An increasingly popular activity world wide is growing giant vegetables, particularly a giant pumpkin.
Below I've outlined some basic steps to get you started growing your first giant pumpkin.
Soil Preparation: Your target pH will be between 6.5 and 6.8. Make subtle adjustments by adding sulfur or lime. Sulfur will lower the pH and lime will help raise it. Use composted manure mixed with your soil.
Seed Preparation: Start your seed indoors with a soil temperature of about 90 degrees F. Do this approximately a month before last frost. Transplant to the Garden: Gently transfer the plant to the garden about a week after germination.
Seed Protection: Use a homemade mini-greenhouse to protect plants from frost and cold winds. Use a fence to protect the plants from wind after they out grow their new greenhouse home.
Flower Pollination: Hand pollination is necessary to get a jump start with your giant pumpkin. A little over 2 months after starting your seed you should see female flowers beginning to appear. The females will have a tiny pumpkin at their base. Choose a male flower (one without the tiny pumpkin) and pick it and remove the flower petals from the outside of it. Use the male to gently swab the female to begin the process.
Early pollination is key because the pumpkins have the ability to gain between 25 and 30 pounds a day.
Adjust the Pumpkin Position: Try to keep the stem of the pumpkin at a 90 degree angle to the vine. Just make gradual gentle adjustments to its position until it's at the desired angle from the vine. The stems are very fragile at this stage so be extra cautious.
Choose a Pumpkin: Leaving all the pumpkins on the vine is sharing nutrients. You want to allow one or two pumpkins to get as many nutrients as possible by removing the rest, so choose the pumpkin or pumpkins that are growing the quickest.
Expert tip: Pumpkins that are tall and round tend to grow the biggest. Look out for pumpkins of that nature.
Vine Pruning: Once a main vine has reached a dozen feet beyond your pumpkin, it's time to prune it. Side vines should be no longer than 8 or 9 feet. To prevent water loss, burying the ends that have been pruned is a good idea.
Fertilization: A 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer formula is ideal for your pumpkins to maintain healthy growth. Never over-fertilize as pumpkins have and will explode from too rapid growth.
Of course, you need some proven seeds that are bred with the genetics to grow the big pumpkins. Also, a decent book from a giant vegetable growing professional will come in handy for specifics about insects, soil, pH, determining the weight of the pumpkin and any other issue you may run into, but the basics above should get you on the right track. Best of luck to you.
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