Planting Giant Pumpkin Seeds

How to Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins the All-Organic WayAs I write this, Min­neso­ta is in line to get hit with anoth­er Major Win­ter Storm.

I know many of you in the north­ern lat­i­tudes can sym­pa­thize as we’ve all been hit, but it’s mid-April, and even by Min­neso­ta stan­dards, this is demor­al­iz­ing. Proms are being can­celled this week­end, the gro­cery stores are crazy, everyone’s watch­ing the radar while they make soup, and I … I have avert­ed my eyes from the win­dow so as to bet­ter ignore the wet slop com­ing down and bet­ter focus on my gar­den planning!

We hope to have straw­ber­ries this year for the first time, and I have a bazil­lion flower seeds to start this week­end, but I’m also plan­ning ahead just a cou­ple weeks so we’re ready for Giant Pump­kin Seed Start­ing Day on May 1st.

In Giant Pump­kin Suite, Rose and Thomas find the mys­te­ri­ous seed their neigh­bor, Mr. Pick­er­ing, has start­ed on May 1st. May Day is the day I start my giant pump­kin seeds — this is, I believe, our 5th year grow­ing giant pump­kins. We are not the least bit com­pet­i­tive, but it is always an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence, and the start­ing of the seeds is my favorite part.

I get my seeds from the St. Croix Grower’s Asso­ci­a­tion. These are sol­id seeds from prize-win­ning pump­kins and the mon­ey sup­ports a great local orga­ni­za­tion. Look online for your own local supply.

First, I file the edges with a fin­ger­nail file. This helps water pen­e­trate the hard cas­ing of the seed. Once filed, the seeds soak for a few hours. Water is very impor­tant for ger­mi­na­tion — water is impor­tant in the whole growth process for giant pump­kins, in fact!

Soaking giant pumpkin seeds

Final­ly, when the soil tem­per­a­ture in the pots is above 85 degrees (this requires a bit of a set up, as you can see below — and, yes, I use a ther­mome­ter to check the tem­per­a­ture) and the soil is just past damp, but not sog­gy, I plant the seeds, pointy end down. These seeds are noto­ri­ous­ly fussy and dif­fi­cult to ger­mi­nate; hence, I always start more than I will need.

Growing Giant Pumpkins

They will spend a cou­ple of weeks indoors in the laun­dry room’s make-shift giant pump­kin nurs­ery, then I’ll take the pre­cious fussy lit­tle plants out­side for a few hours each day for a good week so they can accli­mate before they go in the ground.

Usu­al­ly, the pump­kin patch is full of tulips in May … but maybe not this year.

Giant Pumpkin SuiteMay in Min­neso­ta is noto­ri­ous­ly unpre­dictable. We’ll wait for moth­er nature to even out a bit before sub­ject­ing the plants to the ele­ments. In Giant Pump­kin Suite, Rose and Thomas have to build a tent over the pump­kin plant and use a space heater — I’m always hop­ing to avoid that.

Last year was kind of a bust for us on the giant pump­kin scene. A hail­storm in ear­ly June shred­ded the leaves and the plants nev­er quite recov­ered. Hop­ing this year will have a bet­ter show­ing. I want to be clear — we do this for fun at our house, not for com­pe­ti­tion. Once the plants are in the ground, they most­ly fend for them­selves. Grow­ing real giants takes a lot more work.

My favorite part, as I said, is the start­ing of the seeds — it’s astound­ing how fast they grow. The details in Giant Pump­kin Suite are not exag­ger­at­ed at all. If you’d like to see some pic­tures from last year, you can find them here.

If you’d like to fol­low our household’s grow­ing adven­tures this year, check out my Insta­gram.


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David LaRochelle
5 years ago

The descrip­tion of how much the pump­kin grew each day in “Giant Pump­kin Suite” was incred­i­ble! Wow! As much as I love (carv­ing) pump­kins, my own attempts at grow­ing them as a kid nev­er amount­ed to much as the rac­coons always got them first. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to vic­ar­i­ous­ly “grow” pump­kins read­ing your book!