The great pumpkin experiment has come to an end for this summer, due to the heatwave and a bout of mildew that I didn’t fix in time. It has been quite an adventure and learning curve. Visit my How to Grow Giant Pumpkins series, to learn how it all started, where to buy seeds and see progress pictures.
In mid January we harvested the first Atlantic Giant pumpkin that I managed to grow, right here at home. It was supposed to have kept growing at least until the weather started getting cool in March, but alas the heat and mildew killed the vine it was growing on, so well in our adapted hugelkultur bed.
The pumpkin survived my female German shepherd dog (she scratched the first very big one, which later succumbed to its injuries), my irregular watering schedule and a composting / soil amendment regimen that was not as great as it could have been. Later this year when I get more seeds, I will have prepared the soil far better and maybe have rigged up an irrigation system specifically for the pumpkin patch, because I don’t think our grass sprinklers really do a good job of reaching those other areas. I’ve learnt about a soil amendment called Rock Dust which seems to do amazing things for veggies, according to the Youtube clips I’ve been watching. It is available in South Africa, so I will certainly get some for the next round.
I don’t think I mentioned that one of the pumpkins that was growing outside of our fence GOT STOLEN! It wasn’t even that big yet (just smaller than a soccer ball & certainly not ripe). I could easily see the spot where the thief had used a knife to slice it off the vine. What the heck?!
This is the one:
There are still parts of two pumpkin vines that have escaped the hugelkutur bed, and have started growing in the shade under a large Palm tree and at one point had strangled my thornless blackberry. There are little ones growing on there, but it is far too late in the season to expect anything substantial from there. The Big Max pumpkins at the back yard were quite a disappointment, although next time I think I will try them in different areas. One did manage to make a good sized pumpkin for a start, but it rotted off. I think that the food forest area was too damp. More little ones are also coming along on that vine.
Back to the main news of the post: Our first Atlantic Giant pumpkin weighed in at 11kgs. Not quite the giant we were expecting, but it is a respectable weight for first timers and it is larger than the average store bought pumpkin, which weigh between 2.7kg and 8.2kgs.
So now I will wait until the season is truly over, so that I can do something else with the pumpkin patch. I believe in the benefits of crop rotation, so I plan to plant something different in the same bed over winter, after I add more organic matter to the mix. The chickens are doing great, and have started laying. The mix of chicken manure and the grass clippings we use to line their McMansion will be perfect for this. I’ll let it settle in the bed for a couple of weeks before planting anything else.
At the time of harvesting my 7-month-old boy weighed about 9kgs, and the pumpkin there weighed 11kgs as I said.
It is still sitting on our kitchen counter as a conversation piece for our family, friends and visitors, hahah. Pumpkins can keep for a very long time…months and months, because of their tough outer skin. What do you think we should do with it?
I wonder if this is the first giant pumpkin selfie, by a grower. I’m having a lot of fun with the selfie stick. Once I have the Facebook page up and running, I may do a give-away of a couple of them.