The Great Pumpkin Palette: Exploring the World of Big Pumpkins

Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are miniatures, big ones, orange ones, red ones, bumpy ones, smooth ones. Learning about big pumpkins is a pursuit of mine and is fun and interesting. What are big pumpkins? What qualifies as a big pumpkin? Greater than 100 pounds (ca. 45 kg)? Or does it need to be much larger than that?

I am thinking that the definition of a big pumpkin is in the eye of the beholder. For example, a child could think a 125-pound pumpkin is a big pumpkin, yet an adult giant pumpkin grower would think it is small. The term big pumpkin does not refer to a specific type of pumpkin. Big pumpkins could be field pumpkins, big max pumpkins, or giant pumpkins for example. My personal definition of a big pumpkin is anything over 500 pounds (ca. 227 kg).

Big pumpkins have been getting bigger and bigger due to selective growing and advances in growing techniques. Now I would like to introduce you to Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. The largest of the big pumpkins. What could be more interesting than a giant pumpkin? Nothing I tell you.

Big Pumpkins and Giant Pumpkins

Learning about big pumpkins

Giant pumpkins are in a different category than big pumpkins. These pumpkins are of a specific type called Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. I would like to introduce you to the Atlantic giant pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima. This is the largest growing vegetable there is. It is a squash that captures the imagination of young and old alike. Pumpkins are the quintestinal thing to do during the fall and the Halloween season. Pumpkins of large size add an additional aspect to the celebration. Read on to learn about Atlantic giant pumpkins.

Do you know nearly everyone likes giant pumpkins? Do you have trouble starting a conversation? Have trouble breaking the ice? Do not worry, giant pumpkins will help. Mention your giant pumpkin and you have an instant connection. This can be useful in nearly every situation. Kids are particularly vulnerable to the lore of pumpkins. Try it!  From Backyard Big: Growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins in Your Backyard. Giant pumpkins are the perfect conversation starter for those introverts such as myself.  I have even started a conversation with a stranger by saying “Hello, my name is Jeff and I grow giant pumpkins”. No joke!

Origin of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Learning about big pumpkins

The Atlantic giant pumpkin was bred by a Canadian farmer named Howard Dill. Through selective breeding in the 1970s, Mr. Dill patented the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin in 1979. Soon, giant pumpkin growers came out of the woodwork and the hobby was born. By 2023, champion giant pumpkins weighed more than 2,500 pounds thanks to selective breeding and advanced growing techniques. Giant pumpkin growing is now big business, and the weighing and judging of these behemoths are sanctioned around the world by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.

In 2021, Stefano Cutrupi of Italy grew a 2,702 pound (ca. 1,226 kg) pumpkin, setting the world record! In fact, a pumpkin was grown in 2022 that was over 2,900 pounds (ca. 1,315 kg). Unfortunately, the pumpkin cracked and was not officially sanctioned. The hobby of growing giant pumpkins is filled with passionate gardeners and farmers. Giant pumpkin growing is said to be an addiction. Will you get hooked?

The Basics of Growing Giant Pumpkins

The first and most important thing to do if you want to grow a giant pumpkin is to find a partner in crime. A friend will help you immensely in this growing experience. Next, the site for planting your pumpkin must be carefully selected. Once the site is found, the soil needs preparation. Of course, you must find your giant pumpkin seeds to improve your chances of growing successfully. See my blog on finding giant pumpkin seeds. In order to get the pumpkin plant to grow, one must germinate the seeds, requiring a specific process. I describe my process of germinating seeds in my blog.

In order to grow the plant, it is recommended to use particular fertilizers for each of three basic stages of growth. Adverse weather, pests, and diseases will challenge your growing season. It is important to determine the best irrigation system for your pumpkins plant. Some growers use drip irrigation, some overhead watering, and some even hand water. It all depends on your desires and your situation.

Mid-way through your growing season there will be flowers growing on your pumpkins plant which is your signal that pollination time is coming. This is an important time and precautions must be taken to improve the chances of a successful pollination. Once you see giant pumpkins growing you will be excited! This is what all that hard work was about. There are many instructions to keep your pumpkin growing and to avoid problems. Last, moving your pumpkins can be challenging and you must prepare for the event.

Learning about big pumpkins

Learning more about Giant Pumpkins

If you’re looking to add an Atlantic Giant Pumpkin to your garden this year, then check out the pages on my website and my blog on learning how to grow giant pumpkins. It is entirely possible to grow a giant pumpkin in your backyard and have fun doing it. With a little bit of effort, the proper technique, and knowledge, you can

successfully grow a giant pumpkin in your backyard. For detailed information about growing giant pumpkins, see my book, Backyard Big: Growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins in your Backyard on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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