Pumpkins: The Largest Fruit

pumpkin at a competitive weigh-off in California.

pumpkin at a competitive weigh-off in California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pumpkins represent the world’s largest fruit, botanically speaking, that is.* The world’s largest pumpkin weighed in this year at 2032 pounds in Morgan Hill, CA. Now, that’s a great pumpkin! It takes about 100 days for the pumpkin to reach that size and the farmer calculated that at one point, the pumpkin was gaining 50 lbs a day. That’s a superphotosynthesizer indeed.

What are the secrets to growing a pumpkin as big as a smart car? It all comes down to a combination of nature and nurture. You need to start with seeds that have been bred for producing large pumpkins. Dill’s Atlantic Giant is a good variety and fierce competitors on the giant-pumpkin-growing circuit have paid as much as $1600.00 per seed from record-setting specimens. That’s a pricey investment you may think akin to Jack’s magic beans, but the prize for growing the year’s largest pumpkin can be $10k – $30k! Once you’ve planted your genetically superior pumpkin seeds be sure to pamper them with the finest of nutrients to support maximal growth. Some competitive growers swear by secret compost mixtures, but any nutrient-rich fertilizer will do. Multiple pumpkins will begin forming along the vines, but the best strategy involves culling the multiple developing fruits down to a single pumpkin. It’s always risky putting all of your eggs into one basket, but in this strategy the entire green plant will devote all of its resources into growing that single pumpkin. If you want a perfectly shaped pumpkin, roll it every week or so during the growing season to ensure roundness. Just be careful not to damage the vine feeding your pumpkin and be ever vigilant for pests like the dreaded squash vine borer.


*Fruit is the fleshy structure that holds the seeds of plants. The way that we typically use the terms fruits and vegetables in everyday language (say, when trying to get your picky four-year-old to eat them) are more of an arbitrary culinary designation.






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