|Each year for the past 3 years we have been trying to grow big 'Dill's Atlantic Giant' pumpkins. Each year they get a nice vine and then die after getting about 3 feet long. They look good one day and then are gone the next. We have nornmal weather conditions and my friends grow them with great ease. HELP!!! I want big pumpkins this year!|
|It sounds like an insect problem. It could be squash vine borers, which bore small holes in the stems. The symptom to look for is small holes along the stem, and the vine gradually wilting and dying. Squash bugs and cucumber beetles are other common pests. I would suggest you cover your newly-planted pumpkins with floating row covers, secured at the edges with soil. These will exclude the pests. You can keep the row covers on until you begin to see flowers opening. Then, you'll need to remove the covers so bees can get to the flowers to pollinate. By then, the vines should be sturdy and strong.
Here are some tips for growing giant pumpkins: After the vines are established and you've got a few smallish pumpkins, cut back all the vines except one. Remove all but the one pumpkin that you want to grow to gigantic proportions so the plant will put all of its energy into ripening just that one fruit. Then water, water, water. Pumpkins are heavy feeders, so plant your potential prize-winners in rich organic soil amended with LOTS of aged
manure. As the pumpkin grows, put a piece of plywood under it so it won't rot where it touches the earth. Just to hedge your bet, plant several pumpkin seeds a few yards apart and grow one pumpkin per plant. From this collection, you can choose the biggest. If you want to pursue this in earnest, there's a book on the subject - "How to Grow World-Class Giant Pumpkins", by Don Langevin (Annedawn Publishing, PO Box 247, Norton, MA 02766; ISBN# 0-9632793-4-3).
There's also a web site on growing giant pumpkins at: