Prizewinner (Hybrid Giant Pumpkin)
Latin Name: Cucurbita maxima
Item #: 249F
GIANT PUMPKIN for County Fairs and Exhibitions
Sow 3 lbs./1 kg. per acre; oz./28 g sows 20 hills, approx.
CHAMPION ADVICE: Some of the following tips are from the world champion pumpkin grower himself - Howard Dill of Canada, who harvested a 517 lb./235 kg pumpkin grown from this strain. By the time it was officially weighed, it measured 30 in./76 cm high; 44 in./ 112 cm wide; 43 in./ 110 cm long, with a circumference of 10 ft/3.05 meters; 493 1/2 lbs./224 kg.
SEED: Always try to repurchase your seed each year from a reliable seedsman- don't save your own seed, or you may lose some of the size and color through cross pollination.
SOWING: Sow seed indoors into 4 in/10 cm peat pots, using standard, well drained potting soil about April 15 - May 1, @ 1 seed per pot 1/4 in. to 1/2 in./6-13 mm. deep. Cover seed lightly. Germinate seeds @ 65 - 70°F/20° C soil temp. for 10 days. After seeds have sprouted, feed pots lightly with a soluble fertilizer and lukewarm water. Grow plants @ 60°F/16°C for sturdy, slow growth.
PLANT OUTDOORS: The official planting day for competitors is May 21st. Make sure you have a handy source of water, plenty of sunshine (little or no shade) and some sort of portable shelter like several 6 foot 2" x 4"s and a large sheet of plastic - to make a plastic covered "teepee", to protect and shelter the large fruit from early frosts and provide warmer day soil temperatures during the fall. If the nights are still cold, you may have to use your "teepee" to shelter the tender plants. ldeal ground temperature is 60-65°F/17°C. Plants will not begin to grow until this minimum is reached. Drench pots and plants in a starter solution of 10-52-17 @ 4 lbs./2 kg per 50 gal./228 liters of water. Be careful not to disturb the plant roots or break the pots when transplanting. Set plants out in rows 20 ft./6 m apart. The surrounding area should be well worked with a rototiller and about a dozen shovels of well rotted manure. Remember - every place the vine touches the ground it will root itself in the soil. Dust plants. every 10 days with Rotenone, Sevin XLR, Malathion or use organic controls for bugs and beetles. Water plants at the first signs of wilt throughout the summer - but don't wet the leaves (it encourages disease). Limit the use of insecticides as blooms appear to protect the bees or pollen carriers.
SOIL: A mellow, light soil that has a neutral pH is best. The ground should be deeply prepared and enriched with aged cow manure (1 year old - not fresh). Use about 1 shovel per plant.
FLOWERS: Pumpkins have both male and female flowers. Watch for the first female bloom (it has a baby fruit formed under the flower). The male bloom has a plain stem. To pollinate the female, pinch off a fresh male bloom, trim the corolla or flower leaf off and rub the pollen laden stamen in around the center of the newly opened female bloom. The best time to pollinate is about 11 a.m. before it gets too hot. Pumpkins put out several vines - limit the growth to the vine with the first fruit (cut off other lateral vines). Tie off the amputated vine ends with string to prevent insects from entering the vine. Remove all blooms, flowers etc. from the plant after the first fruit is formed to prevent further pollination. Feed plant regularly every 10 days with a weak solution of 5-20-20 and water.
MILK FEEDING: Some people feed their "pets" milk or beer. Make a small slit in the main stem close to the top of the pumpkin. Place a wick in the slit and soak the end of the wick in a tin can of milk or beer.
HARVEST: the pumpkin before frost. Store in a dry place where air temp. is warm @ 60°-65°F/17° C. Make sure you invite several strong friends to help with the harvest.