If you want to start growing giant pumpkins, I recommend starting with the Big Max pumpkin. This variety of pumpkins is not as enormous as the Atlantic Giant. Still, it is an ideal pumpkin to get into giant pumpkin growing. Big Max pumpkins can weigh between approximately 50 and 200 pounds (23 to 90 kg). Continue reading to learn all about the Big Max pumpkin.
As I mentioned before, growing Big Max pumpkin is not difficult, and it is also a pumpkin that can be used to make pumpkin puree and pumpkin pies. Throughout this article, I will explain everything you need to know about Big Max pumpkin, from its history, growing to harvesting Big Max pumpkin.
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What Are Big Max Pumpkins?
Big Max pumpkins are a specific variety of winter squash known for their enormous size and distinctive round shape. These pumpkins can weigh between 50 and 200 lbs. (23 to 90 kg). Big Max pumpkins are a variety primarily grown for shows (country fairs) and decorative purposes due to their immense size.
The most distinctive feature of Big Max pumpkins is their notably large size. They can grow to huge dimensions, often exceeding 100 pounds (45 kg) or more under ideal conditions. Big Max pumpkins have a round shape, and their skin is typically bright orange.
While Big Max pumpkins are not mainly known for their flavor and texture for human consumption, some still use them in cooking. Their flesh is deep orange and slightly sweet, making them suitable for making soups, purees, and other dishes. However, due to their size and decorative nature, they are often used more as ornaments in festivities like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Are Big Max Pumpkins Edible?
Yes, Big Max pumpkins are edible but not typically grown for their culinary qualities. The flesh of Big Max pumpkins is often described as stringy and less flavorful than other pumpkin varieties explicitly grown for culinary use, such as Fairytale pumpkin. The flesh might be watery and not as sweet, making it less desirable for cooking and baking.
However, some still use Big Max pumpkins, especially for making soups, stews, and purees. For example, we make puree and soups in our home with Big Max pumpkin. It is not as tasty as other pumpkin varieties but not bad tasting.
History and Origin of Big Max Pumpkin
Big Max pumpkins, sometimes called “Big Mac” pumpkins, are hybrids that belong to the squash family, specifically the Cucurbita maxima species, rather than the pumpkin family. These pumpkins were first developed by an Ontario farmer named William Warnock during the late 1800s. Their creation was driven by the intention of achieving massive sizes to participate in pumpkin-growing contests.
One of the most remarkable milestones in the history of Big Max pumpkins occurred in 1893 when Warnock successfully grew a Big Max pumpkin that weighed an astonishing 400 pounds (181 kg). The monumental pumpkin was so extraordinary that it garnered an invitation for Warnock to showcase it at the prestigious Paris World Fair, a significant international event of the time.
Before the creation of the Atlantic Giant variety, which has the potential to grow up to 2,000 (910 kg) pounds and has since become synonymous with colossal pumpkins, Warnock’s Big Max pumpkin held the record for being the largest pumpkin ever grown.
How to Grow Big Max Pumpkin
Growing Big Max pumpkins can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially if you aim for massive sizes that make them stand out in gardens and competitions.
Begin with quality Big Max pumpkin seeds. Look for reputable seed suppliers to ensure you are getting seeds that have the potential to grow giant pumpkins. Also, using quality seeds will provide a good germination rate.
Pick a sunny location in your garden that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Big Max pumpkins love the sun’s warmth to develop those gigantic sizes. The soil for Big Max pumpkin should be rich in nutrients and with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
If you live in a cooler climate, consider starting your Big Max pumpkin seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost. Use biodegradable pots and a good-quality seed-starting mix. Transplant seedlings outside once the threat of frost has passed and seedlings have developed a few true leaves.
Plant the Big Max pumpkin seeds about ½ to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) deep into the soil, either in mounds or hills. Keep a distance of 18″ to 36″ (45 to 90 cm) between each hill to allow for ample space as the vines spread out. You can sow a couple of seeds on each hill and later thin to the strongest seedling.
For Big Max pumpkin seeds to germinate, the soil temperature must be at least 70 °F (21 °C). Big Max pumpkin seeds take approximately 7 to 10 days to germinate.
Consistent moisture is vital, especially during the early stages. Provide water to the plants near their roots, ensuring not to wet the leaves. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system for efficient watering. Learn more about how often to water pumpkins.
Big Max pumpkins are heavy feeders. Provide a balanced fertilizer at planting time and feed them with a balanced or high-nitrogen fertilizer every few weeks. That will keep them nourished and thriving.
- Name: Big Max Pumpkin | Type: Heirloom
- Size at Maturity: 100+ Pounds | Days to Maturity: 110 Days
- Light Requirement: Full Sun | Planting Time: Warm Season
How Many Big Max Pumpkins per Plant
One plant can produce several Big Max pumpkins, but to obtain large pumpkins it is recommended to leave only 1 to 2 pumpkins per plant. So, if your goal is to get a giant Big Max pumpkin I recommend only leaving 1 to 2 pumpkins per plant.
How and When to Harvest Big Max Pumpkin
Big Max pumpkins typically take around 110 to 120 days to maturity. Harvest them when they have achieved their full size, the skin has turned a deep and consistent orange, and the stem starts to dry and crack.
One of the telltale signs that your Big Max pumpkins are ready for harvest is the skin color. As they mature, the skin will transition from orange to a deep, consistent orange color. This rich orange hue strongly indicates that the pumpkin is nearing its peak.
Examine the stem that connects the Big Max pumpkin to the vine. As the pumpkin matures, the stem will dry out and crack. That is a positive sign that the pumpkin is ready to be harvested. When the stem is no longer green and is starting to turn brown and woody, it is an excellent time to prepare for harvest.
Gently press your fingernail against the pumpkin’s skin. If the skin is hard and resists your nail, it is a sign that the pumpkin has reached maturity. If your nail easily punctures the skin, it might be too early for harvest.
Cut the stem about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) above the pumpkin. Leaving a small stem in the pumpkin helps to preserve the pumpkin.
Once harvested, cure your Big Max pumpkins by placing them in a warm, dry area for about two weeks. That toughens the skin and extends its storage life. Store them in a cool, dry spot, ideally around 50-55°F (10-13°C).
How to Cook Big Max Pumpkin
When it comes to pumpkins, the Big Max variety stands out due to its impressive size and vibrant orange color. While it is true that Big Max pumpkins might not be considered the tastiest option compared to some other pumpkin varieties, they still offer a lot of culinary potential. Here are some ideas for what you can cook with Big Max pumpkin:
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Pumpkin Puree for Baking
- Pumpkin and Cheese Casserole
- Pumpkin and Bean Chili
- Pumpkin Pie
In conclusion, while the Big Max pumpkin might not be renowned for its taste as some other varieties, its impressive size and vibrant appearance make it a captivating addition to any garden. If you want to start growing giant pumpkins, I recommend starting with the Big Max pumpkin. I hope this article will be helpful and you will have an excellent crop and harvest.