How to grow a large pumpkin

Pumpkins are large, rambling growers that need to be transplanted into your garden by mid-June if you are growing them for Halloween.   These plants are lovers of a rich, composted soil and do well when planted into the outskirts of a going compost pile, or into the zone that once had a compost pile on top of it.  If not using your compost pile as a site to grow your pumpkin, look for an area that will receive as much sun and heat as possible.  A southwest facing hillside is ideal.  Having found your location, you can prepare the soil by loosening a patch 2-3 feet wide and adding one bucketful of compost and 6 cups each of landscape mix and worm castings.  Thoroughly incorporate the ingredients into your soil and plant between two and four seedlings into this prepared area.  Build a moat around your plants and water them deeply, letting the soil surface dry out between waterings. As the plants grow, let them run out as far as they can, if you are growing pumpkins in a tight area, you can pick up and move the vines and dictate where they grow.   Conventional lore holds that you pick off the first young pumpkin that sets and begins to grow.  This will encourage the plant to redouble its efforts and increase the energy that gets put into flower production.  If you are trying to grow the largest pumpkin that you can, allow two or three flowers to set fruit, inspect and choose the strongest appearing one and then pick off every other one that starts to grow.  This will cause the plant to direct all of its energies into the chosen one and lead to a bigger fruit.  If instead, you want to maximize your harvest in terms of number of pumpkins produced, just let the plant grow on its own, depending on variety, each vine can produce between 3-6 fruits a piece.  In the late summer to early fall, the vine will begin to wither and the leaves will fall prey to powdery mildew, yellow and die.  Do not worry, this is just the natural progression of things.  The pumpkins will continue to ripen and turn orange as the plant around them dies.

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