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.
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
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.
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.
Other Developments in June:
Erndt's daughter Michelle also joined the contest and has planted two plants.
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 vitamins....so 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!!
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.....
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....
at the Vanderlip Pumpkin farm, luck was not in the stars this year
had a deadly setback early on when a gopher came up and crewed apart
still overly enjoys pumpkins and is growing some standard pumpkins
The cover-up revealed....
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
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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 Breier Bash for the Big Boys
The final results of the First Annual LAH Pumpkin weigh-off were as follows:
Place - Mark & Riley Breier, 711.5 pounds
Michelle Carson - unweighed but not forgotten
The end of a successful
Congratulations to all the participants and better luck next year!