Oct – Nov
Soil test and add amendments per soil test recommendations. Garden prep till/plow
Garden planning, seed selection and learning the ins and outs on growing giant pumpkins
Plan your garden figure each giant pumpkin plant will take at least 500 sq. ft.
Seed selection, you will be spending many hours trying to grow the biggest pumpkin so try to get the best seeds. Try to find a grower near you if possible. I go to big pumpkins.com and go to GPC pumpkin results and review the top producing seeds and look for the best crosses. I would suggest you spend some time on bigpumpkins.com, you can ask any question, and get plenty of free seeds. You can also get several How-To-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins books by Don Langevin and of course there are several on you tube.
Purchase growing supplies, retest soil. I use pretty much all organic for my nitrogen but need to depend on chemical herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. Get inside growing area ready and test with a few cheap seeds.
Main places to get Giant Pumpkin growing supplies are www.hollandsgiants.com and www.extremepumpkinstore.com. You can also find many of the products in a local garden store or gardening catalogs.
Amend soil, get planting area ready, put up hoop houses, plant seeds and spares indoors (85 temp florescent lights) Seeds from planting in doors to planting outside is about 10 days. (I may install soil heating cables, thermostat controlled heat lamps and irrigation in the hoop house)
Plant plants out in hoop house (first true leaf opposite of main vine) Time to start pruning, weeding, training and burying vines, watering, and start an insecticide, fungicide and fertilization program. (The chores)
Main problem insects are Squash Vine Borer, Squash Bug, Cucumber and leaf hoppers.
Main weather problems are frost, wind, hail and sun with high temps.
Main pest woodchucks, raccoons, deer and dogs
Time to remove hoops, continue with chores, learn when and how to make an s curve and start hand pollinating. (Don’t plan your summer vacation anywhere but in the patch)
Finish pollinating; keep doing the chores your ½ done. When our selected fruit is 10 days old, growing and still glossy we start shutting most of the vine growth down to get all energy going to the fruit. Fruit should be hitting its max growth rate by the end of the month. Add to your chore list to check the stem for stress and problems daily.
Keep up with the chores, and of course take your pride of joy to the MN St. Fair.
Don’t stop now, keep checking fruit and stem for problems you almost done, weigh-offs start toward the end of the month.
Weigh-offs, take time to participate and go meet and greet growers, ask questions, request seeds, repeat above.
So you want to Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins?
By Bill Foss firstname.lastname@example.org
So how do you really grow a giant pumpkin anyway? Well if you ask 10 experienced growers this question you will probably get a variety of answers. However, the four things most of them would include are (1) Good Seeds, (2) Good Soil, (3) Good work and (4) Good Luck! Here are some basic steps but BigPumpkins.com is dedicated to teaching techniques to all growers including beginners. If you’re interested on how to do any of these steps or want to see how I do them you are welcome to send me a message at email@example.com or come visit my patch.
Did you know that last year's world record pumpkin weighed a whopping 2009 pounds? Most of the world record pumpkins in the last twenty years have been produced in backyard gardens like yours. Here are several steps for you to try growing a giant of your own.
1. Site/Soil Preparation - The site should be level, well drained and located in full sun. The best soil type is loam. It is good to have your soil tested and apply necessary lime and fertilizers per test recommendations. Contact the Local County Extension service for soil test information. Also add organic matter such as manure or compost to establish good soil structure. It's best to work soil in the fall. If that's not possible, do so as soon as weather permits in the spring. For these giants to grow to maximize size each plant will require at least a 25x25x25 triangle area, you can squeeze in two in a 35x 35 area.
2. Seeds - if you plan on growing world-class pumpkins you will need to get seeds from world class growers, you can find them on BigPumkins.com, or contact me. Seeds are planted indoors in four to six-inch peat pots around April 25. Plant flat one inch deep in lightly moistened lightly soil and keep at 85 degrees and until it sprouts. (Usually 3-5 days) Place under (6 inches) a florescent light and transplant into the garden when the first true leaves appear (usually 3-5 days after germination) and handle with care, as they are easily set back during transplanting. The main wine will grow the opposite side of the first true leaf; position the first true leave to the back of the garden. (It is very helpful to sand the edges of the seed it allows it to shed the seed coat easier. Another good idea is to soak them in peroxide & water 1/10 for 4 hours.
3. Protect seedlings - Protect the plants from frost and wind until they are well established. To secure the young vines and plants provide stakes in an X fashion over them to keep them from twisting. Covering the vines with soil to secure and to promote secondary root growth works extremely well. Creating windbreaks or selecting a site with natural windbreaks helps protect the plant. To get the seedling off to a better start, build and install a hoop house to plant them in for the first month.
4. Pruning – The idea is to have the plant grow in a triangle. To do this will let the main vine grow straight for 25 ft. and the secondary vines will be pruned at 12ft, 10ft, 9ft etc. from the main vine. Remove all tertiary vines to grow off of the secondary. This is easily said but very time consuming to accomplish. If the vine gets to big you can terminate the end of the vine, and bury them (deep) in the ground.
| Main Vine
5. Adjusting the vine - Turning the vine maybe necessary to get it growing in the correct direction. You can easily make the vines go where you want it to by using sticks to slowly turn it by applying light pressure. I would suggest that you adjust the vine to get the pumpkin perpendicular and as a last resort move the pumpkin. And if moving the pumpkin is your only option do it a little each day. Vines can be moved easily on warm days and will easily break on cold days.
6. Water/Fertilizing - Pumpkins are shallow rooted and need at least one inch of water per week or more during hot dry periods. Each pumpkin is ninety percent water. It's best to water in early evening, but allows the plant time to dry before night. Add water-soluble plant food during watering, your soil test will determine how often to fertilize, I usually do it weekly but only at half strength and I mix it with other natural products, like seaweed and fish oil.
7. Weeding - Weed control is essential for seedlings to become established. However, once the plant has grown the large leaves they will block out the sun and help keep the weeds under control. It is important not to use a tiller in the patch once the plants are growing, as the shallow roots travel a long way in the loose soil.
8. The Giant Starts - Pollination may occur naturally through bees and other insects or through assisted pollination. Around the end of June to the first week of July select two or three pumpkins on the main vine 10 to 15 feet from the main root. Around July 15 select the fastest growing pumpkin and remove all other pumpkins from the plant. Select a pumpkin with a good round tall shape and positioned perpendicular to the vine with plenty of room to grow on all sides. You can put something under your pumpkin; many just use sand, I use paper mill fabric and sand. The object here is to keep the pumpkin dry, don't let it sit in the mud. Most growers will make an S curve in the main vine where the pumpkin is going to start this helps relief stem stress as it grows. When I think I have a good candidate I will remove the secondary vine, leaf and tendril and the pumpkin will usually grow perpendicular to main vine.
9. Watch Them Grow - Check vines every two days and remove any new pumpkins that have started. It is very important to relief stress on the stem as the pumpkin grows by cutting the roots on the underside of the vines in both directions of the pumpkin. This should allow room for the vine to move without breaking the stem as the pumpkin grows to giant status. If the vine starts to tighten it may be necessary to carefully move the vine. Support your vines leading to the pumpkin stem with Styrofoam.
10. Covering - It is a common to cover pumpkins to protect them from the sun. The sun will harden the skin and reduce the growth and increases the splitting potential. For new growers I would suggest a 8x10 tarp on 4 posts and go over the top, which allows very little rain or sun to get to the pumpkin. Most top experienced growers just use a white sheet and put it on the pumpkin.
11. Diseases and Pests - Growing "the big one" requires a proactive and preventative approach to problems. DO NOT water in the evening with an overhead watering system as this will cause mildew problems on the leaves and greatly reduce their capacity to feed the pumpkin. Insects such as vine borers, squash bugs and cucumber beetle larva will greatly harm the chances for success. Dust a two-foot area around the main root with an insecticide such as rotenone at the start of the growing season. I usually start to spray insecticides and fungicides on all foliage every two weeks in mid-May and switch types of insecticides every month. Only spray insecticides about sundown to prevent killing bees. Follow label directions when applying any pesticide, insecticide, fungicide or herbicide.
12. Harvest - When the weather turns cold protect "the big one" from freezing. Sound advice for moving pumpkins 500 lbs and over is start looking for a friend with a loader.
13. Information - There are many little tricks that I’ve learned over the years but they are all covered and then some on growing these garden giants, read Don Langevin's How to Grow World-Class Giant Pumpkins or go to www.bigpumpkins.com and read featured growers information. Or ask some of the other growers in the area or contact me, we all want you to be successful.
Other good information.
If this is your first year of growing Atlantic Giants I would strongly advise that you try to take care of only two plants. You can plant more but focus on two. Believe me; come mid-July these plants really grow, and by the end of July you will already have your favorites to focus on.
What do these pumpkin numbers mean 1213 Foss 06 1213=Weight of pumpkin (lbs), Foss=Grower, 06=Year grown Female = Growers Seed that produced the plant/pumpkin Male = Growers seed that produced the male flowers that pollinated the pumpkin.