My wife would tell you that the giant pumpkin season is a year around hobby for me (and that would be true) but we are now offically off and running. At the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers Spring Meeting on Saturday Joe Scherber announced he had already started his seeds and I know that got more than one grower thinking about their start date.
Last year I planned on starting on the 15th but illness made me wait until the 18th. With the weigh-off last year on September 26th I decided that anything after the 15th was to late to get started. I'd rather let my vines run a little longer with an early start date. This year the weigh-off is on the 25th so I decided to sand and soak my seeds tonight. Right now my seeds are wrapped in a lightly damp paper towel in a 87 degree closet. Hopefully a little root will be popping out of the seeds in the next 24 hours.
This year I'm doing one thing different in my seed starting pots. I've added a little Azos (Azospirillum brasilense) to the pots. Azos is a nitrogen fixing bacteria that will literally take nitrogen from the air and give it to the plants in a usable form. This bacteria comes from the jungles of Brazil. In Niagara they talked about seed starting using Azos where they lightly dusted the seeds with Azos before they were put in the pot and they showed pictures of the trial and and the control plants. The Azos plants in the pictures were literally twice as big as the other plants. I planned on doing some seed starting the same way they did in the trials until I heard the results of the Wiz's trial plantings. What he found was that the Azos plants were much more vigourous growers but he also found that they grew to fast in most of the plants riped off a cot leaf when it was coming out of the seed. Now the Wiz admits that he might have put on to much Azos on the seed and the seeds weren't sanded, but that scared we away a little so I put my Azos in the potting soil rather than on the seed to avoid those kinds of problems.
The next seven days is always a little anxious for a giant pumpkin grower. You spend a fair amount of time deciding which seeds to grow and thinking about the possible crosses you could do with those seeds, but you never know if the seeds will germinate. Last year I tried starting a 1450 Wallace but didn't have any luck with it (a common problem with the 1450). This year I started a couple of backup plants just in case something doesn't work out with the pumpkin plants that I plan on growing. I'll actually put my backup plants in the ground a couple of feet away from my "main" plants and if they are outperforming the main plants I'll rip the main plants out of the ground.
Here is to hoping in 2010! Hope is why we do this crazy pumpkin thing we do.