start thinking about Halloween in April
1) First you need to select a site for your pumpkin and you will need 300 - 900 sq. ft. to do it right and 8 - 12+ hours of sunlight is ideal.
2) Your secret weapon for growing a gorgeous gourd is soil preparation. I dug a hole 3 ft. deep that was 3 ft. by 5 ft. wide. and mixed in about 10 cubic feet of soil amendments leaving a mound in the center of the planting area for my plant. If you plan to plant more that one plant leave at least 30' between mounds.
3) That same week (mid April) you should get your germination started. I received an Atlantic Giant seed from a giant pumpkin workshop I attended. You will want to soak the seed overnight in warm water prior to planting in a small container full or potting soil or a seed starting mix. Keep the plant in a warmish (75 - 80 degrees) area where it will get sunlight and you should have a nice little pumpkin plant ready to transplant in about 2 weeks.
4) From here you simply water, fertilize, and keep your eye out for pest and make adjustments as necessary.
5) After 2 - 3 weeks you will start to see some flowers. Don't be alarmed if at first you are only getting male flowers. This happened to me and I thought I had a homosexual pumpkin plant but after a week of male flowers I saw my first female blossom and what a site she was. Several other ladies followed after that and I knew it was time to get my pumpkin ON!
6) Some people pollinate the flowers themselves by taking a male flower and shaking it over a female but I didn't find that necessary. My fruit set on its own and I started out with several pumpkins. One you have 3 or 4 the size of a basket ball you need to pick just ONE or TWO and cut the others loose. You will need to continue to thin the flowers throughout the year if you are dedicated to growing a gigantic pumpkin as these plants need to funnel all their energy into your prize winner.
7) Soon thereafter you are going to want to provide some shade to the plant depending on where you live to protect the pumpkin from the afternoon heat and possibly even install some misters. These steps will prevent your pumpkin from cracking and splitting.
8) As you near the end of your growing season think about how you are going to physically get your pumpkin out of the garden. Some move the pumpkin to a pallet at some point so the can bring in a tractor to lift the gourd out of the garden while others simply roll the pumpkin onto a tarp and get several friends to help carry it out.
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