Growing giant pumpkins is fun for the whole family. Everyone will love watching the pumpkins grow larger and larger just as much as carving and eating them. Who knows…maybe you can even win a pumpkin growing contest!
Pumpkins are easy to grow in full sun, but they need a lot of room and well-drained, fertile soil to become giants.
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Giant pumpkins are typically grown for Halloween and tend to come from specific varieties of giant pumpkin seed that have the potential to grow large. Since pumpkins take up to 120 days to mature, it's best to wait until June to plant the seeds if you want them for that time of year.
Giant pumpkins also need room to grow, and lots of it. Successful giant pumpkin growers often give each plant up to 2,500 square feet of growing space. You can still grow nice-sized pumpkins with less, but the more room you can give them, the bigger they’ll grow.
They can be planted as soon as the soil has warmed if you want to harvest early. Pumpkins are easily grown from seeds sown directly in the ground (as long as they are planted after all danger of frost has passed), but plant them in very well-composted soil to give these hungry plants the nutrients they need.
Add organic garden fertilizer monthly to keep them well-fed.
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Pumpkins will do best if they are placed in an area that gets full sun and shelter from wind.
Since you are shooting for a giant, do all you can from the beginning to focus nutrients into no more than a few pumpkins. Keep the pumpkin patch well-weeded, and prune any vine “off-shoots” and smaller pumpkins in order to keep nutrients focused on your largest pumpkin potentials. If you’re shooting for just one monster, trim off all pumpkins except the largest after the remaining few pumpkins are about a foot and a half (46 cm) in diameter.
Keep pumpkins well-watered throughout their growth without soaking the soil, but try to keep the leaves dry in order to prevent fungal disease. This may be difficult given the sprawling nature of the vines, so water in the morning to give leaves the chance to dry out during the day.
As your pumpkins grow, it may be necessary to place a plate or layer of straw underneath them so that the bottoms do not rot.
Pumpkins should be harvested when they have reached their full size and final color and have a hollow sound when thumped. Leave a little of the stem on the pumpkin when cutting them off, and be sure to harvest all pumpkins before the first frost.
If you don't plan to use the pumpkins right away, leave them in the sun for a few days so that the skins can harden before storing.
Whole pumpkins can be stored in a cool dry place for several months as long as air can circulate around them. Pumpkins can be frozen after being boiled or baked until tender.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Giant Pumpkins. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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