If you want to grow giant pumpkins you need to the right seed. This page talks about what you need and where to get it from.
What Type of Seed do you Need to Grow a Giant Pumpkin?
The type of pumpkin seed you need is Atlantic Giant, known by the botanical name of Cucurbita maxima.
The Atlantic Giant seed has been bred over many years to produce the huge pumpkins we have now. Howard Dill is the man that bred these amazing seeds.
Over the years growers have been crossing different genetics to get bigger and bigger pumpkins.
Wanting the best seeds
If you are new to growing giant pumpkins it is easy to get caught in the mindset that you need the best seeds you can get your hands on. But do you really?
It’s up to you on what you do. But here’s my thinking.
If you can get some seeds for free that’s great. Otherwise just get some Atlantic Giant seeds from the easiest source.
The difference between really good giant pumpkin seeds and open pollinated giant pumpkin seeds is minimal if you aren’t committed to putting in the work. From soil to watering, to care and everything else that goes into giant pumpkin growing. Otherwise an amazing seed will only perform average at best.
Does it Matter Where the Seeds Come From?
The main point is to make sure they are Atlantic Giant Cucurbita maxima seeds. These will give you the biggest pumpkin variety out there.
Getting seeds with known genetics can help a lot as well. This can give you an indication of how the pumpkin might turn out in the future by looking at it’s family tree.
But first, let’s look at where you can actually get the seeds from.
New Zealand Based Growers
You have a couple of options available to you.
- Right here on the GPNZ shop. – See what I have available on the shop page.
- Other growers – Find out if anyone local to you grows giants, find them via Facebook or reach out to me and I can see who could help you out.
- Trademe / Facebook Marketplace – Some growers will be selling their seeds on this platforms. Other people will be selling generic giant pumpkin seeds as well.
- Kings Seeds – Another option for generic open pollinated giant pumpkin seeds. Also good to talk to if you need bulk seeds.
SEEDS FROM OVERSEAS – RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR NEW ZEALAND
Since 01/09/2016 the rules were tightened to get seeds into New Zealand.
Seeds coming into NZ MUST be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.
Without this certificate you may be interviewed about what you are doing. Face a fine or potential jail time. MPI takes this stuff seriously.
We know of them interviewing people who were sent seeds randomly in the mail. Not an experience they would want to repeat.
A phyto certificate is hard to get for a small number of seeds without help overseas. Currently we are unable to achieve this.
If anything changes, or the possibility of seeds from overseas being able to be imported we will let you know.
Other growers – The best and biggest website in the world to connect with other growers is BigPumpkins.com check it out, everyone is really helpful there, the message boards is the place to look and become involved. Also keep an eye out for seed auctions, a great way to get good seeds and help out giant pumpkin growing clubs.
Different websites – Check out these sites to see what they have for sale. There may be others, but they sometimes they shut down or don’t work. Pays to ask around locally to see what other people use.
How many pumpkin seeds will you need?
It’s better you have too many than not enough. Make sure you have backups for when you start growing. Nothing worse than the start of your season hitting a problem and not being able to recover from it.
The benefit of knowing the pumpkin seeds history
If you are researching pumpkin seeds, either seeds you already have on hand, or seeds you may be looking at purchasing. Knowing the seeds history can help.
I like to give the example of giant pumpkins and their seeds being similar to how horses are bred.
Good pumpkins come from other pumpkins. Knowing the history can help in these ways:
- It can help show future potential this seed may contain
- It can help justify the price of the seed
- It could help you decide on a trait you are looking for i.e. going heavy, bright orange etc
How to research seeds
There’s a couple of different ways to help you research giant pumpkin seeds.
Other growers – talk to other growers and see if they have grown the seed before. They will be able to give their opinion on it, and hopefully share some photos as well.
Bigpumpkins.com – Put your pumpkin seeds number or name into the search box and see if it has been mentioned on the site.
Pumpkin Fanatic Tool – This website has a large database of pumpkin family trees.
Enter in the pumpkins weight and pick the correct one. You will then see where that seed was bred from.
Not all seeds are in the database. If your seed isn’t, try putting in the parents or grandparents of the seed. You may find information that way.
How can the numbers and info be verified?
A lot of trust goes into giant pumpkin seeds.
This is why it is better to get your seeds from a giant pumpkin grower. They want people to grow their seeds, have no reason to to deceive you. If word got out that a grower was, they wouldn’t last long in the pumpkin growing world.
Remember that there can be variation between seeds from one pumpkin.
What do the numbers mean?
When talking about giant pumpkin seeds with growers or looking at them online to buy you may be wondering what all the numbers often referred to are.
Not all pumpkin seeds will have this much information available.
Here’s an example I have of a seed from a 2016 pumpkin. Let’s break down what it all means.
– 1045.5 – This is the weight of the pumpkin the seed was removed from. This is in lbs as the seed originated from the Northern Hemisphere.
– Zaychkowsky – This is the surname of the person that grew the pumpkin
– 2016 – This is the year the pumpkin was grown
– 1625.5 Gantner – This is the seed that was planted originally, it’s female flowers were pollinated to produce the above pumpkin
– 1317 Clementz – This is the male plant that was used to pollinate the female plant (1625.5 Gantner)
– 17% heavy – This is how much it went heavier than it’s estimated weight
With the female and male plant both crossed, you ended up with the 1045.5 Zaychkowsky
If it only had 1625.5 Gantner mentioned, then I would assume that it had been self pollinated by itself, or it would have just had self written on the packet.
The family tree of the 1045.5 Zaychkowsky
As mentioned before I went to http://tools.pumpkinfanatic.com/ and typed in 1045.5, from the list I picked the correct pumpkin and got this result.
You can see the previous generations of seeds that were crossed to produce this seed.
What to do with all of this information?
With this information, you have found you can make an informed decision on what you would like to grow. You can see how it has grown for other people, the colour the pumpkin is and the weights it has achieved.
Reach out or ask other people if they have grown the seed you have. What were their results, would they grow it again?
I like to keep track of seeds I have by putting all this info into a spreadsheet, allowing me an easy way to compare all of the seeds. When you get into giant pumpkin growing you will most likely have a lot more seeds than you are able to grow, so decisions will have to be made.
Variation between seeds
Remember there will be some variation between seeds from the same pumpkin, some might not even grow. Having backups is important.
Traits to look for:
– Very fast growing pumpkins
– Pumpkins that weighed heavier than predicted using charts, usually represented by a percentage eg. +20%
– A nice orange colour (if that’s what you want)
– Ones that are prone to stem split (not good)
A lot of research early on can have big benefits later on. It could give you an advantage over other growers.
Getting the correct variety is the first step when it comes to growing giant pumpkins. It is up to you how far down the pumpkin rabbit hole you go.
The most important thing is to have fun growing giant pumpkins. Use what you can get and learn from others.