Fall is here and either you have seen giant pumpkins at a weigh off and want to grow one or you have just finished your season and are ready to improve for next year. NOW is the time to start the preparation of your pumpkin patch for next year. Don't let all those leaves go to waste.  They are a great addition to your patch.  Grind them up if you can and till them in to your soil.  Maple leaves can be added directly now but nut trees and oaks are better if they are composed for a year before they go into the patch.  Fresh manure can go in this fall as well but spring additions should be composted manure.  When you smell manure close your eyes and think big pumpkin, it's a whole new experience.

What to expect ....
Returning growers already know it takes a giant plant to grow a giant pumpkin.  The main vine on these plants will grow 50 feet if you let it but most of us limit its length.  How big is a giant plant?  Plan for your plant to be 400 to 750 square feet.  That means a space 25 x 30 feet with as much sunlight as possible. 

What to do ....
Believe it or not next years pumpkin starts now with fall patch preparation.  Giant pumpkins are heavy feeders so we want to provide them with as much food as possible.  Rototill or turn over the soil in your pumpkin patch now and add some good organic matter.   Cow manure is good to add now and till it into the soil.  Also its leaf time soon but don't let them go to waste.  Leaves are a good source of organics for your patch and you need to put them somewhere anyway.  I use Maple leaves in my patch,  lots and lots all I can get.  I grind them up into a confetti like state before tilling into the soil.  I avoid oak or nut tree leaves.  You can use them but its probably best to compost them for a year first.  Pine needles are not recommended either because they don't break down quickly and also lower the Ph (not good). 

Fall To Do LIST...

-Select a location (remember 500-700+sq. ft. per plant which is about 25' x 25 to 30')

-Take a soil test very soon (recommended lab:http://www.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest/soilbrochdec2003.pdf )
Get your UMass information here and test your soil.

-Get ready to add amendments (a rotary spreader is a good idea)

-Find a local source of lime and other nutrients

-When you get your results back let us know what the lab says (we are most interested in pH, N, P, K, Ca, Organic Matter)