Want to make a big statement in your garden this year by growing a few huge – or perhaps even gigantic pumpkins?
There is a lot of competition among the people who love to grow massive pumpkins. In fact, there are hundreds of festivals and fairs around the world dedicated to seeing who can grow the largest of them all.
There are certainly a few serious pumpkin growing experts that take the task on quite seriously. And it can actually be quite lucrative for the best of the best. In fact, some individuals who have grown pumpkins in excess of 2500 pounds have won $6000 or more in prize money!
For those, however, who simply want to try their hand at growing something big and unique, taking on the task of growing a massive backyard pumpkin can be a whole lot of fun. After all, when you consider some of these giants can grow over 20 pounds a day, it is quite the sight to see!
The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert to try growing big pumpkins. All you really need is a bit of space for growing, the correct seeds, and a little sunshine – and you are in the game!
With that in mind, here is a look at how to try your hand at growing huge pumpkins in your garden.
How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins – The Secrets To Success
Ordering The Correct Seeds
Growing your own massive pumpkins all starts with purchasing the right seeds. When you want to grow really big pumpkins, you need to start with a seed variety that is up for the task.
Unfortunately, the seeds used to grow gigantic pumpkins are not cheap. In fact, they can cost as much as $7 to $10 for a single pack of 10 seeds. They can even go up from there, with some seeds from former award winning pumpkins going for $10 a piece or more!
The good news is that once you grow your own “giant” pumpkin, you can save the seeds from year to year to keep the process going.
There are several varieties of gigantic pumpkin seeds that are popular. However, many of the massive pumpkins descend from Dills Atlantic Giant. The seeds originally hail from the Nova Scotia area, where Howard Dill and company developed this wondrously huge variety.
Over the years, it has been producing massive pumpkins that weigh in some cases in excess of 2,000+ pounds.
It is important to understand these weights have been achieved by some pretty special growers. Ones that try all kinds of unique and crazy means to get their globes to that size. However, with the most basic of effort, the average home grower can still get pumpkins in the 500 pound range.
Start Seeds Indoors – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
The perfect time for starting to grow your gigantic pumpkin is in early spring. And to get a head start on the growing season, it is best to start your seeds indoors for larger transplants.
Soaking your pumpkin seeds overnight will help to speed the process of germination. These tough seeds do have a long germination period, so it is extremely helpful for them to soak a bit before they go into the soil.
Pumpkin seeds require soil temperature of about 70° Fahrenheit to germinate. You can achieve this temperature by using a grow light and heat mat, especially if you stay in low-light or cool locations. A warm room without a heat mat will work, but it may take a few extra days to see the seeds sprout.
Your pumpkin plants cannot go out into your garden space until the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. With this in mind, plan on starting your seeds about 6 to 8 weeks before your anticipated outdoor planting day. See: How To Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors
How to Prepare the Soil for Planting – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
Soil conditions are very important to grow big pumpkins. If you can, test the soil where you are planting to make sure the PH is less than 7.5. A quick soil test meter works great for this. Product Link: Soil PH Probe Meter
Before planting, work a large amount of compost into the area where you will be planting. The more the better. Compost provides nutrients for your pumpkins, and helps them to absorb moisture more easily. You can also work in well-rotted cow, horse, rabbit or chicken manure to add in nutrients.
Design the whole bed to form an 18-inch hill around the middle of where you plant. This will help enhance soil drainage. If there is one thing you do not want, it is your pumpkin plant sitting in water. It will quickly rot the vine at the base.
Use a few inches of straw on top of the bed after planting to help regulate soil temperature, and keep competing weeds from taking hold.
Plant Your Pumpkin in a Spacious Location – How To Grow Huge Pumpkins
Make sure your pumpkin vine will have plenty of room to spread out for around 400 to 1000 square feet per hill or bed. In addition, make sure the location you select will have at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun each day.
For this reason, many who grow massive pumpkins select a location out and away from their main garden.
To grow giant pumpkins, allow each bed to hold one or a maximum of two pumpkins. However, you can plant more than two and eliminate the weak ones to remain with two or one after they develop roots.
If you are not planting transplants and planting seed directly, sow three seeds per hill and then thin out the weakest of the plants to a single plant after they germinate and grow a bit.
If planting by seed, plant one-inch-deep and pack the soil around them. Water them regularly whenever they become dry to help germinate. Seed planted pumpkins will grow fast once they germinate, and in climates with warmer spring temps, seed planting is an excellent choice.
Proper Watering – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
The roots of pumpkin seedlings are very shallow, so watering properly, slowly, and often is a big key to success.
Water your pumpkin at least one to two inches of water every week if there is inadequate rainfall. The best time for watering is during the early morning or afternoon to allow the foliage to dry up before evening.
Proper watering will help keep your pumpkin from disease and mildew. You can use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation to water your pumpkin effectively at the base. Overhead sprinklers can cause wet foliage, which increase the chances of diseases such as angular leaf spot, powdery mildew, and bacterial leaf blight.
Fertilizing – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
Pumpkin plants need and use a lot of nutrients to grow big. The compost at planting time helps, but more will be needed during the growing season. This can be done by fertilizing your pumpkin plants on a regular basis.
Once your plants are established in their growing space, use an all purpose 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer every few weeks as the plant grow. When applying the fertilizer, place around the base and water in, do not allow the fertilizer to get on or remain on the foliage. Product Link: PowerPak 20-20-20 Fertilizer
Protecting the Underside – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
Covering your soil with straw helps with more than just with soil temperature and weed control. This also aids in protecting the bottom of your massive pumpkins as they grow.
These areas are tender, and can easily begin to rot if left to touch the soil directly. Be careful if you are picking up young pumpkins to place more straw underneath, they can have their stems damaged easily, especially when they are young.
Pruning & Covering Vines – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
Unlike other pumpkins, massive pumpkins need to be covered and pruned regularly. Cut off any blooms or flowers until your pumpkin vine reaches a length of 10 feet.
After this, allow a few of the flowers beyond 10′ to become pumpkins. After a couple of days, prune your pumpkins and remain with one pumpkin on your vine. This will enable all the foliage to provide energy for producing one huge pumpkin.
Cover the vine of the pumpkin with straw. Allow plenty of foliage growth for photosynthesis as it continues to grow, this will also enhance the growth of more foliage shoots and roots.
Provide Shade in the Season – How To Grow Gigantic Pumpkins
As the pumpkin grows large, providing shade for it can help it continue to grow. More importantly, it keeps the pumpkin from ripening too early.
If a pumpkin gets too much sunlight, it will begin to mature and stop its growth. And in order to get your pumpkin to grow huge, you need to keep it growing into fall as long as possible.
To avoid direct sunlight, create a small shade using lightweight materials like burlap. A white bed sheet that covers the pumpkin and its stem will work well too. This shade will prevent stunted growth or hardening of the outer layer. It also allows the pumpkin to grow to its maximum potential.
The Final Push – Growing Huge Pumpkins
As your pumpkin heads into late fall, it will finally be ready to be picked! If you plan on moving it, have plenty of help. Even better, a tractor with a forklift!
Growing gigantic pumpkins can take a bit of extra care for sure. But by following the simple tips above, you can be rewarded with a massive pumpkin weighing 500 pounds or more!
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