Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.In cool climates, warm the soil a week before planting by covering it with a piece of black plastic.It is best to use a drip system or soaker hose to directly water soil at the base of vines so as to avoid wetting foliage.Wet foliage is more susceptible to fungus, such as powdery mildew, which can slowly kill all the leaves on a vine.Some gardeners promote branching to get more pumpkins by pinching the tips out of main vines when they reach about 2 feet long.You can also increase the yield on a vine by removing all female flowers (these have a small swelling at the base of the bloom) for the first 3 weeks.These practices may produce a sturdier vine that can set more, albeit smaller, pumpkins during the growing season if you have good soil, sun, and moisture. .
How to Grow a (Record-Setting?) Giant Pumpkin
Every fall, thousands of backyard gardeners haul an enormous harvest to county and state fairs around the country.The bar gets higher almost every year – the 1,000-pound mark was first breached around the turn of the millennium; the current world-record pumpkin weighed in at 2,323.7 pounds, grown by a German gardener in 2014.But that shouldn’t deter you from seeing how big of a pumpkin you can grow just for the fun of it, not to mention the bragging rights you’ll accrue.It’s a race to provide the longest possible growing season and funnel as much nutrients and water as possible into a single pumpkin, all while making sure there are no mishaps with pests, disease, or errant kids, pets, or livestock trampling the plant.Three hundred- to 500-pound specimens are routinely grown with this variety, but you still have to work at it – growing a giant pumpkin requires in-depth horticultural knowledge, a daily dose of TLC for the plant, and, well, a lot of luck.In late winter/early spring, start the pumpkin seeds in peat pots about a month before the average date of last frost in your area.Cover the seedling with a cold frame to protect it from late frosts and to warm up the ground, which encourages the pumpkin plant to start growing.If the growing area is exposed to wind, install a low fence around the pumpkin plant to prevent leaf damage and desiccation.After the vine’s 10 feet long, allow several flowers to develop into pumpkins, but remove all but the largest fruit after several weeks of growth.If you can keep up the TLC regime until the first frost of fall (when the leaves will turn brown and die), you should end up with a massive pumpkin.Most importantly, don’t let all that food go to waste – the giant varieties are suitable for soups, pies, muffins, and any other recipe calling for pumpkin. .
How to Grow Great Pumpkins
Growing pumpkins can be addictive.Row spacing typically ranges from 6 to 10 feet, and hills are usually spaced at least 3 feet apart.Fertilize heavily only in the beginning.Apply it before the vines begin to run, and to provide the nutrients needed for promoting leaf, root and vine growth.Phosphorus is important for root growth, flowering, and fruit set.To tell male and female flowers apart, look at the spot where the stem attaches to the blossom.To encourage larger fruits, the first two or three female flowers can be removed before fruit set to allow the plants to develop more leaf surface.A single fruit can be allowed to develop, then subsequent female flowers can be picked off after the first fruit has set.Pumpkins develop on the vine in a variety of positions, and may be repositioned to produce fruits that are more attractive for carving.How and when you harvest is important.Because a pumpkin will rot quickly if its stem breaks off at the base, always lift with the palms of your hands instead of grabbing the stem. .
How to grow pumpkins: 7 tips
Pumpkins are one of fall’s staples, right alongside apples and the changing color of leaves.The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests pinching off the ends of vines after several pumpkins have formed on each one.Just like pinching the ends of vines, pruning will help to direct energy on the existing pumpkins.Purdue University Cooperative Service Extension recommends using black plastic mulch, which can be installed either a couple weeks before planting or even just a few days before.If you choose not to apply mulch, you may have to use a hoe to carefully remove weeds from your pumpkin patch.Purdue University Cooperative Service Extension recommends planting pumpkins in soil with a pH of 7.0.Seeds should be planted on small hills, but vines will quickly sprawl dozens of feet, even climbing fences like a trellis if the fences are in the path of the growing vines.The following planting instructions for semi-bush, bush and miniature pumpkins are adapted from the University of Illinois Extension:.Penn State University Extension explains how to manage powdery mildew so that its effects are minimized.Purdue University Extension offers pointers for control measures and fungicides. .
How to Grow Your Own Pumpkins
A good, solid year of preparation is just what the soil needs to ensure the productivity of your patch.You should plan to space the mounds about four to eight feet apart, and on average you’ll be able to fit two or three plants per mound, depending on the cultivar that you select.Start with finding a location where you can let your vines grow with abandon – and keep in mind that you can get creative with it.Start with digging a hole about 12 inches deep by 12 inches wide.By prepping this mound six months to a year before you plant, you’ll be ready to plop those seeds in and get right to growing when planting season arrives.I promise, your Future Gardening Self will thank your Past Gardening Self for doing this work ahead of time.Seed Saving and Starting.Another reason why we made those mounds when we were setting up our patch for growing was to increase the temperature of the soil for our seeds.It’s best to plant seeds directly into the soil rather than trying to start them indoors.Plant the seeds about an inch deep in the mounds.How to Grow.Keep them well watered, because they really can’t stand drying out!Avoid digging through the soil if you can, to minimize the risk of damaging your pumpkins.Considering how large their fruit is typically, it’s not hard to see why they’re so hungry!The important thing to keep in mind is that we are fertilizing with a balanced mix at planting time, and fertilizing for strong blooms and healthy plants while they grow and mature, while trying to keep a check on producing too much green growth.Espoma Garden-tone Herb and Vegetable Food I generally favor using anything from the Espoma product line, and their all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, available at Nature Hills Nursery, is good to get the ball rolling for your first round of fertilizing at planting time.Following that, through the rest of the season we want to fertilize once a month, ideally using a liquid or water soluble fertilizer so the plants can absorb the nutrients immediately.As a bonus it’ll work on most other vegetables in the garden, too.Most pumpkin plants take between 75 and 100 growing days to produce fruit.Remember, you’ll want to get your seeds started no later than late May in most cases.If you’re looking specifically for eating pumpkins to make puree and pie filling, you can read more about some of our top picks.I have noticed minimal herbivore damage on my pumpkins, but your garden might be different.A fence works best to keep deer away, but repellants can do the trick in a pinch.Rabbits have been the least of my concerns in the pumpkin patch, but if your garden has a rabbit problem, it’s time to bust out the humane traps, repellents, or a good old fence to keep them out.From mice, moles, and rats to squirrels and chipmunks, and their foul-tempered cousins – known as woodchucks or groundhogs – with their bottomless appetites, these critters can cause a lot of damage to a garden.For the rodents that I find to be at least a bit more cute than the mice, you may still have a problem on your hands.I’m talking about squirrels and chipmunks, and you’ll find these seed lovers destroying your fruit to harvest and eat the seeds.Learn more about using Bt to control insects here.Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that attacks many different types of plants during periods of warm and dry weather.For more information on preventing and treating diseases in pumpkins, read our guide (coming soon! .
How to Grow Pumpkins
I left Gardener’s Supply in 2017 to get a master’s degree in ecological landscape design from the Conway School.In that role, I maintained dozens of gardens and planted thousands of perennials, shrubs, and trees.Although some pumpkins grow on long vines that extend more than 20 feet, there are compact varieties that fit nicely in smaller gardens.Today, you can find pumpkins that are yellow, white, blue-gray, green-striped — even oddballs like Black Futsu, a 3 to 5-pounder with knobby skin.If you're planting in a raised bed or garden, choose a spot where vines have room to ramble.For instance, if the variety you're considering needs 110 days to mature, make sure you have enough time between your average first and last frost dates.At planting time, it is covered with garden fabric to protect the seedling against cucumber beetles.Gwenael Engelskirchen, who tests new varieties for High Mowing Seeds, prefers to start them inside — about three weeks before ideal outdoor planting weather arrives."By putting a healthy transplant (instead of a seed) into the ground, you are further along in your growing and have that much more insurance that you'll get a successful crop.".If grown indoors too long — or in too large a pot — the plants will be unwieldy and difficult to transplant."Choose varieties that are resistant to mildew and plant outdoors as early as you can, depending on weather.".More information on pumpkin pests and diseases: Vegetable MD Online, Cornell Cooperative Extension.Make contact with your county cooperative extension service, where there are gardeners who can tell you which varieties are known to perform well in your area — and what pests and diseases to watch for. .
Growing Giant Pumpkins in the Home Garden
A fairy tale, yes, but growers of giant squash, Cucurbita maxima, are growing pumpkins that are approaching the size of small cars.If you are a first-time grower, it doesn’t really matter where you get your seeds if you are planting Atlantic Giant.Growers trade and sell seeds from their giant fruits.1016 Reeb—the female plant that was planted to begin with.Pumpkins prefer long hours of sunlight, so select your garden site accordingly.Always apply lime and fertilizers based on soil test recommendations.In the spring, granular fertilizers should be applied as a broadcast application over the soil surface and incorporated into the soil 4 to 6 inches deep a few days ahead of setting out your transplants.Giant pumpkin vines require approximately 2 pounds nitrogen (N), 3 pounds phosphorous (P 2 O 2 ) and 6 pounds potash (K 2 O) per 1,000 square feet of growing space.A foliar feeding or fertigation program should be started after pollination and fruit set have occurred.Growing giant pumpkins requires an early start.Plastic mulches are very effective for controlling weeds.The plastic can be installed when the soil is in good planting condition, any time from a few days to two to three weeks before planting.If you do not use plastic, pumpkins will benefit from organic mulches applied in the summer after the soil has warmed.Apply once or twice during the early growing season.Windbreaks are necessary to protect young plants from being "wind whipped" prior to becoming fully rooted.An insect and disease control program must be initiated at transplanting.Bacterial diseases like angular leaf spot and bacterial leaf spot are favored by wet weather.For general pesticide recommendations to control insects and diseases, check with your local Extension educator for current rates and products.You may also refer to the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (Bulletin 948) available at extensionpubs.osu.edu or Homeowner's Guide to Fungicides (University of Kentucky Fact Sheet PPFS-GEN-07).Hand pollination allows for a more controlled genetic cross.On main vine pollinations, most fruit are grown around 15 feet down the main vine from the root stump.This will allow the vine to easily move upward as the pumpkin grows.Pumpkins round in shape are difficult to rotate without damaging the stem.To protect the pumpkin from direct sunlight, construct a shade out of burlap or other lightweight material.Giant pumpkins approaching 700 pounds will need a different type of technique to move and transport them.Original author: David Mangione, Pickaway County, Ohio State University Extension. .