How to: Grow giant pumpkins, part 3

by Lala

The Atlantic Giants were sprayed earlier in the week and the bigger pumpkins were adjusted to sit correctly. We have not had rain this week, only a few minutes of drizzle, so I had to water them in the afternoons. I gave all the pumpkins a dose of Multifeed and had hoped the rain would soak it in.

The information on Howard Dill’s website says the Atlantic Giants have a growing season of 130 days. Big Max is supposed to have a season of 120 days from planting. I’ve got just about a month left according to that information, but I know they will keep going for much longer because South Africa is much warmer than the US areas where this info is usually sourced. One is supposed to let the pumpkins keep growing on the vine until all the leaves turn yellow and die off. My vines are still actively growing, climbing, putting out new flowers and proto-pumpkins so I think that I have at least two months more of growing left.

As the pumpkins get bigger, one needs to start thinking about keeping them from having direct contact with the soil. You need to do this to protect them somewhat from soggy soil, bacteria, fungus and insects. Options I have read about include placing stryrofoam or a thick layer of play sand under the pumpkins. The competitive pumpkin growers use wooden shipping pallets, with a layer of some cushioning material on top. This helps later on when they need to transport the pumpkins to a pampoenfees / pumpkin festival for a weigh off. I will most likely use sand, although that could have the disadvantage of needing to be replenished as time goes on. I am going to check if I have any large enough pieces of styrofoam from the Christmas boxes, but I anticipate that it might be irresistible to the dogs. See what works for you and let me know in the comments.

Pumpkins A, B & C in order. I reckon C is not going to make it.

Pumpkins A, B & C in order. I reckon C is not going to make it.

That said, I am patiently waiting for the Big Max pumpkins to do something…anything. So far I’ve seen lots of vegetative growth, bursts of flowers every other week but no little pumpkins that stay on and grow. The tiny proto pumpkins I have seen in the past few weeks haven’t stayed on. The garden has no shortage of pollinators, so that isn’t the problem. I had a similar issue with the Atlantic Giants at the start of the season. They would make pumpkins the size of golf balls or a bit smaller and then fall off. Something was possibly stinging them (probably the same pest that got to Pumpkin C). When I started spraying them, the pumpkins started to grow bigger than golf balls.

So I sprayed the Big Max vines as well and I will increase their compost and fertiliser routine. I did spot one very small fruit on a vine earlier but it make be another fluke. The main difference in the conditions of the pumpkins is that I have the Atlantic Giants in a specially prepared bed with loads of solid amendments, while the Big Max are in ordinary garden soil. I will keep feeding, increase watering and see what happens.

The Atlantic Giant Pumpkin B is currently the biggest one. I think I should start tracking their weight and measurements as well at this point.

Real Cinderella stuff: Pumpkin B came out of nowhere & replaced A as the biggest one in just a week.

Real Cinderella stuff: Pumpkin B came out of nowhere & replaced A as the biggest one in just a week.

Part 1 – Info on getting started and where to buy giant pumpkin seeds
Part 2
Part 4

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