Giant pumpkins! Oh me, oh my!

Did you know there is a carnival dedicated to Pumpkins in New Zealand? 

The Great Pumpkin Carnival was started in 2009 by Jenny Rowden as an event to celebrate pumpkins, showcase Hamilton Gardens and to be a fun family day out for people of all ages. It has grown exponentially and now hosted at the beautiful Hamilton Gardens.

This event has been extraordinary in many ways:

  • The Great Pumpkin Carnival is currently the home of the heaviest pumpkin every grown in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere, a 789.5kg pumpkin grown by Tim Harris in April 2016.
  • It was the location of the very first pumpkin boats ever rowed in NZ, with the maiden voyage taking place in Turtle lake in 2014.

So, just how do you grow a giant pumpkin?

If you ask anyone from the Great Pumpkin Carnival you will get very different answers. Everyone has their own unique way and the best start is to just try! The essentials to your success are good seed, good soil and good luck.

Good Seed

If you want to grow a world-record pumpkin, you can forget about every other variety of pumpkin out there except Howard Dill's patented 'Atlantic Giant'. Since 1979, no other pumpkin variety has been a world champion.

Good Soil

Pumpkins are hungry plants and love all the major plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), as well as many minor nutrients like calcium and magnesium and other trace elements. The key to growing a great pumpkin is healthy, rich soil that's had lots of organic matter mixed into it, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

Preparing soil creates the best foundation for a healthy garden. Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food improves soil health by increasing water and nutrient retention while encouraging earthworms and microorganisms. It provides complete plant nutrition with organic slow release nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for better root growth, stronger plants and more flowers and fruit.

Good Luck

If you can grow a good vegetable garden, you have the skill to grow a world-record pumpkin. Some newcomers have had great success and others have learnt over time. With the right preparation and strategy now and in the spring, next year you might just be a contender for the Great Pumpkin Carnival!

How to grow pumpkins

Step 1: Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil. Ensure it is at least 1sqm to give the vines room to spread. Enrich the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

Step 2: Form small mounds of soil that are spaced  1 m2 apart. Sow 3-4 seeds into each mound and water well.

Step 3: As seedlings grow, thin to the two strongest plants in each mound. Feed weekly with Yates Thrive Natural Fish & Seaweed+ Plant Food Concentrate.

Step 4: Water when the soil is dry, particularly in hot or windy weather. Mulch with organic mulch like pea straw to help retain soil moisture.

Step 5: Pinch out ends of rambling stems to help contain growth.

Step 6: Harvest as the vine dies off and the stalk turns brown.

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