Tips and Tricks for Growing Huge Atlantic Giant Pumpkins
Tips and Tricks for Growing Huge Atlantic Giant Pumpkins
Growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins can be a rewarding and fun experience, especially for gardeners with shorter growing seasons. In this article, we’ll explore specific tips, tricks, and advice for starting, growing, and maximizing yields of these massive pumpkins, even if you have a shorter growing season with a last frost date of June 7 and a first frost date of September 7.
Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, available through myBackyard.ca, are from Parent pumpkins in access of 1000 lbs. Locally they have been grown with minimal effort/space up to 200lbs.
Select the Right Seeds and Prepare Your Soil
First and foremost, choose high-quality seeds from a reputable source. Next, look for seeds bred explicitly for size, such as those from award-winning pumpkins. By starting with the right seeds, you’ll have a higher chance of growing enormous pumpkins.
Soil preparation is essential for these giants. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Amend the soil with lots of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to improve drainage and increase nutrient levels. Test your soil’s pH, and aim for a slightly acidic level of 6.0-6.5. If necessary, adjust the pH with lime or sulfur.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
Since your growing season is limited, start your seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before your last frost date. This will give your seedlings a head start, ensuring they have enough time to grow and produce before the first frost arrives. Use peat pots or biodegradable containers to avoid transplant shock when moving them outdoors.
For a genuinely massive plant, you can plant 6-8 weeks before the last frost in Growing bags. In addition, growing bags allow for easy transplant, and plants will not be root bound. Typically I transplant fully grown Giant Pumpkins from 5-gallon Grow bags.
Timing and Transplanting
Once your seedlings have two sets of true leaves and the risk of frost has passed, it’s time to transplant them outdoors. First, harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for a week. Then, plant them in the amended soil, leaving ample space (at least 8-10 feet) between each plant for growth. The warmer the soil when transplanted, the better.
Pruning and Training for Maximum Growth
One of the secrets to growing enormous pumpkins is pruning and training. To focus the plant’s energy on one or two fruits, remove all but the healthiest fruit once they reach the size of a softball. Prune away excess leaves and secondary vines, ensuring the main vine remains intact.
Training the vine is essential for preventing breakage and encouraging growth. Gently guide the vine in a circular pattern around the pumpkin. This will help distribute the weight and reduce stress on the vine as the pumpkin grows.
Proper Watering and Fertilizing
Watering is crucial for Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, as they require consistent moisture. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week, using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to disease.
A Giant pumpkin requires a consistent water supply to support its rapid growth. While the exact amount of water per day can vary depending on factors such as the size of the pumpkin, the plant’s growth stage, and the local climate, a general guideline is to provide your pumpkin with about 1-2 inches of water per week. Giants can put on 1-5 pounds a day.
This translates to approximately 62-124 gallons of water per week for every 100 square feet of garden space. Daily, this means your Giant pumpkin would need around 9-18 gallons of water per 100 square feet or, at minimum, 5 gallons per plant. Remember that these numbers are approximate, and you may need to adjust the amount based on your specific growing conditions.
It’s essential to monitor the soil moisture regularly and adjust your watering schedule as needed. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water slowly and directly to the root zone, which helps conserve water and reduce the risk of fungal diseases caused by wet foliage. During particularly hot or dry periods, you may need to increase the frequency or amount of water to keep your Giant pumpkin well-hydrated and thriving.
Fertilizing your pumpkins is essential for maximum growth. Use a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) during the vegetative growth stage. Then, as the pumpkins grow, switch to a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus and potassium content to support fruit development.
Pest and Disease Control
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, as they can significantly impact your pumpkin’s growth. Common issues include powdery mildew, squash bugs, and vine borers. Use organic or chemical controls as needed, always following label instructions.
Expert Techniques for Growing Giant Pumpkins
Burying Vine Nodes for Additional Root Growth
One of the strategies often employed by giant pumpkin experts is burying vine nodes along the primary and secondary vines. This technique encourages the formation of new roots at each node, providing the pumpkin with additional nutrients and water, ultimately supporting its massive growth.
NOTE: This works for all vining squash and pumpkin varieties.
To bury the vine nodes, follow these steps:
- Identify the nodes along the primary and secondary vines as the vine grows. Nodes are the points where leaves and tendrils emerge from the vine.
- Using a trowel or your hands, gently dig a shallow trench around each node, taking care not to damage the vine.
- Carefully bend the vine into the trench, ensuring the node is in contact with the soil. Be cautious not to snap the vine while bending it.
- Cover the node with compost rich soil, leaving the leaves and tendrils exposed. The buried node will develop new roots, helping to anchor the plant and provide additional nutrients and moisture.
By burying vine nodes, you can further increase your pumpkin’s size and overall health, giving you an edge in the competitive world of giant pumpkin growing.
Providing Support for Your Growing Giant
As your Atlantic Giant Pumpkin grows, it’s essential to provide support to prevent damage or detachment from the vine. Some growers use a combination of padding, slings, and supports to cradle the pumpkin and evenly distribute its weight.
Here’s how you can support your growing Giant:
- Place a piece of foam, carpet, or straw under the pumpkin to provide cushioning and protect it from damp soil, which can cause rot.
- As the pumpkin grows, you may need to create a sling to help support its weight. Use a sturdy fabric, such as a tarp or heavy-duty netting, and carefully wrap it around the pumpkin.
- Secure the sling to sturdy stakes or a frame, ensuring the support system is strong enough to handle the pumpkin’s increasing weight. Regularly adjust the sling as the pumpkin grows, ensuring it remains well-supported.
Leaf Pruning for Better Sunlight Exposure
Although it may seem counterintuitive, selectively pruning some leaves can improve sunlight exposure and increase airflow around the pumpkin. This can help prevent diseases and ensure the pumpkin gets adequate sunlight for photosynthesis. However, be cautious not to remove too many leaves, as this can hinder the plant’s overall health and growth.
Use Epsom Salt to Boost Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is essential for plant health, as it plays a crucial role in photosynthesis. Sprinkling Epsom salt around the base of your pumpkin plant can provide a readily available source of magnesium, which may result in more robust growth and potentially larger pumpkins. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water and apply it to the soil every 2-4 weeks.
Employ Companion Planting
Companion planting can help deter pests, improve soil health, and even enhance the growth of your Atlantic Giant Pumpkin. Some suitable companion plants for pumpkins include beans, corn, radishes, and marigolds. Beans can help fix nitrogen in the soil, while corn provides a natural trellis for vining plants. Radishes help deter pests such as squash bugs, and marigolds can repel nematodes and other harmful insects.
Use Mycorrhizal Fungi to Improve Nutrient Uptake
Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your pumpkin plant, enhancing nutrient and water uptake. These fungi can be added to the soil when transplanting your seedlings outdoors. Look for a high-quality mycorrhizal inoculant from a reputable supplier to ensure optimal results.
Rotate Your Pumpkin
Rotating your growing pumpkin regularly can help it maintain a symmetrical shape, which reduces stress on the vine and helps prevent cracks or other damage. Gently turn the pumpkin a quarter turn every few days, ensuring not to damage the vine or disturb the roots.
By incorporating these lesser-known tips and techniques, you can further enhance the growth of your Atlantic Giant Pumpkin and achieve even more impressive results.
Seeds and planting
Links and Resources
(These are some of what I use)
mybackyard.ca Seeds Page
Get a Head Start on Spring: The Benefits of Starting Your Seeds Indoors
Saving Vegetable Seeds: A Comprehensive Guide to Gardening Success
myBackyard.ca Planting Guide
Pollock Tomatoes (North hardy Tomato variety)
Tomatoes (Useful information on starting tomatoes from seed)
Individual seed and plant information is available in the "Gardening Shortcut Links" above under "North Hardy Plants to grow". I have successfully grown all of these, and most I grow year to year.
myBackyard is for recreational purposes only. Plants, mushrooms and berries cannot be 100% identified through this website alone. It is up to the reader to properly identify plants, fungi and trees. Some wild plants, berries and mushrooms are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. Even those listed as edible may cause adverse reactions in individuals.
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