Giant Pumpkin Kit
Big Pumpkins and tiny microbes
Ever wonder how giant pumpkins can end up weighing over 1,500, 1,600, 1,700, and now over 1,800 pounds? Here is a synopsis of the progress made by giant pumpkin growers and how it can work for any home gardener, farmer, or nursery grower.
They began with a strain of naturally hybridized seed developed by Howard Dill of Nova Scotia. Howard Dill is the Luther Burbank of the pumpkin community. Early weights were pretty spectacular at around 400 pounds and eventually over the years moved up to 1,000 pounds and up through pollinating procedures used by all serious growers. The 2,000 pound mark is now in site.
For plants and fruit to grow rapidly, an abundant supply of all 14 nutrients required for plant growth must be available. Early pumpkin growers used chemical fertilizers the same or similar to what is for sale in virtually any nursery or even drugstore across America. But somewhere around 1,000 pounds, the growers hit a wall. Chemical fertilizers can have very complex reactions that can actually cause stress and deficiencies in plants. The next stage to increased growth then turned to an age old approach.
When growers began to add lots of compost, fish fertilizers, and other organic additives, their patches began to contain a greater abundance of nutrients that did leach away of disappear but remained available for plant growth. Weights began to creep up to 1,100, 1,200, and eventually 1,400 pounds; and then growers hit another funk. There was still something missing in their cultural matrix.
Microbes and Mycorrhizae
In the spring of 2006, Ron Wallace, a prominent grower from Greene, RI contacted Reforestation Technologies International, a leading producer of a beneficial microbe called mycorrhizal (MIKE-ORRISE- ALL) fungi. Ron described the current cultural practices used by leading pumpkin growers and questioned whether the addition of a MYCOS supplement could give him an edge in his pumpkin patch. Neil Anderson, the president of RTI thought that it might and Ron asked if he could buy 20 pounds of inoculant. Anderson said “No! but we will send some at no charge but if you win any prizes we would like bragging rights.” We were hoping for a state fair ribbon at best, but in September of that year, Ron emailed RTI saying that he had just broken the world record by growing a 1,502 pound pumpkin and was going to New York to be on the Martha Stewart Show to receive a Guinness “World Record
Certificate”. Since that point, the world record went to 1,689 pounds in 2007, 1,725 pounds in 2009, and 1,810.5 pounds this year (2010); all grown with the help of this beneficial microbe.
How MYKOS works
Mycorrhizal fungi is completely dependent upon host plants to provide it with food. It forms a “symbiotic” association that allows it to acquire carbohydrates in exchange for plant nutrients such as Giant Pumpkin Kit nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, et cetera. The organism also forms associations with other beneficial microbes such as bacteria and fungi that can provide plants with more nutrients, moisture and even protection from diseases. The associations between plants and microbes has actually earned the organism the title of “The Quarterback of the Rootzone”. In reality, it enables the transport of nutrients, moisture and compounds from locations far beyond the limits of a plants roots, making the entire garden patch a teaming factory of microbes that supports the growth of one giant pumpkin.
And it’s all natural
Mycorrhizal fungi is an overlooked natural organism that holds potential to reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers and actually improve the quality of food by providing a more balanced nutritional supply of plant nutrients. Recently, RTI introduced another proprietary and naturally occurring organism known as AZOS, which is short for Azozpirillium brasilense, a bacterium isolated in the Amazon Jungle that acquires nitrogen from the atmosphere (our air contains 80% N as N2 or Dinatrate nitrogen). It has been used by several pumpkin growers this last year including Chris Stevens, the new world record holder.
The Giant Pumpkin Starter Kit
RTI has collaborated with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth to introduce a “Giant Pumpkin Starter Kit” that includes the key microbes, MYKOS (micorrhizal inoculums), AZOS (nitrogen-fixing bacteria), CALCARB (CO2 foliar nutrient), a very comprehensive book on “How-To-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins the All-Organic Way” by Don Langevin and 4 “World-Class Pumpkin Seeds”. The seeds, which have been donated by leading GPC growers, can actually sell for $200 to $500 at auction and are capable of growing pumpkins of 1,000 pounds or more. Who knows, maybe the 2,000 pound monster that is getting closer every season. Growing pumpkins is an exciting pastime for any family, individual, or even a neighborhood. It teaches new growers about soils, chemistry, biology, and genetics. The members of the GPC are very open and available on blogs, websites, and maybe your local community. They are there to help and if that 2,000 pound mark comes soon, it is viewed as a club effort, not just the results of one grower. The members of the GPC are open, they want to learn, teach, and discover. New growers are welcome with open arms. If you or your family is looking for a very exciting opportunity to expand your knowledge, get exercise, spend time together, and enjoy your backyard, consider a “Giant Pumpkin Starter Kit”. The proceeds go back to the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth to promote this pastime that encompasses knowledge, family quality time, and an exciting opportunity to see the rewards of your fruit. And if you do a good job, yes you and many others will see your bright orange monstrous results. For further information, go to www.xtreme-gardening.com
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