Did you know that it is possible to grow a giant pumpkin that weighs more than you do? It’s fun and can be a great way to impress your friends and neighbors with your gardening skills. Keep reading to learn how you can get started growing huge pumpkins of your own.
How Big Do Giant Pumpkins Really Get?
Giant pumpkins can be huge. In 2010 a new giant pumpkin world record was set at 1810.5 pounds. There are also state records for these huge pumpkins. The largest pumpkin on record in Arkansas weighed 534 pounds. In Maryland, the largest pumpkin weighed 713.5 pounds. In Wyoming the record sits at 1011 pounds. It is possible to grow giant pumpkins in every state in the United States and in many countries across the world. Growing these huge pumpkins isn’t simple, but it is possible with the right knowledge and a little bit of effort.
Choosing Your Seed
One of the most difficult parts of growing a giant pumpkin is choosing the right type of seed. If you want to achieve huge results you have to choose seed that can support this. All of the nurturing in the world isn’t going to make it possible to grow a thousand-pound pumpkin from a package of miniature pie pumpkin seeds. Giant pumpkins come from the right seeds.
One great way to find proven seeds is to join a local pumpkin growing association. These groups can also provide you with valuable tips and assistance as you plant and cultivate your pumpkin. There may not be an association in every area, but if you do have one available this can be a great resource for high quality giant pumpkin seeds.
Another great place to find these seeds are at various online nurseries and seed companies. One of the best varieties known for producing record-breaking pumpkins is Dill’s Atlantic Giants.
University of Arkansas- Dill’s Atlantic Giants Plant Information
Backyard Gardener- FAQ about Atlantic Giants
Once you have your seeds it is time to start getting ready to plant. Many prize-winning pumpkin growers find that soil testing is a great way to determine where their soil currently is so that they can decide how it needs to be prepared for a great harvest. When your soil is tested you will receive a report that informs you of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels in your soil. Use these to amend your soil with nutrients, compost, manure and other soil supplements.
Giant pumpkins take a long time to get to their impressive size so it is important to start your planting early. In many areas you will need to start your seeds indoors before you transplant them outside. Once your seeds have started and been transferred outside you will still need to protect them from late season frosts, so consider using cold frames.
The Pumpkin Patch- How to Grow Atlantic Giant Pumpkins
Ohio State University- Growing Giant Pumpkins in the Home Garden
The Three Minute Gardener- How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin
Fertilizing and Watering
Fertilizing is important during the entire growing season. You should start using a fertilizer with a high concentration of phosphorus since this will encourage root growth and then over time transition to a more nitrogen-based fertilizer. Once the fruit starts to develop you will then switch to a high potassium fertilizer since this helps the fruit to grow.
Consistent watering is also important, especially if you live in a location where there isn’t enough rainfall. Pumpkin plants tend to have a shallow root system so they will need at least 1 inch of water per week.
Emily’s Garden- Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer Tips
Pumpkin Nook- Fertilizers and Nutrients for Pumpkins
Encouraging Pumpkin Growth
Once your pumpkins develop blooms you will need to make sure that the blossoms are pollinated. You can let this happen naturally, although many giant pumpkin cultivators prefer to pollinate by hand to ensure that the bloom is pollinated using the best pollen for growing large pumpkins.
You will also need to carefully position the vines of each pumpkin so that they are perpendicular to the fruit to ensure that the vine will still be able to support the pumpkin once large sizes are achieved. Since each pumpkin takes nutrients from the vine, choose one of the largest looking pumpkins and remove the rest of the fruit so that the vine can focus all of its energy and nutrients to producing a large pumpkin.
Backyard Gardener- 10 Steps to a Giant Pumpkin
Weighing, Measuring and Entering Competitions
If you do grow an especially large pumpkin, you will want to determine its weight. It can be difficult to physically weigh your pumpkin since it will be so heavy. You may want to enter it in a contest. Remember that each contest has specific guidelines and entry regulations, so make sure that you understand the requirements for entering. Local pumpkin groups will know of the best contests near you. Here is a great link that you can use to calculate your pumpkin’s weight using its measurements:
The Pumpkin Patch- Weight Estimator Chart
Pumpkin Nook- 2010 Contest Listings
Pumpkin Patches and More- State by State Listing of 2010 Competitions
There is a lot of help out there for those that are interested in growing giant pumpkins. Find a local pumpkin growing group or check out some of these links for more information about pumpkin growing forums, groups and organizations. We have included links to some local societies. You can find others in your area by doing a search with your state name the phrase “Pumpkin Growers.”
BigPumkins.com- Pumpkin Message Board and Online Community
Giant Pumpkins.com- Giant Pumpkin Forum
Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association- Welcome Site
Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers- Society Information
Illinois Giant Pumpkin Growers Association- Chapter Information
So what are you waiting for? Get started on your giant pumpkin today! We hope our Ultimate Guide series got you off to a great start.