Soil Preparation is the key for any type of plant growth. We're not
growing a Xeriscape fruit. These pumpkins require the correct soil medium to
grow to a healthy prize winning pumpkin. Try to find out what your soil
conditions are currently, and consult your local County agencies for soil
testing. The soil test will provide the amount of soil nutrients your garden
contains and provide corrective action to balance your soil for planting.
The County or State will provide the test results which is
defined as the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer
needed to correct deficiencies; these percentages are the three numbers found
on most fertilizers bags.. 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, I just added chicken manure. Some people plant a
cover crop in the winter and amend the soil with a additional manure in the to
give that extra punch. Now be sure to till your compost in well to provide a
good planting medium.
|Depth of Coverage
||At 12 in.
||At 18 in.
||Amount of Amendment
| Percent of Soil
||For 12 in.
|| For 18 in.
Here is some additional data on providing compost to your
soil. Remember, ever garden can use a good compost
Selecting a good genetic seed increases your chances in growing a large pumpkin. To
get good seeds, join a local Pumpkin grower
association or you can order these seeds from Howard Dill or P & P SEED CO.
A pot and potting soil are required if you plan on starting your seeds
indoor. I created a hot house in my garage, which I've started my plants. I
recommend buying a high quality potting medium which can be purchased at your
local nursery store. Don't waste your time on buying the cheap stuff. Do it
correctly and "buy a quality product". Seed germinate takes about seven days if
the a soil surface temperature is around 80É F. This is not a
requirement, but it is my rule of thumb. Plant the seed in a large Jiffy pot
with a hole on the bottom or plant it in a gallon pot to be transplanted in the
near future. I'm lazy and I use a four inch pot. The experts says not the let
the pumpkin roots get bounded within the pot but what do they know?. Of
course , I have only grown and 468 pounder which is a pickling fruit.
If you plan on planting your seed directly outside, review these
Early season plant care and protection should be provide to your seedling
prior to planting outside. Now your ready to plant outside but the problem is
the last frost is a month away. To resolve this, build a cold frame to protect
your seedlings. Some people build huge structures and others build a standard
4'x4'x4' enclosure. I did this last year, but the problem was the cold frame
was not heated. So this year I plan on providing a electrical heater to keep
the soil and air temp above normal. If I can, maybe around 65 degrees plus.
Before you plant the seed on the mound, lay down a sheet of
black plastic or some sort of material to retain the heat around your seedling.
If you use plastic, place a drip hose under the plastic so it is between the
soil and plastic to provide water to the roots. Secure your thermal barrier to
retain the heat loss. Don't forget to provide a hole for you seedling.
Plant your seedling in the elevated mound of soil in your
cold frame. This will provide the most heat for the buck. I was just reading a
book on heat transfer within soils and they recommended . . . . . It was boring
even for an engineer.
Early season fertilizing and watering is recommend to provide superior plant
growth prior to pollination. The recommend liquid solid ratio is 9-35-15. The
first stage of fertilizing should be based on providing phosphorous for root
growth, gradually shifting to more balanced formulation with more nitrogen. As
time progresses, prior to setting the fruit switch to higher potassium
formulation for development of the set fruit. The plant growth take place for
around 60 days.
Mounding soil over the vine to crate a double root system is something I did
not do last year. This is a must to get that huge hummer. Take your shovel an
place the dirt over the vine. It is recommended to use the surrounding soil
versus different types of medium. Most of the prized pumpkins are at least 10
feet from the main root tap. So pile it on.
female plant at least 10 feet from the main root tap. Some growers do
not even pollinate until there is at least 800 leaves on the plant. I
cant wait that long. I want to see it grow. Don't forget, timing is important
for pollination. Look at those vital statistic for your local grower or zone
and see when they pollinated.
Back to selecting a female . . . . plant. I assume you know
the difference between a male and female pumpkin. If not, the female has the
fruit under the flower and the male is long slender stem with a flower on top.
Now we have discussed the difference, find a female plant with the correct
angle on the vine and with five plus segments.
I donšt why the angle is important but they say the
position of the flower on the vine does effect the selection process. A good
female candidate should have a stem angle which is almost 90É
(perpendicular) to the vine. If the vine versus the female plant is acute, the
stem will be more likely to be damage as the pumpkin grows. If you want, you
could modify the angle with a little TLC.
Segments are the cavities which contain the seeds. When you
look inside the flower, you will see the segments. The female flower is
characterized by the multi-segment stigma located in the interior of the
Pollinating the blossoms can be done two ways.
The primary method is described in Hand-Polli nating Pumpkin Plants. Did you
read this link? Go back and read it or this will not make any sense. I prefer
to use a paint brush with camel hair. Why? This is a standard method in the
horticultural world. It nice to see the pollen on the brush versus rubbing the
male stamen on the female stigma. How about some more information on
pollinating at The Pollination Scene.
program is required during this transition from vine growth to fruit.
During the fruit growth stage switch from the balanced fertilizer to a
formulations which contains a high percentage of potassium. If you us a water
soluble fertilizer use a ratio of 1-1-2 or 1-1-3 for optimal growth.
positioning is required for your main and secondary vines. Positioning
the vines will provide a proper use of your growing area and reduce vine
Make sure the vine is perpendicular to the fruit. As the
pumpkin grows, the shoulders will extend forward, touching the vine. . So if
the pumpkin grows, the vine will go upward and undue stress will be provided to
the vine. This can be eliminated by positioning the vines early so they go away
from the pumpkin. Make a "U" shape or give it some slack. Think Ahead!
Stem stress is very common in pumpkins over 200 lbs. In the Growing Giant Pumpkins manual, (Pumkinguy@aol.com) its goes into depth
on stem stress but basically most people cut off the tap root at the pumpkin
and a couple on either side of the pumpkin. This allows the vine to raise off
the ground as the pumpkin grows tall. You can also have trouble with the
shoulders of the pumpkin growing so large that they push against the vine and
split it off that way too. When the pumpkin is about the size of a basketball
you can slowly move the pumpkin perpendicular to the vine. This should be done
in small steps over a period of a week or you will snap it off. There is no
warning when the pumpkin is about to crack off so go slow and don't move it
much each day. Also if the fruit sets on the left side of the vine, you can
train the vine to the right which gives the shoulders more room. Side vines can
also wrap around the large pumpkin and cause splits. Train the side vines away
from the area where the pumpkin will eventually be so there is room.
Daily measurements and selection is required to assist you in your final choice (if luck
is on your side). So what is this all about? You now have several fruits on
your vines and you need to make a decision on which fruit to select for the
final pumpkin. So, go out there and measure the circumference of each pumpkin
daily and keep records. From your data, you are able to make that final
decision for your prize winning pumpkin.
But is this the correct decision by understanding growth
patterns or should you be concerned about the texture of the skin? Does that
big one have a nice shinny gloss or is it flat?
Who knows, its your choice.
Shade protection should be provide to prevent cracks. See the vital statistics and
noticed how many big ones had shade protection. Build a frame around your
pumpkin without stepping on any vines. Some growers us a product called ReMay.
You should be able to find this at your local Nursery.
Well, I hope this helps. Keep in touch and tell me how your
pumpkin is growing.