Giant Pumpkin Quest Vegetable Gardening

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!)

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  • Jen
    April 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    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!