Giant Pumpkins

Another great import from the East Coast, other than myself, is the subject of this week’s Garden plant of the week. Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, a particular strain of pumpkin known for its size. Started in Windsor, Nova Scotia (My home town) by Howard Dill, the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin has become standard around the world at competitions and as an oddity at agricultural fairs. The current world record is 2624 pounds, we don’t expect something that size here, but a few hundred pounds should be possible.

Giant pumpkins are like regular pumpkins, but they can get much more substantial. They require a good healthy soil in which to grow, a larger area in which to create vines and leaves to support the giant fruit, and lots of water to help feed the giants.
Atlantic Giants need to be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost of spring and should be transplanted outside only when the temperature averages 15 degrees Celsius (60F). You can plant outside sooner with the use of mini-greenhouse, hoop house or cold frame to shield and warm up the plant for growth.

To prepare an area, build up a soil mound 3-5 feet in diameter and a foot or so high. The mound should be double dug at least two feet down with loose soil as well. Try to use fertile organic soil in your hill and a couple of layers of compost and a good sprinkling of 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed in. The hill should be surrounded by a 20 to 25 of area for the vines to spread. The healthier the vines and the more leaves there are, the more energy will be available to grow the pumpkin.
Weeds should be kept clear fo the main grow mound until the main pumpkin plant shades them out. Vines can be trained and redirected, try not to crowd them as crowded, wet leaves will lead to disease.

Once a good healthy pumpkin or two starts to grow from an individual vine, you should start clipping the new flowers on that vine. This will allow the plant to put all its energy into growing the one pumpkin for maximum size. Vines should only have one growing pumpkin to maximize growth.

Water regularly in the morning at ground/plant level, spraying water on the leaves will invite powdery mildew and other potential diseases.

When your pumpkin starts getting large, placing a board or something underneath it will help keep it from rotting out from the ground.

Your pumpkin should be harvested before the first frost when it turns orange in September and entered into the Nipigon – Red Rock Horticultural Society Giant Pumpkin contest. Details and seeds for the competition will be available soon!

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Gardening Quick Links

Hodge Podge Garden
Stir fry Garden
Three Sisters (Corn, Pole Beans and Squash/Pumpkin)

The plants listed here are available at the physical shop located with the Nipigon River Bait Shop at 21 Second Street in Nipigon Ontario. Limited quantities are available, and all seeds are fresh and have been tested to grow here in NW Ontario.


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