How to Grow Giant Pumpkins

Four Methods:Picking the Right SoilSelecting and Germinating Your SeedsPollinating Your PumpkinsGrowing Your Gigantic Pumpkin

If you haven't heard the story of the Great Pumpkin, it goes like this: The Great Pumpkin will rise from the garden and bring presents to all the good little children. Well now you can grow your own great pumpkin, and maybe win a blue ribbon prize to boot. Follow these steps to grow pumpkins so large, you, your loves ones and (hopefully) the judges will stare at them with wonder.

Method 1
Picking the Right Soil

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    Choose or prepare the soil for growing giant pumpkins. Collect some of the soil where you intend to plant your pumpkins.Take the soil to your local agricultural or conservation agency for testing. The test will let you know exactly what nutrients are in the soil. You can then determine what needs to be added. Having the right kind of soil will create vigorous, healthy vines. Prepare the soil in early spring when the ground begins to warm.
    • Giant pumpkins generally need 2 pounds nitrogen (N), 3 pounds phosphorous (P2O2) and 6 pounds potash (K2O) per 1,000 square feet of growing space. Your soil should fall between 6.5 and 6.8 on the pH scale.[1]
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    • Pumpkins need good, well-drained soil, not wet, dense soil.
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    Choose a fertilizer to enhance your soil. If your soil doesn’t have the proper amount of nutrients, fertilizers can help to create the perfect environment in which to grow your pumpkins.
    • Even if your soil is nutrient rich, adding a granular fertilizer to the top layer of soil will only help your pumpkins to grow. Incorporate this fertilizer into the soil several days before you intend to transplant your pumpkins.
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    You plot should be located in the sun. Pumpkins need a fair amount of sunshine to grow up healthy and large. Keep in mind that pumpkins are sensitive and will need shelter from any intense wind.
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    Add organic matter to your soil. Organic matters like manure will help your pumpkins grow up strong, healthy (and large!) You should use four inches of manure.

Method 2
Selecting and Germinating Your Seeds

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    Select proper seeds for planting. The genetics of the seeds you choose is important. They should come from a background of large-to-giant-size pumpkins. You can either:
    • Contact a pumpkin growing association for seeds. Pumpkin associations can be found on the internet.
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    • Purchase seeds from a farmer that raises giant competition pumpkins. Top quality pumpkin seeds with good genetics can actually cost up to $50 each.
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    Plant your seeds. If you live in a place that could potentially get frost in late April or May, you should start by planting your seeds in pots and keeping them indoors. If you think your pumpkins will be safe from frost, plant your seeds outside. Keep in mind that the seeds that sprout the fastest will generally grow the strongest pumpkins.[2]
    • Germinating your seeds inside: Plant your seeds in peat pots that have four to six inches of soil in each pot. Plant the seeds one inch deep in the soil that is moist and keep the pots at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). Some people use a greenhouse effect while others find setting them on top of the refrigerator works well. You should begin to see sprouts within three to five days.
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    • Germinating seeds outdoors: Before planting the seeds, soak them in warm water for four hours. Create a two-foot circle in the soil and remove the top inch of soil. Plant five seeds in the circle and cover them back up with the one inch of dirt. If possible, you can create a greenhouse over where you intend to plants the seeds and begin warming the soil several weeks in advance and several weeks after the sprouts have come up.
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    Transplant your sprouts. Only do this if you have chosen to germinate your seeds inside. Transplant your sprouts when you see the first true leaves appear (they will be green and full looking.)[3]
    • Build up mounds of soil that are roughly two-foot circles (they should be about the size of a pitcher’s mound.) Plant one sprout in each mound. Keep each mound approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) apart. If possible, place a small greenhouse on top of each mound. Doing this will keep your sprouts warm and healthy.
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    • Remove the tent or mini greenhouse on hot days so that the plants do not overheat.
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Method 3
Pollinating Your Pumpkins

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    Pick your vine. The strongest and thickest vines often produce the largest pumpkins. Monitor your vines and see which one seems to be growing the fastest and thickest.
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    Pollinate the pumpkin blossoms by hand. Pollinating by hand is the preferred method but if you don’t have the time or the energy, it is a pretty safe bet that the bees will do most of the pollination for you. The flowers generally show up in late July.
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    Identify the male and female plants to pollinate by hand. As in every form of reproduction, there is a male and female pumpkin counterpart. Do not begin pollinating until you the plant has roughly 200 leaves.[4]
    • The female has a small pumpkin at the base and no pollen inside the flower. To achieve the strongest female plant, you can break off the first female flower and wait for the second or third to grow (the strongest females grow when the vines are roughly 10 feet long, or longer.)
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    • The male will have a stamen inside the flower. The stamen will be covered in pollen. These male flowers generally show up before the female flowers do.
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    Pull the petal from the male blossom. Only do this when a female flower grows from the largest and healthiest vine. Pulling the petal will help to expose the pollen needed for pollination. Rub the pollen stamen on the blossom of the female flower. This step is most successful if completed before the middle of July. This will ensure that the pumpkin has ample time for growth.

Method 4
Growing Your Gigantic Pumpkin

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    Pick your prize pumpkin. The largest pumpkins balloon out from the vine. Vines generally have two to three pumpkins. Once your pumpkins have reached the size of a softball, select the one on a vine that looks the most promising. You will have to cut out the others as they will steal nutrients from the prize pumpkin.[5]
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    Tear out the roots that are close to the pumpkin. Pumpkin vines grow roots at every leaf. Tearing out the roots nearest to the pumpkin will allow the pumpkin a bit of wiggle room. If the vine is held down by the roots near the pumpkin, the pumpkin might accidentally tear itself away from the vine as it grows massive. This would effectively end any more growth.
    • Train vines away from the pumpkin. While growing, the pumpkin could accidentally crush the vines near it.
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    Pinch off the ends and side shoots. Only do this when the primary vine has reached 20 feet (6.1 m) in length. Pinching off the ends and side shoots will guarantee that the vine’s nutrients will go to your pumpkin.
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    Give each plant 15 to 20 gallons (56.8 to 75.7 L) of water twice a week. Only do this if it is a dry season. Water in the evening because pumpkins do most of their growing at night. Try to avoid getting water on the leaves because wet leaves are more susceptible to disease.[6]
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    Harvest your pumpkins. Your pumpkins will be ready to harvest when they are a solid, deep color (and they are gigantic!) The rind should be hard. The vines will usually be dying back at this time.[7]

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Quality pumpkin seeds
  • Method for germination
  • Clear tent
  • Pruning sheers

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables