How to Grow 'Em Big
The Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization gives advice on growing giant pumpkins.
Photo courtesy of The Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization/ Bill Clark and Buzz Pinkham
In the October 2008 issue of Down East, Kathleen Fleury writes about Maine's weirdest regatta: Damariscotta's Great Pumpkin Fest and Regatta. In case you'd like to participate next year, below we've included the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization's thorough advice on how to grow your own giant pumpkin. Good growing!
- Your patch should be in an area that receives full sun if possible.
- For each plant you intend to grow, you will need a minimum of 400 square feet of area, with the ideal size being 600 square feet. Many growers have seen success in recent years growing in an area closer to the smaller area and new philosophy is showing a trend toward smaller patches. However, there are those who still opt for an area upwards toward 1000 square feet per plant.
- Soil condition is perhaps the most important ingredient in growing a giant pumpkin. Get a professional soil test done as soon as possible. This will provide you with a guide as to what your soil conditions are and what is needed to get your soil in the best condition it can be in. There are dozens of places you can send your soil sample to be analyzed and a few of those are listed in the Information section. Ask another grower for help in interpreting your soil test results as they can be confusing sometimes.
- In the fall is the best time to add amendments to your soil. General practice is to add soil amendments such as manure, compost, leaves, lime or sulphur and any fertilizers that don’t leach out quickly in the fall.
When starting a new patch in which to grow giant pumpkins, haul in and spread at least a couple loads of manure, preferably aged or composted. Cow manure has less weed seed in it than horse manure and is usually a better choice, but use what you can get.
Aged compost is an excellent amendment that can be added in the fall or spring. Compost not only increases the organic matter level of the soil, but contributes beneficial microorganisms that make your soil healthy.
Add in as many leaves as you can get to help increase organic matter levels as well. Oak leaves have a coating on them, which break down slower than other leaves and walnut leaves contain a toxin, which is bad for plants, so try to avoid these types. Shred or chop the leaves into smaller pieces so they will break down faster. Running over them with a lawnmower several times works if you don’t have a shedder.
Amendments to adjust your soil PH toward an optimum reading of 7.0 should be added in the fall. Add lime if your soil test shows your PH to be low. Some types of lime are magnesium based and others are calcium based. Check the level of these two nutrients in your soil test when choosing which type of lime to spread. Agricultural sulphur can be added if your PH is high. Consult with another grower to determine amounts of lime or sulphur needed if your soil test does not indicate how much. Remember that is will take several months to move your PH level.
If your soil test shows that specific nutrient levels are low, you can add fertilizers in the fall to bring those levels up, however many nutrients tend to leach out of soil over time so more of these fertilizers may need to be added in the spring. Remember that more is not better, as you are striving to reach a balance of nutrients in your soil that is suited to growing Atlantic Giants, so it is best to consult an experienced grower to help determine amounts needed.
- As soon as your soil is dry enough to work, and your Spring fertilizers have been added, till your soil. Many growers will place clear plastic over their patch to help thaw and heat up the soil, however the plastic will need to be removed a couple weeks or more before tilling to allow the soil to dry out. Never try to work your soil when it is too wet as you will do more harm than good.
- After your patch is tilled, erect a small hoophouse or coldframe over the area where your seedling will be planted. The purpose of this mini-greenhouse is two-fold. Your plant needs the ground to be warm before planting and your plant will need to be protected from cold weather on those early spring nights. The enclosure should be large enough for the plant to grow inside for up to 3 weeks so a 3’ x 3’ area should be the minimum area it covers. Remember if you keep the top of the enclosure fairly low to the ground, you will retain more of the days heat after dark. Many growers utilize lightbulbs or heaters to keep the temperature up at night, however care must be taken to protect not only the structure but the plant itself from too much heat which could kill your seedling or even worse, catch your enclosure on fire.
- Seeds should be started inside on or about the last week of April, depending on the weather. Use a 4" pot or larger, filled about ¾ full of potting soil, to start your seed. Quart size ice cream containers make great starting pots. Invert the well cleaned container upside down so the cover is on the bottom. Cut the original bottom out of the container and use as the top of your makeshift pot. Be sure to punch holes in the bottom or your pot to allow excess water to drain. When your ready to set your plant in the ground, remove the bottom cover of the container, the top of the original ice cream container, and your seedling will slide out into the prepared planting spot while not disturbing the roots. Atlantic Giants can fill a 4" peat pot with root in 7 days so if the weather isn’t cooperating and your plants may be inside for more than a week, go with a bigger pot to start.
There are several methods to start your seed. When growing Atlantic Giants, it isn’t as easy as simply placing the seed from the envelope directly into the pot without any preparation. If you want to improve the speed and reliability of germination, especially if you are fortunate enough to have obtained a ‘hot’ seed, there are a couple things you can do prior to placing the seed in the pot that will do much toward increasing your odds that it will germinate.
First, very lightly file the edges of your seed with a nail file or fine sandpaper so that a very small amount of the seed coat edge is sanded away. Stay away from the pointed end. You should just start to see a color difference along the edge if done correctly. This will aid moisture in penetrating the seed coat.
Next, soak your seed for up to 8 hours before planting in warm water. This will give your seed a jump start in getting moisture into the seed. Some growers prefer to soak in a mix of water and seaweed emulsion or hydrogen peroxide and water. The hydrogen peroxide produces oxygen in the solution that is believed to be a benefit in germination. After soaking the seed, wet a paper towel and squeeze most but not all of the water out. Carefully wrap the seed in several folds of the paper towel and place it in a zip-lock bag, leaving just a bit of air inside. The seed then needs to be kept between 85 and 90 degrees for optimum conditions. There are several ways to achieve this, depending on how much effort you want to put in to getting the seed to sprout.
The warmer you keep your planted seed, the faster and healthier your seed will sprout. The easiest way is to simply place the zip-lock bag on a warm surface such as the top of a refrigerator or a computer monitor. This method is not a controlled environment and temperature variants may be detrimental to your effort. Another method is to create a type of seed incubator with a big cooler and a bottle of hot water placed inside, changed 2-3 times a day. The most intensive method is to build a germination box like the one in the How-To section. A germ box gives the most controlled environment in which to germinate your seeds. Your seeds will stay nice and warm in a fairly constant 85 degrees thereby speeding up the process with more consistent results.
In 3-5 days, depending on the temperature and preparation, your seed should begin to sprout with a small root protruding from the pointed end. At this time you should have your pot and growing medium ready to receive the newly sprouted seed. Poke a hole in the growing medium and carefully place the seed in the hole, insuring that the root is not pressed into the medium and that the top of the seed is about ½" below the surface. Gently pack the medium around the seed with a fork until the hole is filled in to the surface of the medium. Now place the pot in either a warm sunny spot or back in your germination box until the seedling breaks ground. Try to maintain the 85 degree temperature day and night.
After your seedling breaks ground, if your using a germination box, remove the pot and place in a sunny window. A fluorescent light placed a few inches above the pot will help your seedling ‘green-up’ faster and prevent the stem from getting ‘leggy’. Short and stumpy is better than tall and lanky. Many times the seedling will have some difficulty in shedding the seed coat. You can very carefully slide this seed coat off the seed leaves if it doesn’t come off by itself a couple days after breaking ground but use extreme caution in doing so.
Continue to keep the soil moist but not wet, pumpkins don’t like wet feet. Once your plant is about 5 days old you should notice the first true leaf forming between the seed leaves. When this leaf grows to about 2" across it and the weather is cooperating, your ready to set your seedling in the ground inside the coldframe you erected earlier. Place the seedling in the ground up to the bottoms of the seed leaves, insuring that the first true leaf, the one in the middle, is facing opposite the way you want your main vine to run. This is not to say that your plant may not cooperate and begin to vine the wrong way, but 9 times out of 10 it works.
From Seedling to Fruit
- Once your seedling is in the ground, it is very vulnerable to the elements, even inside your coldframe. Pumpkin plants do not like extreme heat and will not tolerate the cold. Therefor you need to do everything you can to keep the plant happy. At night in May, place a bucket or a box over your plant and cover with a blanket to retain as much of the day’s warmth as possible. Uncover in the morning when the temperature is above 40 outside or 50 inside the coldframe.
- Water your seedling as needed to keep the soil moist but not wet. Luke warm water is better than cold for watering.
- Your plant is susceptible to disease through its lifespan. One of the most common is known as Powdery Mildew, identified by the presence of white powdery looking spots on the top and bottom of leaves. Spraying your plant once a week with a fungicide such as Daconil will go far in keeping disease at bay. Insects are also a problem such as slugs, cucumber bugs and white flies. A pesticide such as Liquid Sevin applied once a week opposite of the fungicide application should keep the bugs down. As with all pesticides and fungicides, use caution and follow the manufactures label. Apply chemicals only after the plant is well established in the ground and then only lightly until the plant begins to ‘vine-out’.
- Your plant should start to vine in about 2-3 weeks, depending on the temperature and soil moisture. If your plant decides it wants to vine in the wrong direction, you can turn it in the right direction over the course of a couple weeks using a few stakes and moving the vine a little bit each day during the heat of the day, starting when the vine is about 12' to 18' long. At around 5 weeks old, your plant vine will grow up to 1 foot a day so be prepared to stay on top of it from this point on.
- As your vine grows, it will sprout what are known as secondary vines off of the main vine. These secondaries are where the plant gets much of its energy and should be nurtured as the main vine is. However, off these secondaries will grow more vines known as tertiary vines or sucker vines. These vines rob the plant of valuable nutrients and should be pinched off when they appear.
- Your plant can cover up more than 1000 square feet if left to grow unbridled so things need to be done so your plant doesn’t become a ‘jungle’ of vines running every which way. Establishing a growing pattern for your plant is first. There are several growing patterns that growers use but the most widely used pattern is the so-called ‘Christmas Tree’. Think of your plant as a christmas tree, where the main vine is the trunk and the secondaries are branches. Train your vines so that the main vine runs generally straight out from the stump and the secondaries grow perpendicular to the main as shown below:
If you do not have enough room to grow your plant in the pattern above, you can cut off all the secondaries from one side, allowing the main and remaining secondaries to be a bit longer. This is known as the flag pattern. In either case, your main vine should be allowed to grow to a minimum length of 15 feet, although 20’ or more is better. Your secondaries should be allowed to grow to a minimum length of 10 feet using the christmas tree pattern and 14 feet using the flag pattern. Whatever pattern you decide on, your chances of growing a big pumpkin will be much better if you strive for a plant that covers 400 square feet or more of area. Pruning is a vital part of the overall health of the plant. It not only keeps the vines contained within the space you have to grow in, but it improves air circulation for drying the plant surface to prevent conditions favorable to disease. When the vines reach the perimeter of the patch, simply pinch off the very end of new growth on the vine and bury the end, keeping in mind the optimum lengths listed above. Some growers cut off every other secondary along the main vine to provide more space for the remaining vines to have room to grow. This does take away some potential energy production from the plant, so it may be beneficial to allow the main vine to grow a bit longer to compensate.
- When you walk in your patch, avoid soil compaction by using boards to walk on and plan your routes so you don’t have to move the boards around as much to tend your plant and fruit. - Giant pumpkin plants have the ability to grow 2 tap roots where every leaf stock meets the vine. These tap roots can supply a larger volume of nutrients to your plant and roots than just the main root system alone. Most every grower that has produced a big pumpkin practice the method of trenching in front of all the vines on the plant and burying them just below the surface, keeping ahead of the plant as it grows. This provides the tap roots an easier growing medium is generally accepted to be a much more productive method. It’s a lot of work but growing a pumpkin over 500 Lbs. is no easy task.
- Giant pumpkins have nutrient requirements that change over the lifespan of the plant. That is not to say that you need to fertilize continuously. Fertilizer needs depends on your soil conditions and the needs of the plant. You will learn with experience how to ‘read the plant’ and react to it’s needs. The first 3 weeks the plant requires more phosphorus for root growth. From week 3 to 6 the plant needs more nitrogen to encourage vine and leaf growth. From week 6 to the time you pollinate your first fruit, phosphorus is required again to encourage flowering. From July 1 to about July 20, no additional fertilizers or liquid fertilizers should be applied to avoid your young fruit from aborting. From July 20 to October, potassium becomes the main nutrient to encourage fruit growth. Pumpkins also can draw nutrients through the leaves of the plant. The majority of growers today foliar feed their plants with a liquid seaweed or fish and seaweed fertilizer. This not only feeds the plant but can help fight disease. It can be applied 2 to 3 times a week.
- Pumpkins require huge amounts of water, 623 gals a week or more if your plant takes up 1000 square feet. Remember to water at a constant rate and compensate for rain so the soil stays moist but not wet.
- Around the last week of June, your plant’s main vine should be 8’ to 10’ long and growing fast. Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers, males having longer stems and females having a shorter stem with a bulb or baby pumpkin under the blossom. The males will be the first to show and will be followed by the appearance of females a week or so after. Once the males start showing, they will come fast and furious for the next month or so. This is the signal that the time is near to pollinate. The ideal position to set a pumpkin is at least 10 feet from the stump along the main vine. When each female first appears, try to make a small outward curve in your vine 2 feet either side of the female so that the female or baby pumpkin is on the outside of this curve. This is to prevent stem stress later on as your fruit grows to huge sizes and can actually press on the vine and pop your fruit off, ruining your season. Make the curve slowly and carefully over the course of a few days so as to not snap the vine. To preserve the genetics of your pumpkin and to increase your odds of a successful fruit set, you need to hand pollinate your female flowers. When the female is ready to open, the blossom will be about 3 inches long and get an orange hue. The same goes for the male flowers. This means the flower will open the next morning and precautions need to be taken. First insure you will have 3 male flowers available for the next morning. The evening before, take a gallon zip lock bag and carefully cover the female and the 3 males, sealing the bottom to the stem. Try to inflate the bag so the petals don’t touch the plastic. Tie-wraps placed gently around the top of each blossom works well also. Early the next morning, between 6 and 8am the flowers will open. Have a piece of yarn about 8" long with you, you’ll need it later. Cut the males off the plant first, keeping them covered and watching out for aggressive bees. One by one remove the bag or tie-wrap from the males and carefully peel away the petals to the stem, trying not to jar or shake the flower as you do. You will see the stamen left on the stem, covered in pollen. Don’t touch them or rub them on anything. Go to your covered female after it opens and carefully remove the bag or tie-wrap. Using the 3 males as a paintbrush, one at a time, carefully ‘paint’ and roll the pollen from the males over the segments in the center of the female flower, making sure the pollen covers as much of the segments as you can. Next, gently pull the petals of the female back up together, closing it off like it was before it opened and tie it closed with the yarn.
Congratulations, you just hand pollinated your first pumpkin.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. The prime time to set your fruit is between July 1 and July 10. This provides the right amount of time for your fruit to grow and be ready for Oct when most weigh-offs occur. If you only have one plant and are not concerned about preserving the lineage of your pumpkins genetic line for later seed distribution, you can let the bees do the work for you. However if you’re after a big one and want to do all you can to insure a good fruit set, it’s imperative to properly pollinate by hand.
- Once you set a fruit on your plant, your not out of the woods yet. Many times a newly set fruit will abort due to high heat, wet conditions or poor pollination. The best approach is to follow the pollination procedure above for every female that forms on your plant. If the temperature is in the high 80’s or above, place frozen soda bottles of water next to the new set to keep the immediate temperature down, provide some sort of shade for the new fruit and adjust your watering by the amount of rain that falls during these the 2 weeks following pollination. Observe the new pumpkins on the vine for 10 days after they have been pollinated. Note the shape, growth rate and skin texture as gauges for which one will be your main fruit. A good measure of growth rate is a 30" circumference at 10 days old. The skin of your fruit should be yellow, shiny and tender. One other aspect to take into account is stem length and position in relation to the vine. Your main candidate should be a fruit that has a long stem and is oriented as close to perpendicular to the vine as you can get. If all your fruit are at an angle of less than 90 degrees to the vine, choose the one that is closest to perpendicular to the main vine. You will be able to move the fruit very slowly up to ½" a day toward 90 degrees. This will reduce stem stress when the fruit really starts packing on the pounds. Use extreme caution when moving your pumpkin, it doesn’t take a lot to crack or snap off the stem.
- By August 1, you should cull your fruit down to the one fruit on each plant that shows the most promise, taking into account the items listed above.
Caring For Your Fruit
- Your pumpkin requires a lot of care if it is to have any chance to grow to a quarter ton or more in weight. Again, nobody ever said growing a big pumpkin was easy. You will need to place something under your pumpkin for it to grow on that allows for water to drain as well as prevent pests from tunneling into your fruit from below. Many people use a 3" or 4" bed of play sand while still others are now using belt material discarded by paper mills. As long as it allows drainage and prevents critters from destroying your fruit from below, you can use a number of different things. The most important characteristic of the material you use for a bed is that it allows the fruit to grow and expand, unrestricted and with minimal resistance. If a material such as styrofoam with holes in it is used, the chances of the friction between the fruit skin and the foam causing the fruit to grow concave on the bottom increases, and thereby increasing the risk of a bottom split.
- Shade is one of the most important items needed to protect your fruit. While your plant needs full sun, your fruit needs to be in complete shade to prevent it from ripening too early. The easiest way to erect a shade structure is to use 2 pieces of ½" PVC pipe or conduit crossed in the shape of a dome tent. Use dowels or rebar in the ends of the pipe to hold the ends to the ground and cover with an inexpensive blue plastic tarp. Use large binder clips to hold the tarp to the pipe allowing a secure attachment with ease of removal to tend to your pumpkin. Another method is to use 4 posts and a tarp pulled tightly across the top on a slope to allow water to drain off.
- As the plant grows throughout the season, older leaves and leaf stocks will die off and wilt. These older leaves should be cut off, insuring that the cut is at a downward angle to prevent water from sitting inside the stub of the leaf stock. This will not harm the plant, as new leaves will continue to produce energy for the fruit and will in fact help to improve the health of your plant and fruit. Excessive die-off , however, indicates a problem. These issues range from insect problems to disease infecting the plant, soil or both.
- In order to grow a big pumpkin, your plant needs to be kept as stress free as possible. Excessive heat is an enemy in that temperatures above 85 degrees will cause your plant to wilt, slowing down the energy process and thereby fruit growth. Frequent, short intervals of misting water over the leaves cools the plant by evaporational cooling and helps combat stress on those hot days. Sprinkler systems with a fine spray work well if nobody will be home to do it by hand, as the plant needs to be cooled every couple hours on those hot summer days.
- Another form of stress mentioned briefly above is stem stress. Your pumpkin will grow at astonishing rates from mid-July to mid-August in some cases gaining 20 to 40 lbs. a day. This rapid growth can put tension on the pumpkin stem as the fruit grows in height and its shoulders grow toward the vine. Cutting the tap roots under the 3 leaves in either direction of the fruit will allow the vine to move upward as the pumpkin grows. Supporting the vine as it curves upward toward the stem is also a common practice. Insure the vine does not rub against the fruit itself. You can train the vine by carefully pulling it away from the fruit shoulders with cushioned pieces of cloth. This method takes practice to learn and can run the risk of popping the fruit off the vine so use extreme caution when performing this method and only pull what the vine will allow every few days. It may also be wise to have another experienced grower demostrate the method before attempting it yourself. Cut off any leaves that impede access to the fruit or may be rubbing against the skin of the pumpkin.
- Your pumpkin can gain such large amounts daily because the skin is very pliable early on. However cracks in both the skin and stem do occur. It’s natural for the stem to develop splits and heal over as it grows in size, however deep splits are an issue. If a split or crack in the skin of the pumpkin goes deep enough to enter the inner cavity of your fruit, your season is over, as the fruit will begin to rot very quickly. If however a crack or split is superficial, it can be treated by applying a paste of either sulfur or a fungicide called Captan. Be aware that Captan is nasty stuff and you should avoid breathing the powder or getting it on your bare skin. Use common sense as with any chemical. Captan dries the moisture from the split area and prevents disease allowing the crack to heal. Many large pumpkins develop deep stem splits that do not go into the cavity, however if not cared for, they can continue to go deeper and ruin your season. The biggest asset a grower can have is early recognition of a problem and knowing how to react to it.
Thanks to years of research and effort by a group of growers, there are two methods a grower can use to estimate the weight of an Atlantic Giant pumpkin as it grows through the season. Growers use these weight estimates to gauge progress and interpret what the plant may need or is lacking as weights increase or slack off.
- The first method that can be used is by simply measuring your fruit at mid girth parallel to the ground and bouncing that measurement off a circumference chart
(See Table 2 Below). This method can give a rough idea of weigh, but can be skewed due to the wall thickness of a fruit or odd shape.
- The most accurate and widely used method is known as the Over-The-Top method or OTT. This method is done by adding up 3 measurements; circumference, side-to-side measurement and end-to-end measurement. For circumference, use the technique described above. The side-to-side measurement is made by holding one end of the tape on the ground vertically below the side of the fruit and stretching it up to the side, over the top of the fruit and down to the ground vertically below the other side. The end-to-end measurement is the same as the side-to-side only it is measured from the ground vertically up the stem end, along the surface over the top of the fruit and down to the ground vertically below the blossom end. Make sure you run the tape vertically down to the ground from the furthest extending point, not along the surface under the fruit for both the side-to-side and the end-to-end measurements. Add these three measurements together and bounce the total off the OTT chart
Late Season Protection
- Cold weather can sometimes come early in the northeast. Your pumpkin can continue to grow right up to the day you cut it free from the vine, only at a much slower rate. These extra few pounds can make a difference when it comes time to weigh your fruit. So extra steps need to be taken to protect your fruit and plant as cooler weather sets in.
Something that can be done to keep your fruit growing is to cover your fruit with a blanket or two when the temperatures at night dip into the 40’s. The blanket will help keep the heat of the day in your fruit for a longer period at night thereby encouraging continued growth. Another step that can be taken to prolong your season is to protect the plant when the threat of frost looms later in the season. Pumpkin plants have no tolerance for frost and even the a slight frost can leave you waking up to leaves that are black and wilted, ending your season. There are a couple things you can do to protect the plant when the temperature dips down to levels where frost is possible. One thing that can be done, although somewhat labor intensive is to erect a cover over as much of the plant as possible, keeping the heat of the day inside the enclosure and holding the frost at bay. This entails what amounts to a full-size greenhouse or a big cold frame, requiring quite a bit of material and added cost to your effort. Some growers will even use different types of heaters inside the enclosure to keep the temperature up. Another, somewhat easier way to protect your plant from frost is to run sprinklers on a timer over the plant at intervals throughout the night. The water acts to warm the plant surface and prevent frost from forming. In either case, there is added effort involved and it is up to the individual grower as to what extent one will go to keep the plant growing late in the season.
- Fruit should be harvested from early to mid October, depending on the weather and weigh off dates. Most will cut their fruit from the vine the day before the weigh off they intend to take their fruit to. When cutting a fruit from the vine, cut the vine a foot or two either side of the pumpkin stem and not the stem itself. This will maintain the integrity of the fruit and it will last longer when you display your big pumpkin. Some growers will even leave 3 to 4 feet on either sides and place the cut ends into milk jugs filled with water to prevent as much weight loss as possible prior to the weigh off. A pumpkin cut from the vine can lose 2 lbs. or more a day in weigh from water evaporation. If the fruit measures more than 100" in circumference, you’ll need more than two people to lift it onto a pallet. A pumpkin weighing 1000 lbs. or more will take 10 - 13 people to lift. There are many different ways get your big pumpkin from the vine to the back of a truck or trailer for transportation. Ingenuity or pure manpower is the key.
Several businesses online sell lifting tarps made specifically for lifting big pumpkins. These tarps are made of reinforced material and have hand holes around the edges for lifting. When using these tarps, roll the pumpkin up on its side, taking care not to damage or knock off the stem. Stuff one end of the tarp under the pumpkin and spread out the other end on the ground. Roll the pumpkin back on the other side, onto the end of the tarp spread on the ground and pull the other end of the tarp out flat. Now it is just a matter of muscle to lift the fruit onto a cushioned pallet on the ground or into the back of a truck. The current world record pumpkin of 1385 lbs. was lifted using this method with 16 men.
Some growers use a lifting harness around the fruit and hoist the pumpkin with a tripod and chainfall. Others will dig a hole in front of the stem of the fruit, roll the pumpkin onto it’s shoulders so the stem is in the hole, dig another hole for one end of the pallet to sit in so it won’t kick or slide and slowly lower the fruit down on top of the pallet. There are many ways to move your fruit and prepare it for transportation. Whatever method is used, exercise extreme caution and think the process through. Nothing can reduce a grower to tears faster than damaging or splitting a fruit during harvest and transportation or even worse, having someone get hurt moving your fruit.
The methods and techniques described in this instructional sheet are simply guidelines. It is not necessary to follow these guidelines to the letter to grow a big one, although you will greatly increase your chances the more you do follow. Using simple, basic gardening practices and watering methods, it is possible to grow a big Atlantic Giant pumpkin. There are also many other things a grower can do on their journey to produce a really big pumpkin not covered in these sheets. The final outcome will depend on the effort put into the plant as well as weather and mishaps along the way. The more effort and care a grower gives to the plant, the better the chances of growing a pumpkin of amazing size. Read the book ‘How To Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins II’, it is the definitive ‘bible’ on growing giant pumpkins. Problems will arise throughout the season. Expect them, be prepared for them and how to react to them. Whether your effort is minimal or bordering fanatical, whether your patch is big or small or whether your new to the hobby or a seasoned veteran, the fact remains that growing giant pumpkins is a summer full of fun. When people stop to gaze at your season’s effort on display in your yard around Halloween time, all the hard work pays off. There aren’t many things that can make people smile in October like a giant jack-o-lantern. And remember, growing big pumpkins is infectious, once you grow them once, there's no turning back, you’ll be hooked, and just maybe your neighbor will be too. "