How to germinate and grow a giant pumpkin
I love pumpkins, so when my friend said that she had giant pumpkin seeds, I jumped right on it. The entire process wasn’t hard and Halloween is much more exciting with a giant pumpkin on your porch. Take a look!
Admittedly, I’m a novice pumpkin grower. There’s a lot of die-hard giant pumpkin growers out there. I’m not one of them, but I can show you what I learned and I hope it will help you.
Find some good giant pumpkin seeds
I got my seeds from my friend who grow giant pumpkins herself. However, if you don’t know someone who grows them, you can actually order giant pumpkin seeds online. You can also join a pumpkin-growing club. Here’s a list of places to start:
Germinate your seeds
The best way to get a head start on your pumpkins is to germinate the seeds before planting season. In Utah, we can start planting after Mother’s Day in May. So I started the germinating process towards the end of April.
First, take each individual seed and fold them each in their own damp paper towel. Then place the towel in a Ziploc bag. Put all of your paper towels (with seeds in them) into a cooler. Next to the seeds, put two quart jars filled with hot water. This will keep it nice and warm inside your cooler. Replace the quart jars every day for about five days.
Pot germinated pumpkin seeds
Once your cute little seeds have germinated, place each one (root down) into individual jiffy pots filled with potting soil. You can push your index finger down into the soil about an inch or so to make room for the seed. Then cover it up and water frequently.
Wait for your seeds to sprout
Place your tray of jiffy pots inside at night and in the sun outside during the day. In about 5 to 10 days, you’ll see the magic happen! Your seeds should start to sprout.
Plant pumpkin starts in your garden
Once it’s Mother’s Day and warm enough that there is no danger of frost on the ground, you can plant your pumpkin starts. If the soil is too cold, the starts will rot or stop growing. I had so many starts that I was able to share them with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law.
Pick a spot with full sun and allow 50 to 100 feet for the vines to spread out. You’ll also want a spot with lots of drainage so the soil doesn’t get soggy. Dig a small hole large enough so that the entire pot is inside the ground. Wet down the pot really well before you place it in the ground so it will break down easily once planted. Cover the pot with dirt.
Watch your pumpkins grow
I found a lot of helpful information on growing pumpkins from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here’s a few highlights that will help:
- Water one inch per week
- Add mulch around your pumpkins to keep in moisture and discourage pests
- Fertilize on a regular basis
- Pinch off the fuzzy ends of each vine after a few pumpkins have formed. This will stop vine growth so that the plant’s energies are focused on the fruit
- Place a thin board or heavy cardboard under ripening melons and pumpkins to avoid decay and insect damage.
So, unfortunately for me, I got a little bit over-anxious and planted my pumpkins too early. It stifled the growth of my pumpkins and all my plants died! However, my family planted the other starts that I gave them and their pumpkins turned out amazing!
Some of their pumpkins were so big, they had to use a tractor to place them on their front porch! They turned out amazing.
What other tips do you have to growing a giant pumpkin? Leave your comments below.
Related link: Pruning backyard raspberries in 1, 2, 3!