Thursday, May 29, 2003

HOT, HOT, HOT - Can you stand it?
But our pumpkins couldn't be happier!
I've had several questions regarding the names and numbers on some seed packets. One example is "406 Thomas '02". This means the seeds came from a 406 lb pumpkin raised by Thomas (me) in 2002. Other information on the seed packet may include the lineage for those seeds - namely the female plant that grew these seeds and the male plant used to pollinate the female blossom. The lineage is written just like the seed's name: "female - 260 Thomas '01, male - 160 Thomas '01".
Hopefully you've all got seeds that have sprouted and maybe even plants in the ground. When you've transplanted your precious plants to their perfect spot in the patch, it is time to consider their feeding and watering needs. I follow the guidelines spelled out in the pumpkin grower's bible: How to Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins, II, by Don Langevin. I highly recommend this easy reading book with lots of helpful pictures and explainations. You won't regret this purchase!

Most growers agree on a set fertilization schedule that enhances each stage of growth. Fertilizers come in many shapes, sizes, and formulations. Each has a nutrient formulation on the package for the N-P-K concentrations. That is: Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. At the time of planting, apply a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10, 10-6-4, or 5-10-10. Once your plants are established, you'll want to provide food for root growth the first 4 weeks. Root growth requires phosphorus so use a fertilizer stressing a higher phosphorus ratio - such as 15-30-15, 16-32-16, or 10-50-10. Follow the label directions regarding quantity. I'll post more info later regarding fertilization in later growth stages.

Watering your plants is equally important especially in the heat we've experienced lately in western Montana. Try to keep the soil consistantly moist. Not too wet and not too dry. The big pumpkin leaves will tell you their needs. Because of their high surface area they respire quickly and require more water than most garden plants. High winds will quickly dry out the soil and cause the plants to wilt, as does the heat.

I hope this helps get you started this season. I encourage you to email me with your trials, tribulations, and triumphs so I can share our progress on this site. I will not use your name if you request it.


Friday, May 16, 2003

to get the most seeds to germinate.

It appears that Montanans are no different from the rest of the Pumpkin people.

Several of you have reported some difficulty in germinating your seeds. Hang in there, it is the toughest part. Waiting...checking your seeds in a zip-lock baggie twice a day...waiting...checking...wondering. I've gone 2 1/2 weeks before and the whole baggie was moldy and then it happened! I've started new seeds every weekend for the last 4 weeks. Some are up and taking charge of the greenhouse...some are still in the cooler with the heating pad.

If you've exhausted your seeds and patience, I've acquired some more seeds and can distribute them.

You have several options - you know the routine:

  • Send me a self addressed, triple stamped, bubble pack and I will return it that same day.
  • Pick up seed packets at the Ravalli County Fair Grounds Office between 8-4, Mon - Fri.
  • Check out the Homestead Organics booth at the Hamilton Farmer's Market on Saturdays, 9-12.
  • There may still be some packets at the EKO Compost office in Missoula.

  • Mail bubble Packs to: Giant Pumpkins, 835 Orchard Dr., Hamilton, MT 59840

    Hang in there, it still is only MAY!!!
    We still have time to germinate our seeds.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Having trouble starting your seeds? It is the trickiest part of the whole Atlantic Giant pumpkin growing task...

Here is a recent note on a message board, with some suggestions from the field:


I only have one plant growing, the others wont split, I sanded the edges, soaked them in water, left them on wet paper towels, even put a light above them to give them heat but nothing yet. I need to get these guys to start. I'm out of good seeds but I think these will be ok, they aren't mushey. So far only one, but its looking good so far. I also had other seeds but they didn't split and got mushey and rotted. I have 3 left, I'm hoping for the best.


(1) Try changing to BOTTOM HEAT. - Glen

(2) Have you tried the "advanced seed starting method" yet? Instead of nail clippers, I used my fingernails, chipped everything off the embryo, put in most paper towels in a small ziploc & put them on TOP of my fluorescent lights, over the warmest part, the transformer. Did this Wednesday about 1am; of my own seeds (594 Smith x 1062 Rivard) 100% (6 of 6) had a root at least 3/4" long this morning, less than 36 hrs. The 430 Bhaskaran was about 1/4" at 10am (1 for 1, 100%) and some of my
others were noticeably growing a root & leaves expanding. My only problem now is that the bed isn't ready. - Mark.

(3) I have had 100% germination with my tecnique past few years, no roted seeds, I sand the edges , soak the seeds for a few minutes in some warm water , then dip them in Capten (fungicide powder) , then push the capten coated seeds into the soil till about 1/2" of soil is over the top of them. Pointed end down of course. I beleive the captan helps prevent any kind of fungas or rotting that a lot of growers experience. - Hope this helps Brian.

I have more seeds to share, contact me if anyone would like some.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Well I've found a new favorite Giant Pumpkin website:

Excellent internal links with lots of detailed info. And the chat rooms are always interesting to drop in on.

My favorite part is the "Featured Grower Transcripts". Full of good discusions with some heavy hitters.

Check it out for yourself!

Monday, May 05, 2003

A New Challenge has been set forth!!

The folks at EkoCompost have thrown their hat in the ring for the "commercial challenge".

At the 2nd Annual Bitterroot Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off we will have a "Business Class" for those entries from commercial nurseries and garden centers that dare to meet the challenge of growing the biggest pumpkin. The challenge has been sent out to:
EKO Compost, P.O. Box 16810, Missoula, MT 59808

Ibey’s Nursery, 6170 Butler Creek Rd, Missoula, MT 59808

Earth & Wood, 3174 Hwy 93 N., Stevensville, Mt 59870

Empire Gardens, Inc., Attn: Kathy Wanner, 2259 Meridian Dr., Victor, MT 59875

Bitterroot Nursery, 521 E. Side Hwy, Hamilton, MT 59840

Moeller’s Nursery, 946 East Side Hwy, Corvallis, MT 59828

Caras Nursery, 2727 S. 3rd W., Missoula, MT 59801

High Country Ag Marketing, Electronic Scale Specialist, PO Box 525, Whitehall, MT 59759

What have you got to lose?

Your clientele will be wowed and dazzled by the progress and growth at your store site, and you’ll be able to tout the benefits of the fertilizer/supplement program you’ve chosen to raise your GIANTS.

Don’t miss out on the fun!

Start your seeds now, with utmost care during germination, then stand back and let the plants take over a corner of your commercial growing area. Giant Pumpkins are a true crowd pleaser and draw public attention, no matter what.

If there is another contender for the “Business Class” that should be included in this challenge, please let me know.

Good Luck to All, and may the most skilled "Business Class" grower show us who rules!

Seeds are going fast! I know I won't have enough for all of this years requests. Keep this in mind when it comes time to harvest your monsters this fall. I'd be happy to save and dry all your seeds.