Why yes, yes there is. Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers (UGPG) consists of a group of folks who love to grow pumpkins, and it’s not about how many, the taste or color. Their quest is to grow the greatest pumpkin in all of Utah.
And it’s no small feat. Long before the growing season begins, as any gardener knows, from germination to full fruition, there are a lot of Cucurbita pepo-growing smarts that come before you’d ever be expected to grow a 1,608 lb. giant pumpkin. This weight just so happens to be the very same as this year’s UGPG-winning bad-boy. The weigh-off took place at Thanksgiving Point and was brought in by a local grower and second-time winner, Andrew Israelsen.
America First Credit Union cashed in and purchased this pumpkin. The carving will begin on October 25, 2019 and the pumpkin will be on display at Station Park mall in Farmington.
Israelsen has been growing all his life but became compelled to grow big-enough-that-you-need-a-backhoe to lift pumpkins about 20 years ago. His first attempts were impressive but did not exceed 100 pounds. Then fate brought Israelsen to Thanksgiving Point, he became aware of the UGPG and began sharing and asking questions with fellow mega-pumpkin growers and the rest was well, cake, or pie, I personally really love a nice piece of pumpkin chocolate chip bread.
Secrets to growing a big pumpkin? Like any proper garden space, he uses mostly organic ingredients, lots of cow/horse/chicken manure, compost from his fields, fallen leaves and lawn trimmings, some fertilizers, really stinky fish emulsion and seaweed. Israelsen also shared that every fall he plants barley as a cover crop (that’s a term we farmhands call green manure) which he tills into the soil in the spring.
Here’s another bit, after the pumpkin plant has germinated and as the vines start to produce fruits, Israelsen measures and compares each to determine which ones are the biggest and strongest. Eventually, the largest gets to stay on the vine, and he then trims off the inferiors, so that all the energy from the plant goes toward only that single one (sure, glad my mom didn’t raise us that way).
Here’s to our community gardeners and urban AG enthusiasts. To read more about what’s growing, go here.