The LAH neighborhood Giant Pumpkin Challenge

This blog is a rolling summary of the First Annual Pumpkin challenge and weigh-off in Los Altos Hills.  It contains some emails, photos and a summary of the successes and foibles of the growers in mostly chronological order. 

The Challenge

All LAH neighbors who are interested or crazy enough to try and grow a GIANT PUMPKIN are hereby invited to join a neighborhood giant pumpkin growing challenge.  All that is required is the desire, a spot to grow, a green thumb and more work than you could ever imagine. 


1.  All participants will be provided two ready to plant giant pumpkin sprouts during the first week of May.  Your pumpkin patch should be ready to plant at this time.  The pumpkin plants will be provided by Vince and Amanda Zunino from their private stock of world-class giant pumpkin seeds that have the proven potential to grow pumpkins well over Half  A Ton!

2. Growing advice will be provided if requested by the local pumpkin guy.

3.  In October, a weigh-off/pumpkin party will be held to determine the winning pumpkins.

4.  Awards will be given for Heaviest and Prettiest pumpkin.  The prettiest pumpkin will be determined by people's choice.

5. Don't worry about the local pumpkin guy, he is not growing this year.... heh heh

Best of Luck!

The contenders - lined up and ready to come out swinging

June Update

This communicay is an update on the LAH giant pumpkin challenge as of June 1.  A total of 9 aspiring giant pumpkin growers originally entered this contest. 

Mark Breier
Craig Jones
Byron Deeter
Jeff Mason
Scott Vanderlip
Kris Moore
Mike Kirk
Nick Erndt
Anne Marie Gallagher

One month in to the race, a few have dropped out of contention and one contestant as suffered a significant set back as follows:

Jeff Mason never got his pumpkin sprout in the ground, this has limited the growth rate of his pumpkin considerably.

Mark Breier provided no wind protection for his plants and one of them snapped off in the big blow a few weeks ago. He tried to blame a neighboring mole but the mole has denied all responsibility.   He replanted this site with a new somewhat pot-bound sprout.  Mark is still a threat with two viable plants in the ground.

Mike Kirk lost his only plant to "Bugs Bunny" in spite of the serious critter protection he had around his plant.  My condolences to the Kirk family but ensuring the local bugs and wildlife are well fed is one of the key benefits our community enjoys as a result of this contest.

If there is any other significant news please let me know.  By the middle of June, giant pumpkin plants that are happy will start to take off  and will try to consume your entire yard.  If your giant pumpkin plant does not take off but instead turns yellow and dies, it is not happy. 

Just remember, happy pumpkin plants will produce bigger pumpkins.

the pumpkin guy

Other Developments in June:

Nick Erndt's daughter Michelle also joined the contest and has planted two plants. 
Good luck Michelle.

Email From: Byron Deeter

I have to add another unfortunate story to the mix:  Deeters are down to one candidate.  We purchased fertilizer for the pumpkins and I described it to the kids as "super food, like vitamins" for the pumpkins.  We made one of our pumpkins the "girls pumpkin" for my daughter and wife, and a "boys pumpkin" for me and my boys.  Our very enthusiastic (and competitive) daughter figured that her quick path to victory was extra she snuck a super-dose of fertilizer onto her pumpkin.  She literally dumped an entire handful onto it, and by the next morning when we noticed it had burned the poor sprout to nothing.  I cut it back and tried to nurse it back to health, but it does not look promising.  Looks like we'll have to beat ya'll with one pumpkin tied behind our backs :-)  Good luck!!


August Vacation Note:

Hi Mark, 

I brought Olivia over to help water your pumpkins and she found this orphan in the patch and adopted it!  Sorry, when you get back I think there will be a custody battle..... 

September Update

It is now September and there is a little orange in the hills - also a little bit of big orange is tucked away in some  very special gardens....

Mark's  orphan baby is just starting to show her color and some nice curves too. 
Papa looks proud!

The stealth pumpkin is a little tough to hide now and I'm terrible at keeping secrets...


Another stealth pumpkin and another rather lame cover-up....
(corner of Fremont and Manuella) Is this PumpkinGate in LAH?


An enviable crop of Big Max pumpkins, not far from Town Hall  -
Take a jog down Newbridge Rd to find this patch....

Email from Scott Vanderlip:

Greetings -

Here at the Vanderlip Pumpkin farm, luck was not in the stars this year
as our two big pumpkin plants have 2 smaller pumpkins, maybe 150 lbs and 
60 lbs so far..

We had a deadly setback early on when a gopher came up and crewed apart 
the main vine several feet from the plant.  The plant and root are 
protected with a gopher cage but not the vines.

Molly still overly enjoys pumpkins and is growing some standard pumpkins 
and started growing pumpkins all over the yard in almost every piece of 
garden we have.  She has also expressed interest in doing a "pumpkin 
festival" this year in October sometime with games and activities that 
are pumpkin centered so maybe we could roll that LAH pumpkin contest 
into a pumpkin fest here at our house in later October.

Special Update: The cover-up revealed....

The perpetrator of the PumpkinGate cover-up on Fremont and Manuella has come clean:  The poorly disguised mystery pumpkin belongs to Lee Hartley and family.  Lee was secretly given a giant pumpkin sprout by Scott Vanderlip early in the season.  She has submitted the following revealing shots:

one kid can't get his arms around it.....

three kids can't get their arms around it either...

Looks like the Hartley Family has a contender......

Email Update from Craig Jones:

My 3 children, Miranda, Lydia, and Craig have helped out on the "Vince Pumpkin" project this summer and fall.  Alas, I think we have a shot for "most beautiful" pumpkin rather than largest, but we have 3 very nice mid-sized ones growing away!

Craig Jr. watering the pumpkins
The October Finale:

It looks like more contestants are on the ropes. 

Kris Moore's pumpkin plant was planted in a spot that was a bit too shady.  The plant grew poorly and never set a viable pumpkin...  Maybe next year Kris you'll take out that rose garden and put the pumpkins patch there where it gets more sun!

Anne Marie Gallagher's plant never developed viable male flowers for reasons unknown.  As a result,  the plant got huge, covered a large swath of the lawn, produced hundreds of female flowers which all eventually yellowed lacking that special something...  Sorry Anne Marie - it looks like you need to look into adoption as an option!

The Stealth Pumpkin "Bashful" goes down:

This is the pumpkin that never was and probably shouldn't have been anyway.  Grown at Farmer John's pumpkin farm in Half Moon Bay, Bashful grew slowly near a fog shrouded creek until we hit a warm spell in Sept.  Then he took off so fast he started to split at the blossom end.  I cut him from the vine in late Sept. to save him from his self destructive tendencies and tried to hide him in the garage on the back of my truck.... that didn't work.  Two weeks later by the time of the Half Moon Bay weigh off, Bashful had started to go soft and could not participate in the festivities.

Olivia poses with "Bashful the Beautiful"  before his untimely demise
(scale reads 784, Bashful was grown from the 1069 Zunino, Arwen)
Bashful now rests in my back field and is happily feeding the local wildlife.


And another one bites the dust:

Probably the biggest hard-luck tale of the season was Pipsqueak.  Pipsqueak was grown at Farmer John's in Half Moon Bay and was the prettiest 500 pound pumpkin I have ever seen with perfect shape and color.  It was sold to a pumpkin aficionado for $500 but before it could be delivered, a deer broke through the electric fence and ate a football-sized hole in her.

Pipsqueak - $500 a plate!
grown on the 1069.5 Zunino, Goofy Goliath


The Hartley Boys do a cameo
for AP at Half Moon Bay

The Hartley Weigh-off Party for Tots

Two events for the LAH weigh off were organized by participants.  Kevin and Lee Hartley held a party with lots of activities for very young growers.  This was followed by a bash at Mark and Ronda Breiers for the bigger kids and pumpkins.

The weighing rig at the Hartley Bash


Mark showed up with his entry on the "Gourd Cart"


Pumpkin carving was a featured activity


The 402 Hartley took 32nd place at Half Moon Bay
seed 1069.5 Zunino - Goofy Goliath
(this pumpkin was plundered from the Hartleys yard the night before halloween)


The Breier Bash for the Big Boys

The first prize was the "Crystal Pumpkin"


Pumpkin riding was the favorite pool sport


The lifting crew readies the big one for transport


Good thing there were lots of young bucks around!


Mark's big one is straped up for the weighing


The LAH pumpkin growing champ Mark Breier  and his 711.5 pound beauty
(grown on the 1034 Zunino seed, MiMi the Magnificent)


The final results of the First Annual LAH Pumpkin weigh-off were as follows: 

    First Place -  Mark & Riley Breier,  711.5 pounds
    Second - Kevin and Lee Hartley and Family,  402 pounds
    Third - Correy Breier,  331 pounds
    Fourth - Travis Breier,  273 pounds
    Fifth - Molly Vanderlip,  89 pounds

Honorable Mention:  Michelle Carson - unweighed but not forgotten
Missing In Action:  Craig Jones and Craig Jr.  - left in the patch back home.

The end of a successful growing season!

Congratulations to all the participants and better luck next year!

This text will be replaced

eXTReMe Tracker