Isanti County Master Gardener
“Promote Pumpkin Awareness” continues to be the message Adam Schutte and Bob Ricke broadcast. Adam and Bob of Crown have learned a lot and are satisfied with their first endeavor of growing a giant pumpkin. They have conversed with other pumpkin growers and gone on giant pumpkin tours.
Adam and Bob have two great pumpkins—one’s estimated weight is about 500 pounds and the other one weighs about 650 pounds. Pumpkin growers have an “estimator” that will estimate, with fair accuracy, weight by taking a few measurements. Their original “great pumpkin” died due to vine rot. So, they turned their attention to two pumpkins that were growing from another plant. (Typically, a grower will remove all but one pumpkin, but they decided to let both backup pumpkins stay on the vine).
Consistent watering and weekly fertilization are required to grow large pumpkins: one day, one pumpkin grew 37 pounds. However, typical growth in August was in the 20-30 pounds range. The weekly fertilization stopped the middle of September.
These gardeners did have some challenges such as vine borer and frosts. During the early fall frost, the sprinkler was turned on during the wee hours of the morning to prevent frost. The frost has taken care of the leaves, but the vines are still green so some growth is still occurring. The pumpkins are covered with quilts in early October during cold temps until they were loaded up for their official weigh-in held Oct. 13 at the Stillwater Harvest Fest.
Adam and Bob concur that most of the work was simply getting the plant going, the feeding and watering. Next year, they plan to have some sort of automated watering system.
Adam and Bob already have their pumpkin seeds for next year. And these gardeners will save the seeds from their largest pumpkin. Adam and Bob will give anyone interested in growing giant pumpkins some seeds. You can contact Adam at 783-856-0191.
For more information, visit the U of Minnesota Extension website at www.extension.umn.edu or call Isanti County Master Gardeners at 763-689-8254. You can also visit us on Facebook: Isanti County Master Gardeners.