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Pumpkins, Giant

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  1. Starting Seed: Though seed can be started directly in the garden, to grow a true ‘Giant’ it is best to start indoors. Sow 3-5 seeds, each in an extra-large jiffy pot or suitable container about 3 weeks before setting out. Keep in mind there will be a good root system developed in 3 weeks and the less you disturb the roots while transplanting the better. Before setting out, choose the most vigorous plant(s) depending on the garden space you have available.
  2. Choosing the Site: These ‘giants’ take up a lot of space as vines can grow over 30 feet in length so choose a site that gives you enough space to support at least one plant. Full sun and shelter from the wind is most important.
  3. Preparing the Soil: Preparation of the soil should begin the previous fall, working the soil with plenty of organic matter. Cow and/or sheep manure is ideal. In the spring rework the soil to a depth of 9-10 inches adding more organic matter.
  4. Transplanting: Set out plants when temperatures are 65 to 70° F when the ground is warming and all danger of frost has passed. Shelter the plants from wind to ensure they have a good start.
  5. Pollination: All vine crops have both male and female blooms. If bees are not active in your garden you will have to do the pollinating yourself. In the morning, using a feather or Q-tip transfer pollen from the male to the female blooms (female blooms have a small pumpkin behind the bloom, male have none).
  6. Select the Best Specimen: Usually the first fruit that forms near the base will not be the best prospect. It is best to select one 10-15 feet from the center of the plant on a sturdy vine with lots of leaves. Do not allow any more than two fruit to remain on one plant.
  7. Fertilizing and Watering: Intensive watering and feeding begins when fruit is about the size of a football. Squeeze a handful of soil, if it is not moist, watering is in order. Many growers use up to 400 gallons of water per week. Apply water either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid baking of the soil. Use a good liquid fertilizer about twice a week.