Pumpkins are a staple of the fall season. From delicious pumpkin pies to refreshing pumpkin apple cider, the fruit is used in recipes that make the season cozier. Who doesn’t love curling up in bed with a warm pumpkin spice latte!
But that’s not all that pumpkins are good for. A lot of pumpkin growing competitions offer prize money for the biggest and heaviest pumpkins that one can grow. If you’re planning to take part in one, you should consider the Atlantic giant pumpkin.
1. Characteristics of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
The Atlantic giant pumpkin isn’t primarily known for its taste. It can be bland compared to sweeter pumpkin varieties. If you’re looking to grow pumpkins for your fall recipes, you should look at varieties other than the Atlantic giant pumpkin
The Atlantic giant may not be the most flavorful, it still packs a punch where health benefits are concerned. Here are a few benefits of eating this pumpkin:
- Low calories: Pumpkins have a very low-calorie count and are packed with nutrients and fibers. Perfect for people who are on a diet.
- Rich in antioxidants: Pumpkins contain antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals.
- Boosts immunity: Pumpkins contain vitamins that keep you healthy and boost your immunity against common diseases and viruses.
- Protects eyesight: Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotenoids that keep your eyesight sharp.
- Improves heart health: Pumpkins are rich in nutrients and minerals, like vitamin C and potassium, that help heart health.
2. Special Features of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
It Is Edible
Despite its gigantic and often pale appearance, the Atlantic giant pumpkin is edible.
Helps In Crop Rotation
The Atlantic giant helps crop rotation since it can keep powdery mildew and bacteria away and optimize the soil’s nutrients.
Attracts Useful Insects
Like every fruit-bearing plant, the Atlantic giant pumpkin plant requires pollination to bear fruit. The flowers in this plant attract useful insects that help with pollination, which can positively impact the rest of your garden.
3. How to Grow Atlantic Giant Pumpkins
Prepare The Planting Bed
While pumpkins, in general, are not too difficult to grow, the Atlantic giant pumpkin is a different case because of its size. This variety of the pumpkin plant requires moist, well-drained soil that is organically nutrient-rich.
These pumpkins also require a location in your garden that receives full sunlight. Smaller pumpkins are shade-resistant to a certain extent but since this is the Atlantic giant we’re talking about, it will need every bit of natural light it can get.
The garden bed where you decide to grow this pumpkin needs to be free of weeds, rocks, and obstructions. Since pumpkins can’t grow in cold weather and take longer than the summer season to grow, you’ll need to prepare the planting bed in advance.
Before planting, mix fertilizer (like compost or manure) into the soil if you want your fruit growth to be huge. Once mixed, make small mounds of the mixture and place them in a location with full sun and minimal wind. Also, ensure to leave ample space (15 to 20 feet) between them since the vines of these pumpkins can grow up to 12 feet long.
After you’re done preparing the bed, you can also cover it with plastic wrap to help warm the soil by creating a greenhouse effect.
Choosing Atlantic Pumpkin Seeds for Planting
There are different varieties when it comes to giant pumpkin breeds. “Dill’s Atlantic Giant” pumpkin is one of the most popular and is available online and in garden stores.
You can also buy pumpkin seeds from people who have won pumpkin growing competitions but be aware that these seeds are often sold at exorbitant prices during auctions.
After you choose your seeds and prepare the garden beds, start preparing your Atlantic giant pumpkin by planting them indoors in biodegradable pots. Plant single seeds in individual pots about one inch deep, while keeping the soil moist and at a temperature between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can also create a similar effect as the planting bed by covering the pots with plastic sheets, removing them once the seeds sprout, and placing the pot under direct sunlight.
Once the frost passes, you can either plant a seed in each mount (if you’re going for the big prize), or two to three seeds in each if you’re just looking to grow pumpkins for Halloween.
Water and Fertilize the Pumpkin
For best results, keep the soil evenly moist at all times. Before watering the soil, make sure to add fertilizer to each mound to get your prize-winning pumpkin.
Encourage Giant Pumpkin Growth
To achieve giant pumpkins, pay attention to the details of your plant, from the soil and vines to its fruit. Once the vine starts bearing fruit, choose the best three or four and remove the rest of them.
This ensures that the plant’s nutrients aren’t used up on too many fruits. Once your picked fruits grow a bit, pick the healthiest and remove the rest. Now, your pumpkin vine will direct all its nutrients on the single pumpkin that’s left.
Days to Maturity
This variety of pumpkin has a maturity period of around 130 days though it can take a bit longer too if your pumpkin is especially big. The vines of the plant will turn brown and wither once it reaches maturity, while the skin of the pumpkin will harden.
Harvesting Your Pumpkins
Once your pumpkin matures, you’ll hear a hollow sound when the hard, outer skin is thumped. This is the time to harvest your fruit.
To harvest, use pruners, loppers, or a sharp knife to remove the fruit from the vine carefully. Leave around four to five inches of stem with the fruit to increase the shelf-life. It’s best to support the entire fruit instead of carrying it by the stem which may break and cause your harvest to fall to the ground.
Here are a few tips when growing the Atlantic giant pumpkin:
- Plant your seeds indoors around seven to ten days before the frost ends.
- Protect your seedlings initially with row covers. When the flowers start blooming, remove the covers for pollination.
- Prune your pumpkins regularly, especially if you want a giant pumpkin for a pumpkin competition.
- Pumpkins require regular watering but be careful not to overwater them or they will rot.
4. History of the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
The Atlantic giant pumpkin was bred by Canadian pumpkin breeder Howard Dill. He grew several varieties of pumpkins in Windsor, Nova Scotia, and was called “The Pumpkin King” after his earliest hybrids won at the International Pumpkin Association’s weigh-off in 1979. Dill then patented the Atlantic Giant seeds in 1979.
5. Where to Buy
The Atlantic giant pumpkin is available in various online stores, including:
How do you care for an Atlantic giant pumpkin?
Giant pumpkins require more care than regular pumpkins. Fertilize your plants organically every 12 to 14 days. Make sure that no weeds or other invasive species are growing near your plant as they may eat up the soil’s nutrients.
The Atlantic giant also requires more water, though you have to make sure not to make the soil soggy.
Lastly, prune your plant regularly so that your competition-level pumpkin gets all the nutrients it needs!
How much space do Atlantic giant pumpkins need?
An Atlantic giant pumpkin can take up to 1,200 square feet of space. In most cases, 15 to 20 feet between the plants are enough.
Wrapping Up the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Growing giant pumpkins is no easy task but the results are worth it. The Atlantic giant is one of the best giant pumpkin varieties and many competitors use it for competitions.
Excited for more pumpkin content? Keep learning all about pumpkin plants to become an expert on pumpkin planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!