Who Needs Puny Pumpkins?
So you want to grow a pumpkin. Not just any pumpkin, but the biggest, baddest pumpkin on the block. You want a sumo pumpkin. A pumpking. With the right conditions, the right seed, and a dose of luck, you can grow a pumpkin that makes other pumpkins look wimpy by comparison. Just follow these simple tips.
What Big Pumpkins Need
Pumpkins love lots of sun, rich soil, and plenty of fertilizer and water. Prepare your soil by mixing it at a 50:50 ratio with a garden soil, such as Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Garden Soil. Work the mixture in about a foot deep. Once you've prepared the soil, you are ready to plant.
Start with the Right Seeds
For big pumpkins, many experts recommend varieties such as Atlantic Giant and Prizewinner. Simply plant 2-3 seeds several inches apart in a cluster. Tamp them down, and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Then water gently. You can plant pumpkins after the last frost. But you're going big, so either start it indoors several weeks earlier in a rich potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix, or cover the plant outdoors with a cloche (a glass covering designed to extend the growing season) or portable cold frame. The idea is to keep your plant nice and warm, with daytime temperatures above 75 degrees for 3 or 4 months.
Once your pumpkin seedlings have grown 3 leaves, remove all the scrawny weaklings and coddle your biggest. When you see fruits develop to about 4-6 inches in diameter, remove all but the one that has the best shape. Keep pinching back flowers and vines to force the plant to direct all its energy to your prize pumpkin. Place cardboard or plywood under the fruit to keep insects in the soil from burrowing in.
Watering Your Pumpkin
Pumpkins are thirsty, and big pumpkins are even more so. Be sure to keep the soil moist, but not wet. Also, remove moisture-stealing weeds. If you want to make your pumpkin carriage-size, feed it with a water-soluble plant food, such as Miracle Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, every other time you water. With enough moisture and nutrition, giant pumpkins can grow over 30 pounds in a single day.
Get Your Pumpkin on a Roll
Your big pumpkin might start to flatten a little, so you want to distribute its weight. You can do that by carefully rolling the fruit about every week or so.
Harvesting Your Pumpkin
Check to make sure the stem has become woody, then cut it from the pumpkin with a sharp knife, leaving several inches attached.