Saturday, March 16, 2013

7 Secret Giant Pumpkin Growing Tips for New Growers

The following are 7 giant pumpkin growing tips for gardeners and families wanting to grow a giant pumpkin:

1. What do you feed a giant pumpkin?
A well composted soil that is balanced is key to growing a giant pumpkin. Most of what will determine if you are going to grow a giant pumpkin happens before you even put the plant in the ground. A great soil comes through some hard work and soil tests to make sure the levels of nitrogen, potassium, potash and calcium are in the right ratios.

2. Do you need special seeds to grow a giant pumpkin?
Yes! Atlantic Giant seeds are the only variety of pumpkin seed that will get over 500 pounds and the Atlantic Giant seeds you get in the hardware store probably aren't going to do it for you. You need seeds that have had controlled crosses of the best seed stock to get the real giants. With these types of seeds to grow a pumpkin over 100 pounds is not very difficult. Get seeds from the Pumpkin Man at

3. When should you plant your pumpkin seeds?
I start my plants indoors under grow lights and in a heated closet around April 15th.  By May 1st I put my plants in the ground inside of a hoop house (a small greenhouse).  For most growers who aren't looking to grow competition pumpkins I would recommend starting their pumpkin seeds around May 3rd in a big pot and put their plants outdoors around the 20th.

4.  How much do you water the pumpkin plant?

I water everyday and keep the ground lightly moist but not overly damp.  Giant pumpkins are 80% water so you need a lot of water to grow a big one.

5.  When do you pollinate the pumpkin?

I usually pollinate around July 1st.  That will give the pumpkin a little more than 90 days to grow before the weigh-offs that start around the end of September and go to mid-October.  In just 90 days a well taken care of pumpkin will put on as much as 40 pounds a day at its peak growth and will end up over 1,000 pounds.  By July 1st your plant should have grown big enough to power the growth of your pumpkin.  You want to grow just one pumpkin on the plant and it should be on the main vine at least 9 feet out from the stump.

6.  Do giant pumpkin growers use any special growth hormones, fertilizers or chemicals to grow a giant pumpkin?

The honest answer to that is 'kind of.'  A competition giant pumpkin grower usually grows organic.  Not because of a a green, love of the earth attitude (frankly most growers would poor battery acid on their plants if it would make a pumpkin grow bigger) but because it tends to grow the biggest pumpkins.  Growers will use a combination of things like Myko, Azos, liquid seaweed (growth hormone regulator), compost tea, etc. that may seem a little exotic to some but is pretty well known in the giant growing community.  A lot of these things can be found in the Giant Pumpkin Growers Kit.  I am spent time with growers that have grown world record pumpkins.  They don't really have any secret formulas other than hard work and a fair amount of research to have had the success that they have had.

7.  I've heard you should bury your vines to grow a giant pumpkin.  Why is that?

At each leaf node a vine will put out a root from the top and bottom of the vine if the vine is buried.  You can probably double the amount of roots your plants have by burying the vines.  Those roots will be an important part of growing a big pumpkin.

To learn more about growing giant pumpkins or to get involved in competition giant pumpkin growing visit the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable growers at

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