Saturday, September 24, 2011

Now THAT is a Pumpkin!

My one attempt at growing pumpkins failed miserably; I think our garden's dirt was too compacted and poor-quality, and we didn't do enough to counteract that. My visions of monster pumpkins adorning our steps (or yard, if they were too large to fit on the steps) died about the same time as did my poor little pumpkin seedling. I've decided giant pumpkins aren't in my future, but that won't stop me from admiring those pumpkin wranglers who produce specimens like this year's adult winner, an 849.5 pound pumpkin grown by Adam Johnson of Foley, Minnesota.
The logistics of giant pumpkin competitions are a bit more complicated than, say, judging a loaf of banana bread. These pumpkins are -- to state the obvious -- BIG, heavy, and awkwardly shaped. After the growing itself is done, the competitor has to get his or her pumpkin picked and haul it to the Fair. (Perhaps it's just as well that I'm not competing in this category, as I don't think I could haul one of those on the bus!) According to some internet research, 4H kids used to help haul the pumpkins off the truck upon arrival; they've since switched to skid loaders in more recent years (at least for the really big ones), as no one wants to see a 4Her smashed in the line of pumpkin duty. The pumpkin is on a pallet, the pallet goes on a vintage livestock scale, and the total is tallied. Pumpkin growers grumble that the process leaves room for improvement, but for now, anyway, it works well enough.

To learn more about giant pumpkins in Minnesota, check out the documentary Bill's Big Pumpkins; I haven't yet seen it (just found out about it today!), but I hope to be checking it out for myself soon. The website also has Bill's pumpkin seeds available, should you wish to try your own hand at growing a giant pumpkin of your own.

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