CUCURBITA maxima 'Dill's Atlantic Giant'
Plant Common Name
Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin, Winter Pumpkin
Usually grown for size, display and competition, 'Dill's Atlantic Giant' is known to have produced some of the world's largest pumpkins. Similar to the heirloom 'Atlantic Giant', the fruits of this cultivar tend to be even larger. Some have exceeded 1000 pounds (455 kg), but 400-500 pound (180-225 kg) specimens are much more common. Rounded to broadly obese in shape, they have smooth, somewhat lumpy light orange to orange-yellow skin and thick, golden flesh that is also good for cooking. The fruits ripen approximately 120 days from sowing.
Cultivated since ancient times by Native Americans, pumpkins and winter squash are warm season, annual vines originating from tropical South America. Rounded, orange types such as 'Dill's Atlantic Giant' are often called pumpkins, though true pumpkins are of the species Cucurbita pepo.
The vining, rambling stems of these plants bear large, golden yellow, trumpet shaped blossoms. Both male and female flowers appear on the same plant, and are pollinated by bees. The male flowers appear first, followed by the female flowers which can be recognized by the distinctive, bulbous ovaries at their bases. Following pollination, the female flowers develop into fruits; these are often masked by the plant’s huge, bristly, lobed leaves.
Sow the seeds of winter squash directly in mounds of rich, light, well-drained soil after all danger of frost has passed. Full sun is required for successful flowering and fruiting. To reduce the risk of fungal problems, avoid unnecessary wetting of vine stems and leaves. Monitor closely for leaf bugs and beetles, and for stem borers at the bases of the vines. As fruits mature in autumn, deer, birds and rodents may browse them, so protect as needed. Harvest before heavy frosts when the vines begin to brown and die and the rind is firm solid in color. Cut from the vine leaving a short stem, and bring a friend or three to help with the lifting. Take care not to cut or bruise fruits and store them in a cool, dry location, leaving space between for air circulation which discourages the spread of mold.