Giant Pumpkin Quest 2012: Start Your Engines!

Giant Pumpkin Quest 2012: Start Your Engines!

I come by my love of gar­den­ing hon­estly.  My Great-Grandfather was a Swiss immi­grant who owned a florist shop as did sev­eral of his chil­dren.  All are gar­den­ers includ­ing my Grandma who had an incred­i­ble veg­etable gar­den.  My Grandpa and sev­eral other rel­a­tives are farm­ers.  My Dad’s folks were into the whole ‘gar­den­ing’ thing too on their 5 acre prop­erty.  My own par­ents have lovely gar­dens.  Mom takes care of the flow­ers part of thing, as is her heritage:

Me (far right) with my 4 sis­ters in front of Mom’s gar­den. The youngest sis­ter, Megan, is 8 months preg­nant with twins in this shot.

How­ever, it’s Dad’s obses­sion gar­den that really turns heads.  My Dad is in a spe­cial lit­tle club called the “Utah Giant Pump­kin Grow­ers Asso­ci­a­tion”.  And these folks mean busi­ness!  Dad is metic­u­lous about his soil in the veg­gie patch and observes all sorts of rit­u­als in order to cre­ate the opti­mum con­di­tions for grow­ing one of the big guys.  How big?  Last year’s win­ner grew a 1,600 pound pump­kin! I told you these folks are seri­ous! Sadly, my cute Daddy, despite sig­nif­i­cant effort, has yet to break the 500 pound pump­kin mark.  Is it really ask­ing so much of the Uni­verse for this guy to catch a break?  Hop­ing to be at least mod­er­ately use­ful, I attended a “Giant Pump­kin Grow­ing” class (along with a standing-room-only crowd from as far away as Ver­nal) at the Utah Botanic Cen­ter in Kaysville and hosted by the organization.

Stu­dents’ meet and share ideas and techniques.

Did I men­tion these folks are SERIOUS?  Many ideas and tech­niques were dis­cussed in the class.  Some were solidly grounded in hor­ti­cul­tural “fact” oth­ers were more closely related to myth or leg­end.  The prob­lem is that I can’t be entirely sure which was which!  I mean, what IF putting freeze-dried molasses (gen­er­ally added to ani­mal feed to improve the taste– but that’s a whole other post) can actu­ally help ‘acti­vate’ the micro­bial action in the soil?  What IF?  Would you really want to be the guy who failed to add it?  I thought not!  I may not be grow­ing giant pump­kins per­son­ally but I hon­estly DID add some to my raised gar­den beds because what IF it makes my snap peas turn into sugar snap peas?

This is what a 600 lb. pump­kin looks like. Imag­ine that last year’s win­ner was 1,000 lbs. bigger!

The high­light of the class is that mem­bers of the orga­ni­za­tion will receive pack­ets of seeds from the biggest pump­kins around– and that is really why every­one is there.  It can be a seri­ous busi­ness! Nation­ally, seed from the biggest pump­kins can sell for a cou­ple hun­dred bucks a seed!  All I knew was that by the time I left the class, I was ready.  Ready to do bat­tle and, at a min­i­mum, help my cute Dad pass the 500 lb. mark.

Dad snug­gles a chilly Grand­child while wait­ing for the 2009 weigh off.

So far, I have enlisted the aid of the hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists and work and, to ensure their con­tin­ued sup­port, gave them their own giant pump­kin seed to try out.  My boss is keep­ing it on the down low but I think he’s aim­ing to break that 500 lb. mark him­self this year.  What­ever it takes– we’re on a quest to grow a big-arse pump­kin!  My Papa isn’t look­ing to WIN, though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, he just wants to be a con­tender.  And really, that just shouldn’t be so much to ask!  I’ll do what­ever I can to help him and I hope to post peri­od­i­cally about the journey.

The goal is to wind up with a crit­ter like this (though my cute niece would be a fab­u­lous added bonus!)

Baby Katie at the 2009 Weigh Off– her Mom is eas­ily hid­ing behind this 900 lb. pump­kin, hold­ing her in place (nobody worry!)

Related posts:

Shar­ing Back­yards: the gar­den­ing solu­tion for urban dwellers!
Mt. Olym­pus Com­mu­nity Gar­den Dedication


  1. Jen says:

    Love it! I’m uberly impressed with a 500 pound pump­kin! Whoa! That is incred­i­ble. You do come from a long line of gar­den­ers. No won­der you are so fab­u­lous at it! As you can tell, I’ve been out of the blog­ging scene for a while. I need to pick up the pace and get seri­ous about it again. Love the new look of this web­site. Did you pur­chase a new tem­plate? Looks great!

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