Why should you help your giant pumpkin seeds germinate?
You want your seed to germinate and get growing as fast as possible. Giant pumpkin seeds can be big and tough, which means it can sometimes take a while to germinate.
Helping them will give you the best start to your giant pumpkin growing season.
Planting directly VS Seed starting
You might want to plant your seeds directly out into the pumpkin patch. There’s a couple of reasons why this isn’t the best option.
- Outside soil might have microscopic pathogens that could cause harm to your seed. It’s best to grow in some seed starting mix.
- Your plant might grow in the wrong direction. This can cause problems as you will have to train the vine early to go in the right direction. Increasing the chances of it breaking.
Items you need for giant pumpkin seed starting
These are the items I use to start my giant pumpkin seedlings. They are all low cost and many items you may already have on hand.
- Giant Pumpkin Seeds (Atlantic Giant)
- Nail File or Sandpaper
- Paper Towel
- Plastic Zip Lock Bag
- Marker Peg
- Marker Pen
- Cup of Warm Water
- Seed Raising Mix
- A pot
Giant Pumpkin Seed – If you want to grow a giant, make sure you get giant pumpkin seeds, more info on this page on where to source giant pumpkin seeds from.
Nail File or Sandpaper – I like using nail files (emery boards) you can pick up a whole pack for $2 which is great if you have a lot of seeds to prepare, ideal if you have children helping you.
Paper Towel – This can be any brand
Plastic Zip Lock Type Bag – I find the sandwich sized bags work well.
Marker Peg – Recycle ice block sticks, make them out of icecream container lids, or buy some.
Marker Pen – Something like a sharpie is ideal to mark everything with
Seed Raising Mix – Seed raising mix has everything your seed will need at this early stage and should be used instead of soil from out of your garden or pumpkin patch.
A Pot – Plastic or peat are your two options here. I prefer plastic pots as they can be reused. For size I like a pot that is around 1.3 liters in size.
Giant Pumpkin Seed Starting Method
Giant Pumpkin Seed Starting Method Step by Step
Step 1 – Name Everything
Write the seed number or something that identifies it on:
- The seed
- The plastic bag
- The marker peg
If you are worried about animals, kids or something else removing the plant marker peg make sure you label the pot as well.
Putting a piece of tape down the side and writing on that allows you to easily remove the writing so you can reuse and avoid confusions at a later date.
Step 2 – File the Edges
I find cheap nail files are an ideal tool to sand the edges of the pumpkin seed. It can take a little longer than sandpaper, but I find it a gentler approach. You want to file the edges of the seed all the way around, taking care NOT TO FILE THE TIP of the seed.
Step 3 – Soak the Seeds
Many growers will soak their seeds in warm water from anywhere from 1 to 6 hours after they have filed the edges and before putting it in the zip lock bag. They may also add to the water some form of fertiliser, Humis or Fish/Seaweed, or a mixture of other products. I’ve done this in the past, but to be honest I’ve not noticed much difference in germination times so am only mentioning this as a optional extra.
Step 4 – Place Seed into the Paper and the Bag
Fold the paper towel in half and half again, place the paper towel into the glass of warm water. Remove towel from the glass and make sure to squeeze all of the water out of it, you want a damp paper towel.
Carefully unfold the paper towel once and place it in the middle and fold back up. Place the seed into the zip lock plastic bag, seal the bag up.
Placing this bag in an area that has some constant warmth helps with germination. An ideal location is on top of a hot water cylinder. Other locations that might work for you is the top of a fridge, or a window sill that gets sun, the key is anywhere there is consistent warmth.
More experienced growers of giant pumpkins will be using heat mats to achieve this. Germination usually occurs between3 – 7 days, but it may take longer depending on various factors, don’t give up on the seed if it take longer than this.
Start Back Ups
Make sure to have back ups ready to go. I like to space these out 3 – 5 days after starting the original seeds. Having back ups means you won’t lose days if your first seeds don’t germinate. Which can sometimes happen.
Step 5 – Check Germination
When they have germinated you will notice they have swollen up a little, and the pointed end has popped open with a small root visible. Once this occurs, it is time to put them into either the soil or into seed raising mix and into some pots.
Step 6 – Place into a Pot
You’ll now need to place your seed into a pot that is full of seed raising mix. Planting the seed 1 inch (25mm) below the surface is enough.
Some people plant with the pointy side down, or plant them flat. I’ve tried both and not noticed much difference. If you are growing multiple seeds experiment and see what works best for you.
How long to Keep the Seedling in the Pot
You want to keep your seedling in the pot until at least the first true leaf has appeared. This will be the 3rd leaf on the plant. The first two aren’t proper leaves and are just the two that opened up from the seed.
Growers want to get the seedlings into the patch as soon as possible, but will need early season protection to make sure they don’t get killed by weather or animals.
Keeping a seedling in a pot for too long can lead to the roots being bound. If transplanting isn’t an option you may need to move the seedling to a larger pot until the time is right. This is why I prefer seeds being put into larger pots over smaller ones.