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Remember when you were a kid, the excitement of going to pick out a pumpkin before Halloween? Remember how huge they were? Wouldn't it be fun to recapture some of that excitement? Maybe show off to your own kids, or your neighbors? Growing those gigantic pumpkins we all dreamed of as kids is simpler than you think. All you need is a little room, a little time, and a big secret:. Magic pumpkin seeds. Yes, you read that correctly, you do not want your average pumpkin seeds, giant pumpkins are distant relations to the little round jack-o-lanterns you scooped out as a kid. To grow The Great Pumpkin, you have to have seeds that are capable of producing big pumpkins and strong vines. Two good varieties are "Dil's Atlantic Giant" and "Big Max". Of course if you don't have your heart set on a record beating pumpkin, you can use the following tips on any pumpkin seeds, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
The first step in growing giant pumpkins is to prepare your soil. Choose a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day, more than that if possible. Dig a hole about one foot deep and refill the hole with well-rotted manure or compost and your soil. This is a hill. In each hill you should plant four to six pumpkin seeds. If you want to plant more than one hill, space them at least six feet apart, so that your vines will have plenty of room to stretch out. Keep your hills watered and weeded until your pumpkin seeds sprout. The seeds should sprout in seven to fourteen days; at this point you want to pull out all but three of your strongest plants in each hill. As the pumpkins grow you will keep the area free of weeds, so that your plants do not have any competition for nutrients. Once the plants are established and starting to form vines, you can take straw, hay or cedar chips and use them as mulch over the surface of the soil. This helps the plant to conserve water, and inhibits the growth of weeds. Every 3 weeks you should water the plants with any liquid plant fertilizer. If you are getting less than one inch of rain each week, you should also water you plants with plain water.
Once your pumpkins have begun to form, and are about the size of a golf ball you should pinch off all but one pumpkin on each vine. This allows the plant's energy to be directed into adding size to the remaining pumpkin. Continue to fertilize every three weeks throughout the growing season. As autumn approaches you will notice your vines start to turn brown and shrivel. This indicates that it is harvest time.
To harvest your pumpkins, wait until you are expecting several days of sunny weather. Take a sharp knife and cut the pumpkin from the vine, leaving about three inches of stem. leave the pumpkins outside for a few days to cure. Wipe the pumpkins thoroughly with warm water with a splash of chlorine bleach, to kill surface bacteria. Your pumpkins are now ready to display, on you porch, at the county fair, or, if you are really ambitious, go ahead and scoop it out, to make a jack-o-lantern.