Giant pumpkin season is here. The serious competitive growers are stretching closer every year to a 1-ton world record. The current record, set last year, is 1,818.5 lbs. You can see that pumpkin here.
My own attempts are far more modest. I read some books about serious pumpkin growing a number of years ago and found myself hooked. Backyard Giants is a terrific account of the early competitive growers that got the sport rolling, and I suspect I’m not the only one who caught the bug by reading it. For the best advice on how to grow a giant yourself, Don Langevin’s books are the definitive resources. There’s even an organic edition for those wishing to avoid the nastier pesticides/herbicides.
Several years ago, I grew some ordinary pumpkins in our small backyard and had such a good time that I expanded operations, digging up a larger plot and scoring a 50-pounder the following summer. By 2010, I’d grown obsessed (I get obsessed with things) and managed to grow a 314-pounder, pictured below:
Last year I had a nice one growing in August but a groundhog chewed it up and I couldn’t save it. Most serious growers have at least a half-dozen plants, so if catastrophe occurs they always have backups. Our yard is simply too small to handle more than one. My patch is about 300 square feet and really ought to be double that. A single vine will easily fill the space in the course of a summer. But having only one heightens the drama, I suppose, and it’s definitely possible to grow a 500-pounder in my yard if everything goes well.
There’s a good chance this is the last year I’ll be growing big pumpkins, although one can never tell with obsessional behavior. I have seeds of excellent lineage (more on that in future posts) and will plant them indoors, in peat pots, in the next week or two. I always start with 4-6 plants and go with the strongest grower.
I’ll be writing updates every Tuesday throughout the season, detailing each step of the way and, I hope, growing a nice fat pumpkin for the fall.