I rarely go off topic with my Portland Appraisal Blog. However, I thought this would be a fun
exception. One of my hobbies, other than
water skiing, is growing giant pumpkins.
This year, our two boys each helped grow their own giant
pumpkins. The smaller of the two pumpkins
grew to 974 pounds. After the local
weigh off, we put it on display at the boys’ school. Once Halloween had passed, we removed the
seeds and plan to give them to the school kids for a chance to grow their
own. This blog post will serve as simple
directions for anyone with those seeds to grow their own giant pumpkin next
Get a seed with good genetics. If you have one of my seeds, you've already done that. These seeds' genetics can be traced to the world's first pumpkin to break 2,000 pounds.
a spot in the yard or garden. The larger
the area (to a point) with the more sun, the bigger the pumpkin will grow. A 25x25x25 triangle is ideal, but I’ve grown
big pumpkins in areas that are smaller than 10x10.
Tip: Mix compost into your garden in the fall or
early spring. Big pumpkins like lots of
well-aged compost and crumbly soil that drains well. I add loads of mushroom compost to fix most
Tip: Think about how you’re going to train the
vine when selecting a spot (see #4 below).
April 15th, plant the seed pointy side down, just below the surface
(less than one inch), in a mound of soil near one edge of the patch. Do not compact the soil. I start my seeds indoors under a grow light
and transplant the seedlings to the mound (covered by a cold frame) a couple
weeks later; but some of my biggest pumpkins have grown without the protection
of a cold frame.
Tip: Soak your seed in water overnight before
Tip: Protect your baby seedling from wind, frost,
or early heat.
the vine to grow in the shape of a Christmas tree that is laying on its
side. Imagine that the main vine is the
trunk of the Christmas tree and the secondary vines sprout out of the main vine
and grow to the sides. Any vines that
sprout off the secondary vine are called tertiary (third) and should be
removed. Tertiary vines will only drain
energy from your plant. I use small
barbeque skewers as stakes to hold the vine in the direction that I want it to
Tip: Only train the vines (using extreme caution)
in the afternoon when the plant is warm.
Bending the vine can cause breaking or cracking. If the main vine becomes damaged, that could
be the end of hopes for a large pumpkin.
The vine can be trained with constant pressure by moving the vine a
little each day rather than in one bend or motion.
Tip: As the plant grows, gently cover all the
vines with garden soil to encourage secondary root production.
the regular rain stops, you will need to water your pumpkin every day. Big pumpkins require plenty of water, but do
not flood the plant. A giant pumpkin
takes roughly the same amount of water as it takes to keep a patch of lawn
green — and a giant pumpkin growing in your yard is far more exciting than just
a patch of green grass.
flowers (with bulbs on the bottom) will become pumpkins if pollinated. They can be hand pollinated using the longer stemmed
male flowers, or merely let the bees do the work. If you’re on pace for a big pumpkin,
pollination will happen in early June and the flower will soon start to develop
into a pumpkin.
you have a couple of pumpkins about the size of a basketball on the plant,
select the fastest growing pumpkin and remove all the others. If you keep two pumpkins, the plant will be
splitting its energy between both pumpkins.
Tip: The biggest pumpkins will usually grow on the
main vine about ten feet from the stump, but big pumpkins can be grown on
secondary vines. Our pumpkin grew on a
secondary after the pumpkin on the main vine stopped growing (luckily, I had
not yet removed the other pumpkins).
Tip: Don’t let the vine sprout roots into the
ground within several feet of either side of the pumpkin. As the pumpkin grows, the vine needs to be free
to raise off the ground and not break.
Tip: Don’t try to move the pumpkin. Small pumpkins are fragile like a tomato and
damage to early skin can make them crack open when they get larger. Even the scratchy underside of pumpkin leafs
rubbing on the baby pumpkin can damage its skin.
Tip: Protect your pumpkin from the sun. Some growers use a shade. I cover my pumpkins with a sheet.
Follow these steps and with a little luck, you will have a
big pumpkin next fall. Parents are free
to contact me if they have questions, want to show pictures (I would love to
see them), need more seeds, or need advice on transporting your harvest.
Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the
conversation? Let me know in the
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