Over 1,000 pounds is the weight of the latest world records for the largest pumpkin, and it’s as so often with the ‘Atlantic Giant’ variety that the feat is possible! Also called “Pumpkin Gargantua”, it is a variety of the species Cucurbita maxima with truly spectacular growth. A staple of international pumpkin competitions, this giant variety has become extremely popular all over the world. Stefano Cutrupi, an Italian from Tuscany, is the grower who holds the absolute world record with an ‘Atlantic Giant’ pumpkin of 1,226 kg (2021). In this article I will tell you the story of the origin of this variety and at the same time reveal some little growing secrets to get a giant pumpkin in your home!
Atlantic Giant: Origin, History and Anecdotes!
It all started in 1893 when William Warnock of Goderich in Ontario (Canada) bought a 166 kg pumpkin, which was considered huge at the time. Probably of the ‘Gros de Paris’ Yellow Pumpkin variety, at the time the only giant variety available on the market in North America. In 1900, Warnock continued his efforts and achieved a 182 kg pumpkin which was also exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris where he received a medal for this achievement. Then in 1903 he again dethroned his own record with a pumpkin of 183 kg.
A Canadian seed company multiplied the Warnock line and offered seeds in its catalog under the name ‘Goderich Giant’, selling for 5 cents Canadian a seed at the time, which was quite a high price. Howard Dill from Nova Scotia in Canada, later known as “The Pumpkin King”, bought a few packets of seeds. In the late 1970’s, after several years of cultivation and rigorous selection, Howard Dill finally developed a new variety that produced even larger fruits, called ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’, the variety that is at the root of all records. Today!
The Secrets of Growing the Pumpkin ‘Atlantic Giant’!
It goes without saying that it is not enough to put a seed in the ground to get a pumpkin over a ton, but know that there is potential in the genetics of this variety to reach this level. Also note that this species needs some space to flower, so count at least 20 to 30 square meters in the garden for a single plant!
Sow in a pot, in a warm place, in a bright place in early spring (ideally around March or April). Take a container of at least 1 or 2 liters so that the plant can develop fully and also do not damage the roots when transplanting. Choose a good substrate, such as seed compost (especially not universal compost)! Seeds should be sown with the point down, taking care not to push them too deep. The other end of the seed should be visible on the surface of the substrate. The ideal germination temperature for seeds is 20-22°C. Be sure to keep the soil moist with a sprayer, but not too much so as not to rot the seed.
In mid-May, the plants are transplanted to a sunny place, when all risk of frost has passed. Add quality compost at planting to encourage root development. Mulch the base of the plant to limit weed development and most importantly to conserve moisture in the soil. To grow well, your competition drink also needs a large supply of water during the summer period. Water daily at the base, without wetting the foliage, both early in the morning and late at night.
By training as a landscape gardener and geographer, I am passionate about the plant world and its countless curiosities. Founder of the Rexania blog and activist for gardening in harmony with nature, I am also an Alsatian gardener, fervent defender of old, free and reproducible varieties.