How to: Grow giant pumpkins, part 4

by Lala

The great pumpkin escape! Last week there were three Atlantic Giant pumpkins that had escaped the hugelkultur bed and started growing on one of the hedges. Remember these guys?

Hedge pumpkins

Well, one disappeared completely (probably eaten by birds), one is on it’s way to becoming chicken feed & one is definitely getting ready to be a giant! They were pretty close together, so I did expect only one to make it, if any. Meet pumpkin D (the middle one above), from the same section today:

Pumpkin in the fence

I will have to bring that vine down because those hedges aren’t going to be able to support a 90kg+ pumpkin. There are some more little ones forming on the end of the vine, which I need to snip off. I did a whole lot of other garden maintenance today besides the pumpkins, so I didn’t get round to trimming them.

As predicted, Pumpkin C didn’t make it. It had shriveled up from the insect bite. It just fell off the vine from a slight touch. The pumpkin seeds were just starting to form. I cut it up and it actually looked fine inside.

Pumpkin c

Instead of chucking it onto the compost heap, I gave it to the chickens and they loved it.

Chickens eating pumpkins

Another casualty in the near future is Pumpkin A. It’s gone all gnarly on one side and has stopped growing. Pumpkin B is going strong. This is quite the reversal of fortunes, since Pumpkin A was the first promising, big pumpkin from all of the AG vines. C’est la vie!

Pumpkin B below:

How to predict which pumpkins are keepers:

One of the tricks to growing really giant pumpkins is to select the largest, most promising ones on the vine and pinch off the smaller and weaker ones. This ensure that the plant puts more of its energy into the pumpkin you want, rather than having to share the water and nutrients amongst several pumpkins. The sooner you do this, the better. It is also highly recommended that one removes tertiary vines. The main vine is the primary, the ones that branch off from it are the secondary and the ones that branch from those are the tertiaries. Some growers even remove flowers from all vines with a possible champion in production.

Below you can see two pumpkins that developed at more or less the same time. The one on the left was actually a few days earlier. The yellow pumpkin on the left probably won’t make it, because it’s on a smaller, shorter stem. The one on the left is already quite big, although it’s still green and the stem on the base is very thick. The bigger stem means more water and nutrients are going to the pumpkin, which can only make for a bigger fruit. Because I am experimenting, I will allow both pumpkins to keep growing and see which one lasts longer and gets bigger. I’m calling the green one, Pumpkin E.

Good pumpkin vs weaker

Thus far, I haven’t posted any pictures of the Big Max pumpkins because there hasn’t been much to report. I’m very glad to see they have started to set pumpkins that are actually growing. I gave them some manure, a little superphosphate and a handful of Neutrog BounceBack pellets each today. I watered that in very well. The next pumpkin post, hopefully before the end of this week, will show their progress.

Part 1 – Info on getting started and where to buy giant pumpkin seeds
Part 2
Part 3

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