I tried to grow a giant pumpkin, and it was so much harder than I thought. I have grown tomatoes and zucchinis, and even won a prize for a zucchini as a child at a county fair. I totally thought growing a giant pumpkin wouldn't be that hard. I wasn't hoping to grow one of the really big several hundred or even thousand pound pumpkins or squash. I was simply hoping to grow one that would be big enough to carve into a jack-o-lantern, or if I did really well, one that outweighed me (still considered very small in the giant pumpkin world, but I thought one that big would be awesome).
So I got some giant pumpkin and squash seeds from the CT Giant Pumpkin Growers (more about the seeds on the seed auction post). I started both a pumpkin seed and a squash seed. Whichever plant grew would be planted in the garden (and if by some chance both grew, then the one that looked stronger and healthier would get the coveted garden spot).
I followed each step in the instruction packet my friend, the giant pumpkin grower, gave to me. I sanded the edge of the seeds with a nail file.
I soaked the seeds in a mixture of peroxide and water.
I planted them in their little pots and waited. While waiting, my awesome giant pumpkin growing friend brought this monster tiller over, and helped expand my garden. I was ready to plant a giant.
When the seeds finally sprouted, I was thrilled. Step 1, start seeds...success. Ok, at this point, I really thought I could do this.
The plant was ready to move to my freshly tilled garden. I was excited and ready to watch a giant grow. I was planning the photos I would take (lesson here---don't count your chickens before they hatch or in giant pumpkin terms, don't count your pumpkin before it grows). The garden was fenced in, the plant was safe, let the watering and watching begin.
My fence wasn't as secure as I thought it was. These cute little groundhogs found their way in, and ate and ate and ate. They seemed to really like the flowers best of all. Without flowers, there can be no giant pumpkin. As soon as a flower grew, they ate it. I blocked every spot in the fence where I thought they were getting in, but they still found a way.
Despite my plans to grow a giant pumpkin or squash, I grew a lot of leaves and some weeds and some flowers eaten by groundhogs.
While it was disappointing, I learned a lot. Growing a giant pumpkin is a lot more than getting some special giant pumpkin seeds and watering the garden (a lot). Giant pumpkins take up a lot of space, as my newly expanded garden is a decent size, and will still only fit one plant. One plant grows one giant pumpkin. So that means, unless you have a gigantic garden, you have one chance to grow one giant each year.
I may not be a successful grower (yet), but there is always next year. I will try again. I will continue to visit my friend's pumpkin patch and photograph his giants as they grow. I will photograph the giant pumpkin weigh off, and I will definitely have the utmost respect for the growers who put in so much work to get their giants to the scale (and those who don't make it to the scale because something went wrong).
If you are in CT and want to see giant pumpkins in person, be sure to check out the official event page, Ridgefield's Pumpkin Weigh Off