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Big Max Pumpkins

Big Max Pumpkins

Cucurbita maxima
Really big pumpkins.

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This is not the variety grown for record-breaking pumpkins (those are the variety "Atlantic Giant"), but Big Max produces great big pumpkins that delight young and old. They can easily grow to around two feet in diameter in all directions and can weigh around 100 pounds. (Be sure to allow only one pumpkin to grow per vine to achieve this size.) You may need to call in neighbors to move the thing--or just chop it up in the field and divvy up the pumpkin flesh. Makes dramatic jack-o-lanterns!
Number of Seeds 30 seeds
Spacing in Row 10 to 15 feet
Spacing Between Rows 4 to 6 feet
Planting Depth 1 inch
Days to Germination 7 to 14 days
Days to Maturity 120 days
Height at Maturity 18 to 24 inches
Width at Maturity 8-10 feet

Winter squash is easy to grow and performs well even when neglected, even when overgrown with weeds. Sow the seeds directly, six to eight seeds per hill, anytime from mid-May to late June; any later than this and the squash will not have time to mature before frost. Hills should be spaced about four feet apart. Thin each hill to healthiest three or four seedlings.

As summer wanes, winter squash matures. Harvest when the squash are hard, firm, and unable to be dented easily with a fingernail. Squash must cure before being stored for the winter. A well-ventilated greenhouse is perfect for this, but the field works well, too, if the weather is settled and warm. Avoid at all costs letting squash be nipped by frost while curing; this will create soft spots on the fruit that will lead to swift spoilage (eat such fruits quickly or process and freeze). Butternuts, Spaghetti, and Blue Hubbard Squash--as well as Long Island Cheese Pumpkins--will store easily until spring; other pumpkins will store for several weeks only.

Roasted squash drizzled with maple syrup and roasted nuts is divine. So is curried butternut soup. A well-sized planting of squash will bring you through the winter deliciously. You can never have too much.

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