This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
If you ask 10 competitive pumpkin growers how to grow a giant pumpkin, you're likely to get 10 different answers. It seems everyone has his own way of coaxing the most weight out of these giants. But there is a thread of consistency that runs throughout all the instructions, and adhering to four basic tenets will get you well on your way. Above all else, you need good seed, good soil, hard work and good luck.
GOOD SEED - If you want to grow a world-record pumpkin, you can forget about every variety of pumpkin out there except Howard Dill's patented Atlantic Giant. Since 1979, no other pumpkin variety has been a world champion.
GOOD SOIL - Pumpkins are large consumers of all the major plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), as well as many minor nutrients like calcium and magnesium and other trace elements. Try to find out what your soil conditions are currently, and consult your local County agencies to see if they offer soil testing. A soil test will tell you the amount of soil nutrients your garden contains and provide corrective action to balance your soil for planting. Follow what they say and amend your soil with the compost or fertilizer of your choice. Of course there are many types of products to amend your soil,
A key for pumpkin growth is soil well amended with organic matter. In the fall or early spring, add two to ten yards per plant of compost and composted manures. Cow and horse manures are best. Use chicken manure only in the fall. The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.
HARD WORK - If you just throw some seeds into ground and water them every so often then chances are you aren't going to grow anything decent. Proper care of your plant and pumpkin will greatly increase your chances of growing a big one.
GOOD LUCK - If you can grow a good vegetable garden, you have the skill to grow a world-record pumpkin. I've seen newcomers grow 700-pound pumpkins their first year with good seed, some help from an experienced grower and a lot of luck. With the right preparation and strategy now and in the spring next year you might just be a contender.
WATERING - Giant Pumpkins require approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches per week. The amount of water required can vary greatly depending on soil type, temperature, humidity, time of year, etc. Once you get a feel for your patch you can better adjust to your own watering needs. But many growers need a good starting place. To cover a 1000 square foot garden evenly with 1 inch of water it takes 623 gallons. (1 gallon = 231 cubic inches) That's a lot more than many growers might think. This is 89 gallons per day, or 178 gallons every other day. For 1 ½ inches of water per week it takes 934.5 gallons per week, or 133.5 gallons per day, or 167 gallons every other day.
KEEPING TRACK - Measure your pumpkins at least weekly. Gains in circumference can average four to six inches in a 24 hour period. Measure the circumference of your pumpkins first parallel to the ground around the entire pumpkin, from blossom end to stem. Next, measure over the top in both directions: from ground to ground along the axis from stem to blossom end, then perpendicular to the stem-blossom-end axis. Add these together to obtain a, Over the Top, OTT measurement. Look up the OTT on OTT vs. Weight Table to find your estimated weight.
Additional information can be found at the following website http://www.backyardgardener.com/secret.html