Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Beat Your Friend/Family Member in a Pumpkin Weigh-off

Every year I get a message from a few people saying they are in a competition with a friend, family member or neighbor in a friendly pumpkin weigh-off competition.  It always brings a smile to my face when I hear their excitement at the beginning of the season.  I'm a fairly competitive person myself and can understand when a reputation and household pride is on the line.

So you want to win?  I'll give you a few giant pumpkin growing secrets:

  1. Start with the right pumpkin seeds.  The only way you can grow a truly big giant pumpkin is by growing Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds.  They are the only variety that can grow a pumpkin over 400 pounds.  Now not any atlantic giant pumpkin seeds will do.  You can buy Atlantic Giant seeds at most garden centers, but the seeds you really want are seeds that have had controlled pollinations where you know who mama and daddy are using the best genetics available.  You can get these competition seeds right here.
  2. Read this Blog.  It is packed full of tips and techniques to grow a big pumpkin. During the season I'm going to tell you everything I do with my pumpkins.
  3. Ask questions.  Websites like have growers on them that are some of the best growers in the world.  You can ask questions on the website as well as see answers to questions that other growers have post that will help you grow bigger.
  4. Prepare your soil. Big pumpkins come from world class soil.  It takes some research to figure out how to build a great soil and it can take years.  However, if you send your soil sample off to a lab like A&L Western Labs they can tell you what you have in your soil and what your soil needs.  Too often growers throw down some fertilizer without knowing what the soil needs and it can be more harmful than helpful.  Along with that, sometimes less is more.  Spoon feeding your plants frequently with small amounts of fertilizer is often better than all at once.
  5. Start your seeds indoors.  Start your seeds in a bright warm place indoors in a big pot.  That will help get your plants going early.  Don't keep the plant in the pot too long however or else the plant will get root bound.  2-3 weeks in the pot at most.
  6. Move your plants to a hoop house outdoors.  In most areas springs can be too cool for the pumpkin plants to be perfectly happy.  A hoop house (like a small green house) will help keep the plants warm and protected from the wind.  A hoop house, like a car in the sun, can heat up very quickly when the sun comes out so you usually need to keep it open during the day and closed during the night wit a light bulb in it to keep the plants relatively warm.
  7. Watering.  Keep the ground lightly moist.   How much you water will depend on your soil type and temperatures.  You don't want the ground mucky but you don't want it dry either.  If you go down an inch mid-day after a morning watering it should be lightly moist.
  8. Bury the vines.  When the vines start growing on the plant bury the vines.  At each leaf node the plant will put out a root.  The more your bury the vines the more roots you will have and a bigger pumpkin as a result.
There are lots of other pumpkin growing tips for growing a giant pumpkin, but if you do the ones listed above you should beat your friend, neighbor or family member come October.  Keep reading this blog for more tips and advice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perfect instructions. Thanks.