There are a few key ingredients that go into growing a giant pumpkin, and Kate Mumford has been attempting to master that perfect recipe for more than five years.
The Brookswood woman was one of 16 gourd growers who participated in B.C.’s Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-Off at Krause Berry Farm on Saturday.
“It’s a fun hobby,” she said. But there’s no mistaking, it takes a bit of work – including finding the right mix of irrigation and fertilizer, and offering up just the right smattering of “TLC.”
“It takes the right seed, a lot of water, a lot of fertilizing, and a lot of attention,” she said. It also takes a load of turkey manure every April, shortly after planting, which she admits is not a favourite with her neighbours.
She grows two giant pumpkins each year in her rather small backyard, knowing that one always dies. This year was no exception.
But this time around, using seeds she received from a friend in Pemberton, she still managed to grow a 754-pound pumpkin – not her biggest, and not as vibrant an orange colour as she’d hoped, but still a respectable size for her hometown contest.
While it only earned her a tie for seventh place, the efforts are never wasted, Mumford explained.
This week she’ll go to work carving the pumpkin. Then, daily until Halloween, she’ll wheel it out and light it up on her Brookswood driveway for the enjoyment of her neighbours – many who stop by to have their picture taken with the giant gourd.
Mumford wasn’t the only Langley grower to participate in the pumpkin weigh-off on the weekend.
Returning champion Scott Carley was standing on top of his pumpkin by the end of the day, giving two thumbs up that he once again grew the biggest pumpkin in the province. This year’s specimen weighed in at 1,436 pounds.
That, however, didn’t beat his personal best, achieved last year when he was crowned the province’s champ with a 1,543-pounder.
“I absolutely hope to beat that,” he said just minutes before his was forklifted to the scale.
What’s his secret? Carley said there’s definitely no secret.
The South Langley grower said it takes “fertilizer, steady feeding, drip irrigation, and all those things to grow them big.”
While he walked away with the grand prize again this year, he said his hope is that Canadian competitions – including this B.C. weigh-off – can continue to grow, attract more participants, and garner more prize money (like the competitions State-side).
Also on the card Saturday was another fellow Langley grower Maurizio Camparmo, who’s been growing pumpkins for some 25 years.
He competes regionally, and internationally. He’s already entered six other pumpkins in various competitions this year, but earned fifth on Saturday with his largest pumpkin yet weighing in at more than 800 pounds.
“I beat my personal best of 725, which was four years ago, so 834 is good enough for me,” Camparmo told the Langley Advance.
As for winning gourd supremacy, he said “there’s always next year,” and he anticipates using a seed from this one to grow an even larger, potentially winning pumpkin in 2019.
Maybe the Walnut Grove grower will be able to dethrone his friend and rival, Carley.
In the meantime, Camparmo will enter this same pumpkin in a competition in Portland later this month.