There's something fascinating about extremely large
vegetablesit's not every day that you see beets as big as
basketballs, tomatoes too large to hold in one hand and watermelons
the size of toddlers. The unfamiliar bulk of these oversized
organisms make them seem like plant matter from another planet.
Giant pumpkins are the heavy hitters of the large-vegetable
world. Instead of the round, bright-orange gourds most of
us are familiar with, these mammoth vegetables look like deflating
oversized balloons with pale skins.
In the thriving subculture of giant-pumpkin cultivation,
enthusiasts embrace each growing season as a new opportunity
to produce their heaviest pumpkin yet. Just 40 years ago,
a 100 lb pumpkin was considered huge; these days, new records
are set regularly, with pumpkins creeping up in weight each
year. In September 2007, a world record was set at a Massachusetts
weigh-in where a pumpkin tipped the scales at 1,689 lb.
For Brian Christensen, a record-setting giant pumpkin grower
in Rexburg, Idaho, satisfaction comes in settingand reachingheavy
goals. Last year, his largest pumpkin weighed in at 1,071
lb, the heaviest pumpkin recorded in the state.
His interest in giant pumpkins began early; in second grade,
another student brought in a 200 lb specimen for show and
tell and he was fascinated by it. However, it wasn't until
nine years ago that he ordered his first giant-pumpkin seeds
after seeing an advertisement for them while browsing through
a seed catalog. After his first year of growing a mixed vegetable
garden with only two pumpkin plants, he decided to focus
solely on growing pumpkins.
|Dr. Brian Christensen shows off one of his giant pumpkins.