Pumpkins are one of the most popular fruits to grow in a garden, but did you know that there’s a variety that can be grown to look like giant pumpkins? These types of pumpkins have thick skin and they’re great for carving into jack-o’-lanterns. The problem is that these varieties don’t produce as much fruit as other pumpkin varieties. But if size really matters, then this may be the type of pumpkin plant for you! If you want to get started on growing your own giant pumpkins, here are some tips below.
How To Grow Giant Pumpkins: The Full Details Needed To Succeed
If you love the idea of growing giant pumpkins, then this blog post is for you. I’m going to share with you how to grow a pumpkin that can potentially weigh in at over 1,000 lbs. While it may sound like a tall order, it’s not as hard as one might think and will be worth all your efforts when you see what kind of produce they are capable of producing.
Site Selection and Planting Pumpkin
Gardens are a hub for both nourishment and relaxation. Spacing in the garden is important, so each plant has enough room to grow freely without feeling overcrowded or neglected. Each pumpkin needs 1,000 square feet of space; they need plenty of light which can be found by selecting an area with direct sunlight rather than shaded areas that will only bring on leafy greens such as lettuce instead. Water sources should also not be too far away from your patch if you want pumpkins- these plants require large amounts of water before reaching their maximum size!
If you are a gardener looking to increase organic content in your soil, it is important that you start preparing the site fall before. The best way of doing this would be incorporating composted manure or leaf litter into the top layer of your garden bed and then use either oat straw or rye plants by broadcasting them overtop around September 10th so they can grow through October. This will provide large amounts of material for creating rich soils with high nitrogen levels throughout winter–making sure all spring planting goes off without any problems!
Preparing for gardening should begin as early as possible with proper incorporation of materials such as manures and leaves on top surfaces during autumn months (before November). These additions help create fertile grounds because additional nutrients from decomposing.
Find a Giant Size Pumpkin Seed
Growing giant pumpkins is a lot of work. The first step in growing one-thousand pound hybrid seed, but it doesn’t happen by accident. To grow these monsters you need to be intimately knowledgeable about horticulture and have the right seeds for your area’s climate. If you want to start with something smaller like 300 pounds or 500 pounds then Dill’s Atlantic Giant will get the job done without breaking any backs!
Starting Your Seed
Filling the seed’s edge.
Plant your seed inside in the final week of April (earlier if you live in a warmer climate than Maine!).
To assist moisture penetrate easier, file off the edges of the seed (EXCEPT the pointy end where the new roots originate) before inserting it in the earth. Just file it down until you see a colour shift.
Place the seed pointy end down about 12 inch below the surface of the earth in a 4-inch container filled with dirt. Keep the soil moist but not soggy by watering it. The seed will decay if the soil is too damp. When germination, the seed prefers a temperature of 85-90 degrees. Place your pot in a warm location (near the wood stove, on a germination mat , on top of the refrigerator, near a heater, etc.).
When the seedling emerges, put it near a window or beneath a fluorescent light. If you’re using a fluorescent light, make sure it’s just a few inches above the seedling to avoid it becoming “leggy.”
You may GENTLY peel off the seed capsule by hand if the plant is having trouble releasing the seed coat.
Do you need a seed? Try Wallace’s Whoppers or become a member of your local pumpkin growers group!
Because the roots may rapidly take over the container and become root-bound, you should transfer your seedling outdoors as soon as possible.
You may move your seedling outdoors after the fear of frost has passed. Place some compost in your planting area and mix it in with the soil if feasible. These plants are strong feeders, and to increase the greens, they need a lot of nitrogen (which quickly seeps out of the soil in the spring).
When transplanting, keep in mind that the main vine will grow in the opposite direction of the first real leaf (the one in the centre).
Cover your plant with a row cover or transparent plastic, particularly on chilly days. If the temperature is between 80 and 90 degrees, the plants will develop significantly quicker. On hotter days, you may need to vent your greenhouse or clear plastic.
The Importance Of Preparation Cannot Be Overstated
Don’t simply go out to the garden and attempt to develop a leviathan out of a regular-sized, already-growing pumpkin.
Before you develop a large gourd, you’ll need to do some planning.
First and foremost, the correct sort of seed is required.
Seeds are available from Eden Brothers in a number of package sizes. Try cultivating ‘Wallace’s Whoppers,’ a gourd that’s genetically programmed to grow at least 600 to 1,000 pounds. Howard Dill of Nova Scotia is solely responsible for the development of the ‘Atlantic Giant,’ which he used to set the Guinness record for the heaviest pumpkin in 1981.
By the way, it only weighted 493.5 pounds. It’s amazing to consider how far the gigantic gourd industry has come in the previous several decades.
It won’t be long until the world record breaches the 3,000-pound barrier.
Dill is the grandpa of every gigantic pumpkin cultivated today, despite his gourd’s diminutive size: every jumbo-sized gourd cultivated in recent history is a cultivar or carefully bred variant of the original “Atlantic Giant.” After you’ve picked your seeds, you’ll need to set aside an area in your garden to grow your gourd. At least eight hours of daily sunshine should be received in this full sun area.
Clear a 10 foot by 10 foot portion of your yard in the autumn or early spring and till the soil down to 10 inches deep. If necessary, amend it with organically rich garden soil from your local nursery.
For a single plant, you’ll need a place that’s 10 feet in diameter – or 100 square feet – so if you want to develop more than one seedling into a behemoth, you’ll need a 20-foot bed.
Remember to consider not just the size of the fruit, but also the vines, which will swiftly take over every inch of space you offer them.
You should test the pH of the soil to make sure it’s between 6.0 and 7.5, and amend to correct any nutritional deficits.
Till a six-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost into the soil on top of the whole bed.
Then, in the centre of the bed, make a mound or hill that’s approximately 18 inches high.
This will aid in the drainage of the soil. Cover the bed with four inches of straw if you’re making it in the autumn to keep it warm and neat over the winter.
Your bed is now prepared to hold that colossal pumpkin!
In the autumn, prepare a 10-foot-diameter plot with good garden soil in a sunny, well-drained location. It’s essential to get at least eight hours of sun, and it’s even better if the area is shielded from the wind by shrubs or buildings.
Cover the bed with 6 inches of composted cow dung and till it in. The huge pumpkin’s fertility will be built on this foundation next year.
Start the pumpkin seeds in peat pots approximately a month before the usual last frost date in your location in late winter/early spring.
Lime and Fertilizer: Why You Need It
In the autumn, a soil test is advised to address pH concerns and determine if soil supplements such as lime and other macronutrients are needed before spring planting. Always follow the soil test recommendations when applying lime and fertilisers. Providing sufficient nutrients during the growth season will result in healthy, robust vines as well as bigger pumpkins.
Granular fertilisers should be scattered over the soil surface in the spring and mixed into the soil 4 to 6 inches deep a few days before planting out your transplants. Per 1,000 square feet of growth area, giant pumpkin vines need around 2 pounds of nitrogen (N), 3 pounds of phosphorus (P), and 6 pounds of potassium (K O).
After pollination and fruit set, a foliar feeding or fertigation programme should be initiated. Foliar fertilisers come in a variety of forms. Follow the label’s instructions and apply throughout the growth season.
Bryan Reeb (photo) It’s important to get a head start on growing huge pumpkins. Around the end of April, seeds should be sowed separately and started inside in 12-inch peat pots. It’s best to use a well-balanced potting media. When the first genuine leaf has completely developed, the plant is ready to be transplanted. It normally takes 10 to 14 days after sowing for this to happen. A floating row cover, cold frame, or tiny greenhouse may be used to shield transplants from late spring frost.
Planting Your Seeds The Right Way
Transplant your most robust seedling into the bed you prepared in the autumn after it has several leaves. (If you have the room, build more than one mound and plant many seedlings; each seedling should be at least 10 feet apart.)
Cover the seedling with a cold frame to protect it from late frosts and warm up the earth, encouraging the pumpkin plant to thrive. This is effectively a mini-greenhouse, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate — four stakes with transparent 6-mil plastic sheeting glued on top would do. Around the young plant, the cold frame should cover as least a 4-foot circular space.
Check the moisture in the soil on a daily basis. At all times, the ground should be uniformly damp — but not wet. Wetting the foliage increases fungal growth, so water from the ground up (a drip system is ideal for this).
Throughout the growth season, keep a weed-free zone surrounding the pumpkin plant.
On a daily basis, keep an eye out for pests and disease, and use pesticides and fungicides as soon as they arise.
Process of Sowing Seeds
If you reside in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-5, start sowing ‘Atlantic Giant’ seeds indoors two to four weeks before the latest frost date in your location.
Zones 6-9 may plant seeds directly into the mound at least two weeks after the last frost date in their location.
Soak seeds in warm water for 12 hours the night before, whether you’re planting inside or outdoors. This will speed up the germination process, which is critical in the battle to develop the largest pumpkin possible.
Create a one-inch-deep hole and set two seeds flat inside to direct sow. Cover with dirt, thoroughly water, and maintain damp until seedlings emerge. Thin out the weaker seedling when it has at least two genuine leaves.
Fill four-inch biodegradable pots with seed-starting mix to start seeds inside. It’s crucial to utilise biodegradable containers when transplanting since they won’t disrupt the delicate taproot. To get started to a good start, you’ll need those roots!
With your finger, make a one-inch hole and place the seed flat within. Water with a spray bottle after covering with seed-starting mix.
Place the tray on a warm windowsill or use a heat pad to keep the soil wet and warm. Within four to seven days, seedlings should germinate.
Pumpkins have shallow roots, so if rainfall is insufficient, water carefully with at least 1 inch of water each week. During hot, windy summer days, more water may be necessary. So that the foliage dries by evening, water in the morning or early afternoon. This helps to keep leaf diseases at bay. The optimum method of watering is trickle irrigation, though soaker hoses may also be used. Wet leaves increases the risk of disease, notably angular leaf spot, bacterial leaf blight, and powdery mildew, hence overhead sprinklers are useful.
How to Take Care of Your Giant Pumpkin
The majority of the necessary care is covered in our guide on growing pumpkins, but I’ll go over the most important factors to consider for gigantic pumpkins here.
You’ll want to provide lots of hydration to this massive infant, but not too much.
If you live in a dry environment, set a timer on your phone or make a note in your gardening diary to water your gourd every day, or every two to five days if you reside in a wetter region.
Water should not be sprayed directly on the leaves or the growing gourd, since this may cause it to rot.
Stick your finger into the dirt around the base of the plant’s main vine to check for wetness. Hold off on watering until the following day if it seems damp about an inch down.
To keep the plant from decaying, spread a layer of mulch around it, leaving a 10-inch gap around the base of the main vine.
You may want to set a reminder to fertilise your gourd every five to ten days to ensure it receives adequate nutrition.
In the first 55 days or so before blossoms bloom, you should treat your gourds with a high-nitrogen fertiliser.
However, gourds, particularly huge ones, need phosphorus and potassium, so use a citrus mix like Arbico Organics’ 6-3-3 NPK citrus mix. Don’t be deceived by the name: this blend is perfect for vining plants, including your huge gourd, according to the experts at Arbico Organics.
It’s time to raise your phosphorus game around a week before blooms show, or approximately 50 days after germination.
I like to sprinkle bone meal around my pumpkin plants.
It clearly aids the plant in producing both male and female blooms, in my experience.
Check out our guide to fertilising pumpkins for additional information on that article and to learn more. Bone Meal Fertilizer from the Ground Up This 3-15-0 NPK bone meal powder, also available from Arbico Organics, is one of my favourites. It’s time to go into action mode when both a male and a female flower on your plant are ready to blossom.
Female flowers have an ovary at the base of the bloom that appears like a bump. This ovary will be absent in male flowers.
You’ll note that the blossoms are loose the day before they open, and orange coloured petals are starting to peep out.
Go to the garden first thing the next morning.
Your flowers should welcome you with their huge, orange, happy faces. Remove all pieces of each male stamen off the stalk and rub them all over every portion of the female flower’s stigma if your plant has more than one male bloom.
It’s best if you can get as much pollen on that stigma as possible.
Close the female flower and carefully wrap some gardening twine around her to keep bees and other insects away from the stigma’s pollen.
The bloom will fade off after a few days, but the ovary will continue to develop.
That’s when you’ll know your prize-winning gigantic pumpkin has borne fruit.
This post will teach you how to hand-pollinate pumpkin plants. After your chosen bloom has been pollinated, remove every single extra blossom you see, regardless of whether it is male or female.
The vine must devote all of its nutrition and energy resources to producing that one fruit.
Once the lateral vines reach an eight-foot length, you should clip them.
Because your pumpkin need those leaves for vitality, don’t cut off all the vines as soon as they begin to develop. bury the vines’ cut ends in the dirt.
The Seedling is Transplanted
You may choose your two strongest seedlings when they have at least two to three true leaves if you have enough area to make a 20-foot bed.
If you only have room for one, choose the tallest, greenest, most robust-looking seedling to transplant after all danger of frost has gone.
Dig a hole the same size as the biodegradable pot in the middle of your created mound. Backfill the container with dirt and place it inside. Make sure the whole pot is covered.
Thoroughly wet the area. If you live in an area with intense sunshine or strong winds, you may cover your little plant with a little floating row cover or shade cloth until it has established itself.
After around 10 days, you may remove the protection.
The Giant Pumpkin
Install a modest fence around the pumpkin plant if the growing region is windy to minimise leaf damage and desiccation. To supply maximal photosynthetic energy, the leaves must stay big and supple.
Remove all blossom buds until the pumpkin vine reaches a length of around 10 feet. This causes the plants to produce more and bigger leaves, allowing a single pumpkin to develop quickly.
Allow numerous blooms to develop into pumpkins once the vine reaches 10 feet in length, but remove all except the biggest fruit after several weeks of development.
To avoid the selected pumpkin from coming into touch with the damp dirt underneath, provide a sand bed for it. This is necessary to avoid decay.
Gently position the pumpkin so that the stem is perpendicular to the vine. The stems normally begin at an acute angle to the vine, but when they grow brittle later in the season, they are prone to breaking in this position.
Set up a shade cloth canopy over the pumpkin of your choice. The fruit’s skin hardens faster in direct sunlight, limiting its final size.
As the pumpkin grows, remove the rootlets that appear along the vine for several feet on each side of it. As the pumpkin develops, the vine has to be able to raise itself freely from the ground, which is made difficult by the little roots that sprout naturally on all pumpkin plants.
To stimulate a wider root system, spread a few inches of dirt over roots that grow along other areas of the vines. To stimulate maximal absorption, water and fertilise the soil underneath all of the vines, not just the main root system.
Once the lateral vines that grow off the main vine reach approximately 8 feet in length, prune them. Though you want as many leaves as possible to supply energy to the developing pumpkin, allowing the vines to develop to an excessive length causes the plant to redirect more energy to vine development (rather than fruit development). Many pumpkin gardeners propose training the vines in a Christmas tree pattern, with the longest lateral vines closest to the planting place and the shortest lateral vines moving toward the growth point.
If you can keep up the TLC until the first frost of September (when the leaves turn brown and die), you should be able to harvest a large pumpkin. Remove the pumpkin from its stem and enlist the aid of a few pals to roll it onto a scale. Most importantly, don’t waste all much pumpkin — the large varieties are perfect for soups, pies, muffins, and any other pumpkin-based dish.
Importance Of Pollination
Although hand pollination is favoured for fruit set, natural pollination by honey bees, squash bees, and bumble bees is also effective. Hand pollination permits a more precise genetic cross. Most fruit is produced approximately 15 feet down the main vine from the root stump on main vine pollinations. It’s best to limit yourself to four to six pumpkins per plant at first. Trim pumpkins back to one when they reach volleyball size. The less competition for resources there is, the more likely you are to grow a huge pumpkin.
The Cultural Aspect
Weeds are seldom an issue when planting in a well-prepared bed, and may be handled by hand weeding or hoeing. Continue to pull weeds until the vines have completely covered the ground. Most weeds will be shaded out by the lush foliage at this time.
Weed management using plastic mulches is quite effective. Plastic mulches also help to maintain healthy soil moisture levels by warming the soil. When the soil is in excellent planting condition, the plastic may be laid anywhere from a few days to two to three weeks before planting. Organic mulches put in the summer after the soil has warmed can help pumpkins if you don’t use plastic.
Ron Wallace is shown. Additional nitrogen is needed when summer mulching materials, like as straw, are employed. For each bushel of mulch, combine 1 tablespoon ammonium sulphate, calcium nitrate, or soda nitrate. During the early growth season, apply once or twice. Any of the above may be replaced with a nitrogen-rich complete fertiliser. When the mulch is damp, apply the fertiliser.
Weed control may also be accomplished using herbicides. These compounds should only be applied by a qualified and certified applicator.
Windbreaks – Taking Into Consideration
Windbreaks are important to prevent young plants from being “wind whipped” before they have established a strong root system. Windbreaks should be placed on plants that are most vulnerable to southwest winds until the side-runners are 3 to 4 feet long in late June. A windbreak may be created using a snow fence and burlap. Covering the vines with dirt at each node will assist to anchor the vines and encourage secondary root growth.
Diseases And Insects: Should You Be Worried?
To decrease the occurrence of pest and disease pressure, you should only plant once every three years at the same location. Your chances of growing a huge pumpkin will be considerably lowered if you don’t use a routine pest scouting and control programme for insects and illnesses. At the time of transplanting, an insect and disease management programme must be implemented.
Striped cucumber beetles may spread bacterial wilt, and aphids may spread viruses, so keep an eye out for both pests in the early and late seasons. If they come in large numbers, be prepared to control them. There is no method to halt a bacterial or viral infection once it has started. Other pests to watch for are the squash bug and squash vine borer, which producers should keep an eye on throughout the season and be ready to deal with if required.
Every grower will observe powdery mildew every year; the fungal colonies look like powdered sugar scattered on both sides of the leaf. Wet weather favours bacterial infections like angular leaf spot and bacterial leaf spot. Wet weather also favours soil-borne diseases including Fusarium, Phytophthora, and Plectosporium, which are difficult to treat with fungicides. To minimise disease resistance, rotate the Mode of Action (MOA) or Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) number while applying fungicides.
Check with your local Extension educator for current rates and products for basic pesticide recommendations to manage insects and illnesses. You may also consult the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (Bulletin 948) or the Homeowner’s Guide to Fungicides, both of which are accessible at extensionpubs.osu.edu (University of Kentucky Fact Sheet PPFS-GEN-07 ). Licensed pesticide applicators will have additional insecticide and fungal alternatives to choose from.
Stress in the Stem
Because of the size and rapid development of these pumpkins, root trimming and training vines are essential. This will keep the stems from breaking and splitting. Curve the vine 80 to 90 degrees away from the fruit when the pumpkin is basketball size. Curve the vine back in the approximate direction it was heading about 3 feet away from the fruit. 3 feet out on the vine, clip the roots. As the pumpkin expands, the vine will be able to simply climb higher. Long-shaped pumpkins tend to force the vine forward, causing a kink. If this occurs, move the pumpkin back 4 to 5 inches; this is normally required when the pumpkin weighs about 300 pounds. It’s tough to spin a circular pumpkin without injuring the stem.
The Shade Factor
Make a shade out of burlap or another lightweight material to shield the pumpkin from direct sunlight. A simple white bedsheet thrown over the pumpkin with the stem visible would do. This will prevent the outer skin from hardening prematurely and enable the pumpkin to grow to its full genetic potential in terms of size.
Bugs, especially cucumber beetles and squash bugs, will most likely be your largest issue in the pumpkin patch. They may swiftly spiral out of control.
To quickly get rid of these pests, most top farmers use pesticides, yet even organic pesticides risk harming vital insects and bees.
To aid with pest management, I put numerous blue hubbard squash plants on the boundaries of my patch. The blue hubbard squash is a trap crop, which means that the pests prefer it over the pumpkin. In my garden, I remove all of the blooms from the blue hubbard squash vine (to keep the bees away), and then spray it with Neem Oil to help kill the cucumber beetles. It’s not a perfect method, and I have to physically smash the cucumber bugs every morning to keep them from getting out of hand.
Pumpkin vines may grow at a rate of up to a foot each day! It will become a tangled mess if you do not trim and train your vines. If you simply want to let it grow naturally, that’s OK, but if you want a record pumpkin, you’ll need to clip your vines.
The principal vine is the plant’s main vine. Secondary vines will sprout from the secondary vines, and tertiary vines will sprout from the tertiary vines. Greater vines generally equals more water and nutrient intake for the plant, but too many might be detrimental. You want to keep these vines from becoming too long. Keep in mind that you’re attempting to produce a pumpkin, not a salad!
Cut the tops of the secondary vines using pruning snips once they reach approximately 15 feet in length as the vines develop. All tertiary vines should be cut off since they consume energy that might be used to produce your pumpkin. This illustration depicts how I trim my vines. Just before the pumpkin, I let a few tertiary vines to develop on the secondary vines. This is because the plant area BEFORE the pumpkin nourishes the fruit, while the vine following the pumpkin is less significant. I let the main vine to grow throughout the season because it transmits growth hormones to the pumpkin, telling it to keep growing.
Burying vines is a very important, yet time-consuming process if you truly want a huge pumpkin.
A root grows beneath the vine at the base of each leaf, allowing the plant to take up more water and nutrients. If you cover the vine with earth, it will produce a second root on the top of the vine.
Dig a trench in front of the vine as it develops to direct it and make burying vines simpler. When burying the vine, sprinkle some mycorrhizae into the trench to increase your chances of receiving a large pumpkin. Mycorrhizae is a fungus that creates a symbiotic association with roots and allows them to absorb even more water. It’s available in granular form.
Watch Your Giant Pumpkin Grow
The female flower’s petals will droop and fall off during the following several days. Your pumpkin will begin to grow if your pollination was successful.
Place something below the pumpkin while it is still little to keep it from decaying or being eaten by insects or rats from below. If you can get it, mill fabric makes a nice foundation. Sand (which drains well) and rigid foam insulation are two further alternatives.
To keep your pumpkin from growing into the main vine as it becomes larger, try to position it perpendicular to it. When the stem is more pliable, do this in the heat of the day. The stem of the pumpkin may crack if you handle it too much, so take it carefully and spread it out over a few days!
During the day, cover your pumpkin with a white sheet to keep the skin from splitting in the sun. Mine was found at a garage sale.
Make careful to water your pumpkin if you don’t receive a lot of rain. Depending on your soil, each plant may need up to 150 gallons of water each day!
Getting Your Giant Pumpkin Harvested and Moved
When the time comes, you’ll want to harvest your pumpkin and transport it to a weigh-in or a showcase. Smaller pumpkins (under 400 pounds) may be carried with the aid of a heavy-duty tarp and a few buddies.
Moving and transporting giant pumpkins weighing more than 700 pounds will need a different method. Lifting frames and straps for skid loaders and tractor-mounted front-end loaders may be made in a variety of ways.