The ‘Great Pumpkin’ Thrives
~ Samantha Lewis
Charlie Brown had it years ago, and ever since then both gardeners and children who love Charlie Brown’s stories (which will forever be a part of American holiday television), know how amazing it is to create that ‘Great’ pumpkin for all the world to see. However, it is also really interesting and important to note that growing those pumpkins helps the earth, and makes the environment so much brighter and healthier for the rest of us.
Now that autumn has come and there are events everywhere across the United States – from the Big E in the east to the Roswell, NM State Fair – those pumpkin growers are enjoying their moments in the sun. Enormous pumpkins are again setting records from sea-to-shining-sea, and the growth and care that gardeners, landowners, and kids who really want to be a part of the natural world (instead of the cellular one), have done is prevalent, as they ‘lug’ forth super huge pumpkins to receive that blue ribbon.
It was just one year ago (October, 15, 2013) in the U.S., that the world record was beaten, when a California grower brought his great pumpkin to the table and it weighed in at 2,032-pounds (that’s a lot of pies!)
For those who not only wish to see what they can do out there in their gardens, but also learn a fantastic way to better the soil of this planet, it is important to learn that pumpkins is a great way to do just that. Most pumpkin growers know that to help the earth and grow that mammoth pumpkin, they need the combination of the right seed, soil, and belief. Growers have to work extremely hard to take care of the pumpkin vines and feed them regularly. In addition, Mother Nature is a huge help – or can be a harm – if not researched well.
Environmental factors are huge and will affect the size of the pumpkin; from watering, to temperature of the soil, to how much sunlight is placed on the seed. Fertilizing is also critical, because the pumpkins are what you would definitely call hungry feeders, and gobble up everything from nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other elements in the soil as fast as Godzilla can gobble up the bad guys.
Pumpkin growing has also become a sport over time. It is highly competitive between growers and the glory is enormous when the greatest pumpkin of all is presented. Howard Dill is one name that is seen as the Rocky Balboa of this competition. He has broken the record nine times (1979-1982) during his genius run, and has garnered more world records than any other grower. It is his Atlantic Giant seeds that make this happen, and can also be purchased by other growers who want in on the action.
Just some fun facts: When a pumpkin like this is carved, it can literally hold 60 watt light bulbs, as well as a member of your own family. One pumpkin can also bake 900+ pumpkin pies from a single fruit, which makes Thanksgiving even more joyous. So how do you get the job done? Well…you’ll need to start in the fall, preparing the patch in order to have a shot at the acclaim.
The soil preparation is most important, so buying compost and peat moss along with a good water soluble fertilizer is necessary. There is also advice out there on how to amend the soil when it comes to tilling and making the patch ready to plant. But just make sure you are using compost and not manure. As for the amount of compost needed, laying bags of compost on the ground until it is completely covered can help; then cut the bags open and till 3 to 4 feet down for best results. Soil testing is also a plus, with many experienced growers taking the time to see what their soil happens to be missing. They discover the nutrients that may not be there and find out what the Ph of the soil actually is in order to add the parts that are lacking. As everyone knows, soil type is very different, with some gardens sporting very sandy soil and some leaning toward the clay type. Sandy soil is definitely preferred, but if hard clay soil is what you have to work with, then buying some top soil to loosen the soil up, as well as using compost and peat moss, will still offer you the perfect chance to see a Great Pumpkin grow.
The planet will be happier, the blue ribbons will appear…and Snoopy will be doing his Happy Dance, which is what everyone longs to see every time October comes around! Enjoy!