Do your children always want the biggest pumpkin on the lot? Do you dread choosing a pumpkin because of how much the bigger ones cost? If you answered yes to either of those questions the good news is that you can actually grow those big pumpkins on your own with very little effort and very little cost.
Here are some tips on how to grow big pumpkins for Halloween.
Before you plant your pumpkins be sure to choose an area that gets eight to ten hours of strong sunlight a day. Pumpkin plants grown in the shade will often refuse to fruit, which means that they won’t produce pumpkins. If they do manage to produce, pumpkins that are raised in the shade are small, distorted and anemic. Remember, great pumpkins are the ones with the bright orange “tan”.
Another important factor in growing big pumpkins is choosing the correct type of seed; not all pumpkins will grow to large sizes. Two of the most popular giant pumpkins are Big Max and Atlantic Giant; if you can’t find these at your local nursery you, can find them in many seed catalogs.
When planting the seeds you want to plant them when your nightly temperatures are not going to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to get a jump on the season you can start the seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost is expected.
Carefully nick the hard seed coat with your fingernail or a sharp knife but do not cut all the way into the seed. Place the seeds into a glass of water and soak them overnight. Nicking the shells and soaking the seeds will make pumpkins sprout faster. Any seeds that are still floating after twenty-four hours should be discarded because they will not sprout.
The next step is to plant your seeds. When planting your seeds you should be sure to plant then about three inches deep in the soil. The more organic materials your soil has, the better your pumpkins will grow. Some examples of good organic materials are: sawdust, decayed leaves, lawn clippings, shredded newspaper, etc. But before you use them you want to make sure that they are in an advanced state of decomposition.
When you are planting the seeds you want to be sure that you are planting them in groups of three in small mounds. Once you have planted the seeds in the mounds you should sprinkle a quarter cup of blood and bone meal over the mound and water the mounds. You can find the blood and bone meal at most garden centers.
Once you have planted your seeds you need to keep an eye out for your seedlings, especially when you are weeding. If you see two round, opposite leaves they probably belong to a pumpkin, not to some weed, so leave it alone. You should also protect your seedlings from any birds or bugs that enjoy munching on newly sprouted plants. The best way to protect your plants from birds is to use some type of netting to cover the plants until they are more mature.
Now that you have the pumpkins started you are going to need to trim all but one pumpkin off each vine. This will allow your pumpkins to grow larger because there will be less stress on the plants and they won’t be competing for the same food and water. You should also mound soil over the vines every two feet to add vigor to your plants.
Make sure that you put a board under your pumpkins to prevent rot, when the pumpkins are big enough position their bottoms so they sit flat on the board, this will help to ensure that the bottom of the pumpkins are flat and will sit upright.