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TheWaterbug
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Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Last year's Giant Pumpkin thread was a lot of fun, so here's the sequel!

I'm just starting to prep the beds for this year's Atlantic Giants. I'll post a proper picture of the hole tomorrow, but here's what I dug out while broadforking an approximately 15' x 15' area:

Image

That one that I couldn't get into the wheelbarrow is probably close to 75 lbs.

So I'm going to double-dig the innermost ~6' x 6' of the plot, and till a bunch of manure and stuff into the whole patch. And then do it again on the other side of the yard.

Last year's largest was 142 lbs. Hoping for larger this year!
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

How deep do you dig the area down to soil prep?
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

What exactly does one do with a 150 pound pumpkin?

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Im going for the same thing waterbug, i have dills atlantic giants, big max, and first prize hybrid plants...My money is on the atlantic giants, but after my last years failure, id be happy with anything bigger then 50 pounds

Last year was a bust for me, the majority of it was my fault, so this year i want to go big or go home :twisted:

Im doing pretty much the same thing you are with compost and manure, and digging a deep hole, i hear thats one of the "keys" to growing the "big daddies"

If you don't mind i can share my progress and post pics as well on this thread throughout the growing season, maybe we can get others to share their pumpkin growing season as well, after all its up to you

Im looking forward to seeing your progress

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

How deep do you dig the area down to soil prep?
I used my broadfork over the larger area, and it has 14" tines. In the center section I dug out the loose soil and 'forked it again. So I'm down at least 28" in the center. It's hard to see in the photo, because there's so little contrast, but here it is:

Image

I'll till in some bagged soil, manure, nitrogen fertilizer, and gypsum this weekend. I'm trying to figure out if my tiller is going to be any use in that center hole.
What exactly does one do with a 150 pound pumpkin?
I'll let you know when I grow one ;)

Last year's went next to the mailbox on the street, as a fall decoration, until it finally rotted in around late December. They're pretty much useless for cooking or eating, but if you're handy with the big tools you can carve them, too.
If you don't mind i can share my progress and post pics as well
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

So your 15 x 15 plot is for ONE giant pumpkin plant?
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

rainbowgardener wrote:So your 15 x 15 plot is for ONE giant pumpkin plant?
Oh yes! Some people will dedicate an entire yard to a plant. And each plant gets culled down to a single fruit, so that all the plant's energy goes into making on massive pumpkin.

Here's a picture of last year's two vines at 8.5 weeks:

Image

The vines eventually grew to ~2x that size, area-wise, but I'd hoped for larger. So this year I'm 'forking larger and deeper. If you're really trying to go large, you're supposed to bury secondary vines, and prune and train and generally go insane.

This site has more details, and I believe that the photo on that first page is a single vine for a single fruit. They recommend up to 1000sf per vine!
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

And here's a 900 lb. pumpkin grown by one "Michelle Lofthouse." Any relation to jal_ut?
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

So....basically just for fun? Lol...seems like a heckuva lot of work and space to grow one giant fruit that you can't eat. But if you enjoy it, more power to ya. Good luck!

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

If you push the tiller down that slope into the center hole, will you be able to gt it to climb out?

Looking forward to seeing everyone's progress. 8)
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Yikesies!!!!!
Please keep us posted for entertainment value only!
Have fun!
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

I like to grow a few large pumpkins each year just for the heck of it. I use them for yard decorations.

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

James - what do you do special for your pumpkins?? I thought I was reading a previous thread of you saying you just stick them in the ground and let mother nature take its course, if so that's some nice looking "giants" for not pampering them...

How many pumpkin plants do you normally grow in your patch?

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

applestar wrote:If you push the tiller down that slope into the center hole, will you be able to gt it to climb out?

Looking forward to seeing everyone's progress. 8)
Probably. The slope is reasonable, so it won't be like trying to climb a wall. I'm picking up some bagged soil this afternoon, and then I'm going to try to till it in. If you see a picture here later, with me cursing at a stuck tiller, you'll know what happened :D
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

I found this Giant Pumpkin blog yesterday, so I drove up to Burbank in the afternoon*, and the good Stuart Shim (the blogger and host of the workshop) had left some seeds from a 800 lb. behemoth. I got two packs of four and bought $100 :shock: worth of super high quality unicorn manure . . . err . . . planting mix.

Per Stuart's instructions I dug my center pit even deeper, to about 4' below grade, and mixed in 12 cu ft of this extremely expensive soil. I tilled another 9 cu ft of lesser soil into the top ~8" of soil in the surrounding area, and then put another 2 cu ft of super soil into a low mound in the center. I know I was going to plant at grade this year, but given the amount of fluffing up I'd done in the 4' below the seed, I'm sure I'm going to get some subsidence over time. So I built up a low mound about 8" tall and planted the seed.

It was 8 PM by the time I got everything finished, so it was too dark for pictures, but I'll try to get one tomorrow.

And then I have another pit to dig, fill with the world's most expensive soil, top off, and plant with my second set of seeds.

Alea iacta est!!

* There are more workshops (and, I presume, more opportunities to get some seeds) throughout Orange County tomorrow and in the next several weeks. See the linked blog for more details.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

wow waterbug!!!

You will easily have me beat this year, im shooting for bigger pumpkins then last year, so i should easily be able to beat what i did last year...

Ive dug down probably 1-2 feet sorta like what you have done...

I have a few different areas where im planting my pumpkins, so i can keep track of what conditions work best for me.

Im debating about digging a deep hole like you did, i know thats a great way to achieve giant pumpkins..

Waterbug, what vegetables are you growing this year? im sure you have a bunch of diff things growing as we speak, also how many different pumpkin plants will you have in the ground this year?

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Pictures, as promised. Here's the whole area, with two Atlantic Giants planted:

Image

and here's what one site looks like, closer up:

Image

On the near site I tilled up an area about 12' x 12', and the far site I probably went out to about 15' x 15'. Both pits were nearly 4' deep. The near seeds went in Saturday and the far seeds Sunday, so they should emerge in 3-4 days, I'd think, though it's been on the cool side here in LA this week.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

And, of course, I dug a heap of rocks out of second site:

Image

The big ones are 50 - 75 lbs.

Did our early settlers have to do the same thing, but with wooden tools and horses? I pulled several different muscles this weekend.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

I have to BUY rocks like that when I want them... But then again, I've never tried digging a 4 ft deep pit... Who knows? :P

Looking good -- it's going to be fun following along. Thanks for sharing. :D
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

It looks like a fun project. It takes up a lot of space. Are you putting in one vine or multiple vines and letting them crawl on top of each other? How long do the vines get?

I grew a pumpkin once in the front yard. I got over twenty baby pumpkins, but most of them were either stung or shriveled up on their own. Only 2 got to any size. That vine was about 50 ft long and I just kept turning it once it hit the sidewalk and again when it got to the fence on the other side. I got one good sized one in June, but it rotted before Halloween that year.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

applestar wrote:I have to BUY rocks like that when I want them... But then again, I've never tried digging a 4 ft deep pit... Who knows? :P
You can have all my rocks for free!

Shipping will be $2,450.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

imafan26 wrote:It looks like a fun project. It takes up a lot of space. Are you putting in one vine or multiple vines and letting them crawl on top of each other? How long do the vines get?
I sowed 4 seeds per site, and after they grow 4-5 true leaves I'll thin down to the single strongest plant per site.

So I'll only have two Atlantic Giants, and each will grow 1 fruit (I hope!).

AG vines are fully capable of carpeting that entire area, but whether they'll achieve that is up to me and whether I've learned anything since last year :P

In the "main" pumpkin patch (separate thread coming soon :D) I'll have a few Big Max and Luminas, both of which put out 20'+ vines last year.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Thats awesome your growing big max, I'm growing those as well and first prize hybrid....

But the weather we have been having here in Michigan is beating my plants up..
Its about time for some nice warmer temps, I've been wondering if it will ever warm up this year...

I think your in a better climate for growing bigger pumpkins..

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

James - what do you do special for your pumpkins?? I thought I was reading a previous thread of you saying you just stick them in the ground and let mother nature take its course, if so that's some nice looking "giants" for not pampering them...

How many pumpkin plants do you normally grow in your patch?
I usually devote a fair sized area to pumpkins and squash. I plant in hills with 4 to 5 seeds per hill, with hills spaced 6 feet. I do try to fertilize the area with manure or something out of a bag or both, however I do not dig big pits as some are doing. Clean out the chicken coop in the fall ,spread it out and till it in. They get watered once a week when the sprinklers go on for the whole garden.

Those two large ones are maxima type. I also grow some pepo types. How many? one hill of maxima and 3 hills of pepo is about right. Hey, it turns into a jungle.

Image

Image

Here is some of what came off my squash patch last season.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

jal_ut wrote:I plant in hills with 4 to 5 seeds per hill, with hills spaced 6 feet.
Do you thin down to a smaller number plants? Or do you let them all grow?
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Am I wrong for thinking I can space my pumpkins 2-3 feet apart?? They have the whole backyard to crawl over if they want to

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Do you thin down to a smaller number plants? Or do you let them all grow?
I just let them grow.
Am I wrong for thinking I can space my pumpkins 2-3 feet apart??
I think you would be fine if you put a squash every 2 feet in a row for as long as you want to go.
Or even a little closer. When you think about it the way I plant with 5 seeds to a hill, if you put
them in a row instead of a hill, they would be quite close. If you have space on both sides of
the row for them to ramble it would be great.

Planting in hills the vines tend to go out like the spokes on a wheel.

Keep in mind though that these plants are vining and can have vines up to 20 feet or more long.
I once planted pumpkins along a fence, though it was back from the fence 8 feet. One vine went
to the fence, climbed the fence, jumped into a tree, and went 16 feet up the tree. Now there was
a 25 pound pumpkin hanging ten feet off the ground in that tree.

You can direct the vines in the direction you want them to go.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

So I'll only have two Atlantic Giants, and each will grow 1 fruit (I hope!).
I have not tried Atlantic Giants. I understand that these are the ones that can have the record breakers.

If you are going for a big one, once you get a pumpkin set on, remove all other female blossoms so that all the plants energy can go into that one fruit. Best of luck.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

TheWaterbug wrote:The near seeds went in Saturday and the far seeds Sunday, so they should emerge in 3-4 days, I'd think, though it's been on the cool side here in LA this week.
So this year they took 7 days to emerge:

Image

The countdown to glory or heartbreak begins!

If I get one of any significant size, I can mail out seeds :D
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

And now I've got 100% germination on all 8 seeds:

Image

Image

though the last one of each bunch looks _terrible_ and probably ought to be put out of its misery.

I put the drip system in a few days after I sowed, but didn't realize I had a leak in the timer valve, so it basically dribbled continuously for 24 hours before I shut it off and changed the valve.

The wetness didn't spread beyond the raised hill, so I'm guessing I've "pre-charged" my deeply dug pit with a few gallons of water!
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

That looks awesome! I do think you are in an awesome climate for growing giants. I think here in the San Diego are they would get to hot during the summer. I wish I had the space to do that...... Goodluck though!

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

24 days from sowing seed I culled down to 1 plant per hill and pulled off the protective cages, as they were constraining the plants. It's up to them now to grow faster than the peafowl can eat them:

Image

I put a drip circle around it, but I've got that on a valve that I haven't opened yet. So for now it's just that one center dripper:

Image

I got the PlantCam mounted yesterday, so I should get some nice video this season if I can remember to check the batteries every week or so:

Image
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Here we are at 67 days. The plants are vining nicely:

Image

I haven't been burying the secondaries like I'm supposed to; I would do that this weekend, but I have our Corn-U-Copia party, and I just don't have time.

The peafowl can't really damage the plants too badly at this point, but they do eat the fruit, so I have to cover them with cages. The far plant has one the size of a grapefruit:

Image

but the near one hasn't anything larger than a goose egg right now. I have cages over a few of these, so if they pollinated well they'll swell up in the next 3-4 days.

I'll probably cull down to 1 fruit per vine once they get to basketball size.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

The peafowl can't really damage the plants too badly at this point, but they do eat the fruit, so I have to cover them with cages.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

I was reading a historical manga based on Elizabethan era, and the young heroin asked what they were eating for lunch. The butler? valet? answered: "Peafowl tongues, m'lady." :shock:

...did they really eat them? Waterbug's, maybe your next party theme can be historical cuisine. :P
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

How long do you suspect before harvesting them? Those look great. What do you mean by burying the secondary vines?

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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

If you want a nice round pumpkin, when it is about the size of a volleyball, gently move it closer to the root attachment so you have some slack in the vine and then set it on the blossom end so it will form round and not flatten out like they do if let to grow on their side. Its good to put a piece of cardboard under them too to keep critters from attacking them from underneath. Also once you have a nice fruit set on a vine clip any other female blossoms on that vine so all the energy will go into one fruit. I'm hoping you get one you need a forklift to move. ;)
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

^^
I did this last year, and I nearly killed it by crunching the stem. I should have had someone helping me to stabilize it when I started moving it.

As it turns out the pumpkin survived, and it was my heaviest one, but I'm wondering if it could have grown larger if I hadn't damaged the stem.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

ReptileAddiction wrote:How long do you suspect before harvesting them? Those look great. What do you mean by burying the secondary vines?
Squash plants send out little roots at each leaf node. If they have access to decent soil and water they can suck up a lot of nutrients and supercharge the plant. Lots of giant pumpkin growers will dig trenches for the secondary vines and bury them.

You don't want to do this for the primary vine that growing your giant fruit because that one needs to be able to lift off the ground as the fruit grows.

I'll let it grow until the pumpkin patch party just before Halloween, and then we'll have a "guess the weight" contest for the kids.
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Re: Giant Pumpkins for 2013!

Hi waterbug! I love all of the pictures you have posted!

So does that one pumpkin produce those vines in that spiral-type pattern? I am growing pumpkins (not sure of the variety... got the seeds awhile ago and just keep using those... but they are much, much smaller (and I found a female that is just about to bloom!!)) and the vine just grows outward from the original root.

Good luck with that pumpkin!

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