You know Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage and Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, but Central Oregon’s largest gourd might give them both a run for their money.
This year, Madras man Ed Pugh decided to try his hand at growing a giant pumpkin.
“I expected to maybe get a 2 or 300-pounder, and then it just went crazy,” Ed said.
He’s been growing regular field pumpkins at his Madras home for years.
“In January, I was a little bored and I was reading about a giant pumpkin [in an] article, and thought I might give that a try,” he said.
Ed bought three seeds for $10 from a Wisconsin farmer and set to work, using only the internet and YouTube videos to guide his green thumb.
He first germinated the seed for his giant pumpkin in his garden shed in mid-April. When it got too big, he moved it to the garden and kept it under a greenhouse.
Ed monitored the temperature to make sure it wouldn’t freeze, until the warm weather took over and he was able to take the framing off.
“It was kind of tough because it’s windy in this country in the spring,” he said. “But the plant thrived, and grew and grew.”
And grew. And grew. Reaching more than 1,200 pounds.
“It was it was putting on, I think, 30 pounds a day for a little while,” Ed said. “100 days ago, it was a blossom. It’s unbelievable to me.”
Ed had to check the patch every day for new pumpkins growing on the vine to cut them off, so the main pumpkin could be the only one receiving nutrients.
He also used perch carcasses under the main plant to use as a fertilizer.
When it was ready, Ed got some help from a forklift to transport his prize into his truck drive it to a weigh-off at the Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin this past weekend. He ended up winning second place overall out of 23 entries, behind a contestant from Canada.
His entry was the largest from Oregon.
“They don’t think anybody from Central Oregon has ever entered a giant pumpkin in their weigh-offs,” Ed said.
The weigh-off at the Pumpkin Regatta was one of more than 100 weigh-offs around the world this year, and one of only two in Oregon.
“They were, I think, taken aback a little bit that a rookie had won this big,” Ed said. “They said I probably got the Rookie of the Year award for the Northwest Club, which is fun.
The pumpkin awaits a Halloween sitting on his porch for his grandkids to enjoy. But next year, it’s back to the patch to perfect the method.
“I don’t know if I can duplicate this, but I’m going to try. But I might get shot down next year with frost early and frost late. l guess we just have to wait for next year,” he said.
Ed hoped that others from Central Oregon would try their hands at growing giant pumpkins.
“You might be able to grow just as big or bigger,” he said. “And it’d be fun to get big pumpkins from Central Oregon more than just mine, competing against the big boys in the Willamette Valley.”
Ed recommended this video for those looking to learn the basics.