Want an easy and big thing for your kidlings. Whether homeschooling or institutional schooling in buildings, if you have a home with a yard, this is a great project.
What you need: 2 foot by 2 foot area for the giant pumpkins; home depot has the large Atlantic or other pumpkin seeds. But Burpee or some other national seed company is the best source for the maximum sized ginormous gourds.
Dig out and backfill (use planting mix mixed with soil) the 2 foot square area; you ONLY WATER this area, keeping it soaked. The kids can do this and chart the growth
Plant three seeds hoping to get two good seedlings; if you read this and want a free one, first to text me at 714 267 1413 early September, you can have my last three seedlings.
Keep watering. If you can, once you have a promising pumpkin from one of the female flowers, take a picture from the same spot every second day. Let the kids put it together as a paperless (or printed) project including the photos.
Have your students research on the web with your oversight. Here’s a great site at Burpee, the seed kings:
How to Fertilize Pumpkin Plants
Pumpkin plants have two kinds of flowers, male and female, which appear in early July. The male flowers show up first, followed by the females. Look out for the first female flowers. Look for vines to be strong and well-established before letting a female flower set fruit. It might help to break off the first female on each vine and wait for the second or third, when the vines are at least ten feet long. A female is easy to recognize: she has a baby pumpkin at the base of each flower.
You need a big vine to produce a big pumpkin, so in a sense you’re choosing the vine before the pumpkin. When you find a vine that’s strong enough and a female flower on the verge of opening, put a bag of cheesecloth over it for the night to keep the insects out. The next morning pick a fresh male bloom, trim off the corolla or outer petals, and rub the pollen-laden stamen in around the center of the newly opened female bloom.
There are options for fertilizing: using Miracle Gro Performance or standard is one way.
Another is to follow a pattern. Fertilizers have three numbers on them 10-15-19 for example. First number is nitrogen, then phosphorus and the last potassium, each doing specific things. Read on: Pumpkins are heavy feeders and will eat up whatever you give them. Different nutrients promote different kinds of growth, however, so when fertilizing pumpkins, it’s important to pay attention to what stage of growth your pumpkin is in and feed it accordingly. Commercial fertilizers come with three numbers on their packaging. These numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, always in that order. When feeding pumpkin plants, apply three successive fertilizers, each heavy in one of those numbers, in that same order. Nitrogen promotes green growth, making for plenty of vines and leaves. Apply a weekly nitrogen-heavy fertilizer early in the growing season to produce a healthy plant. Once the flowers start to form, switch to a phosphorus-heavy fertilizer for plentiful blossoms. When the actual pumpkins appear, use a potassium-rich fertilizer for healthy fruit.
However if you have five or eight kids and are too busy to monitor: Apply your fertilizer in moderation and wait to see what results a little gets you before adding a lot. If you’re new to growing pumpkins, a very basic and balanced 5-10-5 fertilizer applied moderately all through the growing season is much less intensive and should still yield good results.
Read more at Gardening Know How: Pumpkin Fertilizer Requirements: Guide To Feeding Pumpkin Plants https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/pumpkin/feeding-pumpkin-plants.htm
How to Grow Pumpkins
This is just the beginning of a summer of long but rewarding work. What you have started is actually a pumpkin-producing factory. Remember that there are 100 or more leaves to each vine and if you are trying to grow a 300-pound pumpkin, each leaf is responsible for up to four pounds of weight in your pumpkin. Every leaf, every stem, every hair roots is now receiving sunlight, absorbing water, and blending nutrients. All are traveling down the all-important stem to your prize pumpkin.
Giant pumpkins balloon out from the vine and if precautions are not taken, they will tear away and lose touch with their all-important stem. Since vines put out roots at every leaf, tear out the roots of the vine where it is close to the pumpkin. This will give it free room to grow without damage to the vine. Gently train vines away from the pumpkin to prevent it from crushing them, try giving them a nudge in the right direction every day.
When two or three fruits on each plant reach the size of softballs, remove all but the most promising one and start to prune the pumpkin plants. After the primary vine has reached 20 feet, pinch off the tips and the side shoots so the vines won’t divert resource from the fruit. Break off all the other female flowers A potential prizewinner is forming. The work of the plant now must go entirely toward nurturing this fruit alone.
It is important to remember that the only thing that will increase the size of the fruit comes out of the vines and the vines must get support from the natural root. For growing really big pumpkins, the most important things to remember are seeds, soil, sunshine, and water.
By mid-August the plants are pulling in water and nutrients at a great rate. Nighttime is when pumpkins do their growing, most expand two inches in circumference every night.
If it’s a dry season, give each plant 15 to 20 gallons of water twice a week. Water in the evening, and water only the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry, which reduces the risk of disease. One tablespoon of epsom salts (with magnesium) per gallon can be sprayed on leaves showing dificiencies
Some of those links we promised.
Dads, have fun with this. Pls comment back and even email or text your pictures; I love to do contests with groups like homeschoolers, formally known as domicilic pedagogists.
For example, your suggestions on how to make this project more kid friendly and educational. After all, together we are…
Homeschooling Grandpa Len
God bless you and always remember: it IS a great day to be alive!!