The class is currently debating growing an organic giant pumpkin for 2011. You know, one of those sweet 1,000+ lb. behemoths. It will be a large undertaking at the beginning of the season but will end with more monitoring and less maintenance.
The plan would be to start with a small,10x10 ft. plot to grow just one pumpkin in. We have already ordered the right genetic variety, Atlantic Giant, that produces these monsters. We will start a few seeds inside and pick the healthiest plant to continue with outside.
The most work will come with the soil preparation and amendment. Hopefully a group of students will work together in digging a 6-7 foot pit in which the plants roots will be growing. The group will than be adding compost to this soil and mixing it all up to loosen the structure of the soil. More aerated soil will lead to a more developed root system that can acquire more nutrients, thus producing a huge pumpkin.
The key I have learned is to place PVC piping down in the pit at different depths while filling the soil back in. The purpose of this is to allow us to water at different depths in the soil. Watering only below where the roots are growing will force the roots to grow deeper. This should again help build a stronger root system. Later in the season we use these pipes to water every depth for a more even watering along with being able to supply more areas of the root system with water based organic fertilizers.
This should be a very interesting project to watch all year long, especially in the middle/end of summer when the pumpkin can grow up to 20 lbs a day. So come on down to our farm and check out what’s growing on.