I am not sure if someone else in town is trying to grow a giant pumpkin, but if you are looking for competition, you are likely to win this year. I planted three mounds of giants including the seed liberated from a giant pumpkin at the farmers market last fall and there is only one plant still going.
That one plant finally flowered last week, so it’s not on pace with the big boys who are going to the state fair.
I started several pumpkins indoors this spring before the last frost and lost some when I hardened the plants off. Only one survived through a week or two of transplanting. The early start was supposed to get a leg up on the growing season for the pumpkin, but after the frost I started a few more mounds with new seeds.
Pumpkin 1 was planted near the fence in full sun, near my horseradish plants. It was clearly a strong plant, a vigorous vine with robust leaves that were growing every day. They took a turn out of my yard and the vine moved its way into the neighbor’s yard. My neighbor welcomed the delightful prospect of sharing the parental responsibilities of a giant pumpkin, and she agreed to joint custody. Unfortunately, the vine that stretched down her sidewalk took a turn for the worse and has been sent to the compost.
Pumpkin 2 was also planted near the fence. Last year the knife sharpener shared a few seeds from the giant pumpkin he purchased at the neighboring booth that was selling 100-pound pumpkins at the farmers market. After he sliced his big boy for a giant carving, he kindly shared some seeds for me to try this year. This special plant might not be in the best soil, as the progress has been slow, and the plant is just small. I wonder if the seed was swapped, because this pumpkin plant is just not a mover. But several flowers have invited many visiting bees in the past week so plump bulbs should appear soon.
What does grow should be showy as it has climbed the fence and the fruit will be off the ground and locked into the chain link.
Pumpkin 3 has started taking over my yard. Without a dog, the vines have the freedom to move wherever they feel best. The hefty leaves of the great Atlantic pumpkin are creeping their shade makers across our back yard. Many flowers have been pollinated and soon the selection of the strongest baby pumpkin will be made.
I recently learned that growing giant pumpkins is a sport. The casual participation at improving the fitness of a gourd through natural elements and personal interventions like shading, sheltering, feeding, pruning, watering over the course of a summer for competition is a sport. Unlike cheerleading and marching band, which are “activities,” growing a giant pumpkin for competition, that’s a real sport.
I have a goal of beating the size of my pumpkin from last year. It was featured in my Scarecrow Invasion — “It’s a Great Pumpkin,” in front of my house last year. Maybe you were the one person who voted for it in the Historical Society and Arts Alliance Invasion competition last year. It was the 45-pound pumpkin centerpiece, rising out of our front yard at Linus van Pelt’s feet. While a feather in the scheme of giant pumpkins, my pumpkin pride is still shining.
This sporting year I hope to raise a pumpkin bigger than last year and one day, maybe a forklift will have to come to move my pumpkin to the front yard. In the meantime, if any other local athletes in town are also committed to the pumpkin growing sport, please share your progress report with me and if you are willing, to all the readers of the Review.