Giant Pumpkins are in!

pumpkin hotels

My giant pumpkins are in! Last week I managed to get them in the ground. They are being shaded from our intense heat and wind right now in these new low tunnels or ‘giant pumpkin hotels’ as I prefer to call them. This is the newest rendition of the low tunnels for them and I’ve had many designs. All I did is take one of my tomato cages which is made of concrete reinforcement wire and opened it up and put shade cloth over it (while they acclimate). I attached the shade cloth with clothes line pins and held the ends down with rocks. They are staked in the ground so the wind does not pull them up and inside each one is a pumpkin that is also covered with light weight row cover in case a squirrel comes in. As soon as they outgrow the ‘hotel’, I will take them off. They are about 5′ wide by 6′ long and if needed I can put row cover over the cage replacing the shade cloth for more light.

In the background is a strawberry patch I’m revamping but decided to wait before transplanting the ones growing out of their raised bed because they are June bearing strawberries so I want to harvest first. Then afterwards I will complete the move. Also shown are some of my tomatoes in their wall of waters. Some of them are now outgrowing the wall of waters so I am starting to take those off.

It is always amazing to me how desolate the garden looks when I first plant and how lush it will be later.  Nature’s miracle…oh ya and a LOT of HARD WORK!

Planting Giant Pumpkins-In ground- June 1!

Giant pumpkin inside low tunnel

On Wednesday  I transplanted the giant pumpkins in Bri’s Pumpkin Patch here at the property.

Bri, my horsey, is no longer with me. Last year I used her 2000 sq foot corral as the giant pumpkin patch and I got a New Mexico State Record-421 lbs for Giant Pumpkin last year. I think she is watching over them! I miss her terribly.

Here’s how I plant the pumpkin transplants that I started in the house.

1. First I dig out an area about 4 feet around and 1-2 feet deep where their root system will grow. This year I added generous amounts of compost, 1/2 cup of mycorrhizal, 1 cup humate, and 1 cup of worm castings and mixed it into the area. (I did not add any fertilizers as my soil test I had done in Spring said I was high in nitrogen, potassium, and potash, which is your basic fertilizer ingredients. (This is weird because the pumpkins usually use up all available nutrients by the end of the season. The only thing I did last fall was put some chicken manure on top of the ‘holes’. I didn’t even dig it in but I think the nutrients leached into the soil from the winter snows and increased the levels.)

2. Then I dig a small hole where I place the pumpkins and I add another handful of worm castings and 1/2 cup more of mycorrhizal (it’s dry granule stuff) and mix them together. This way the castings and mycorrhizal will be right in the immediate root zone in the beginning and the bigger amended area will be accessible as the root system grows.

3. I carefully peeled off the peat pot including the bottom so not to disturb the roots but if the pumpkin is root bound, I must carefully squeeze the roots to loosen them up so they can grow outwards. This year I didn’t have to do that. I placed the pumpkins in the bottom of the hole opposite the first true leaf so it grows in the direction I want and put the amended soil back around the root ball. I make a well around the plant so I can add water right to the root zone.

4. In a 5 gallon bucket, I added 1 tsp/1 gallon of water of liquid seaweed and about 3 drops of Super Thrive/1 gallon of water which helps immensely with transplant shock. Super Thrive is super expensive and super good. It has lots of the B vitamin complex in it which helps with stress-just like for us! I first watered the well 2x to make sure all the soil was soaked around the plant, then I added the liquid seaweed/thrive in water to the well.

5. I put the Seaweed and Thrive with the water in each day for about 5 days, then afterwards I normally give them water with fish emulsion once a week but for now since my nitrogen is high I will wait awhile. I do water every day with about a 1/2 gal of water right now.

6. I don’t put fertilizers in the water every time I water, normally just once a week. I will also add other things to the water once a week but will discuss that as I go along in the season. I still have to do a drip system for the pumpkins and will hand water them until I get it up and running.

7. I cover the transplant with a small piece of row cover to help it in it’s transition with the intense sun and wind and keep rabbits away. I tack it down with rocks.

8. On Thursday I put the low tunnels I previously made over the already covered pumpkins to protect them from the heat and wind even more.  Low tunnels are like high tunnels but only go over the plants. You can’t walk inside them-they are low!  They will stay on till the plants grow out of them at the end.  So far they are looking good. The soil is nice and warm at 70°F.

9. Saturday (today) I put the shade covering over the low tunnels as the sun is sooo intense right now. I can take it off once they adjust to the outside elements.

Can any pumpkin become a Giant Pumpkin?

Christy Harp with her 2009 World Record Giant Pumpkin-1725 lbs!

Can ANY pumpkin grow super big if you feed it a lot? The answer is no. Just as there are varieties of tiny pumpkins (like Tom Thumb-2 lbs), there are varieties that grow medium size (field pumpkins-15-25 lbs), big size varieties (Big Max-100 lbs) and then there is ONE variety that grows RECORDS-STATE AND WORLD RECORDS! The current Atlantic Giant Pumpkin World Record is 1810 lbs, grown by Chris Stevens of Wisconsin. The picture above is of Christy Harp of Ohio who held the record in 2009. This picture just shows you how big they are! They say someone will hit the 2000 lb mark within a couple of years but it won’t be me. I don’t live in an area that would be conducive to that-too short of growing season here in Santa Fe. It was hard enough growing a giant pumpkin 421 lbs last year here. Of course I’m trying to break my own record again this year!

Now that we are (finally) getting into giant pumpkin season, I will share my techniques for growing them throughout the season. Stayed tuned…