Learn how to grow giant pumpkins

Autobiography of a Pretty Giant Pumpkin

Really, how can a giant pumpkin write an autobiography? It isn’t possible. True, pumpkins can’t write, and it takes some creative thinking to pretend they can. Giant pumpkins can do things humans can’t. They can grow more than 50 pounds (ca. 23 kg) a day. For fun, this autobiography is written by Hue, the pretty giant pumpkin that grew in my backyard in 2023. It is the Autobiography of a Pretty Giant Pumpkin. Written by Hue herself.

My name is Hue, and this is my autobiography. My momma was grown from a 1,461 pound pumpkin in 2022. My mom was grown in Lewisburg West Virginia by Chris Rodebaugh, and she won the coveted Howard Dill award at the North Carolina State Fair. My grandma was the 2,350 Gienger from 2020. I didn’t know my grandma, but she was famous for her large size and good looks. I could go back more than four generations, but nobody wants to hear about that. To take a peak, go to Pumpkin Fanatic and you can get the DNA scope.

It took me some time to find out that momma was a famous pumpkin for two reasons. First, she was extremely orange. So orange, they called her Ruby, and they said you needed to wear sunglasses to look at her. People really like orange giant pumpkins. She was also really shiny. The other thing she was famous for was that the plant she came from was started from a clone. Yep, that is right. Mr. Rodebaugh took a cutting from a plant at the season’s end, and let it hibernate in the greenhouse. Next, it was planted just like a normal pumpkin.

My momma’s seeds were sent to all kinds of pumpkin growing clubs. The growing clubs sell the seeds at auctions to raise money for the clubs. I was sold by the California Pumpkin Growers club for $85 on BigPumpkins at auction. I was purchased by Jeffrey McLain. A pretty cool guy, I am told. You should check out his website.

Female pumpkin flower
Here is where Hue got started.

My journey from seed to mature pumpkin was described on Jeffrey McLain’s blog. When I was just a seed, I was placed in a damp towel, inside a little bag, and kept on a warm surface for several days. I began to grow roots in just two days! This all happened in early April 2023. I was transplanted soon, and grew fast. In June 2023, I became a flower, and I was pollinated with my own male flower by Mr. McLain.

Because I was growing in a bunch of fancy cow manure, and I was fed a lot of nitrogen and other things, I grew quickly. Before I knew it, I was more than 500 pounds (ca. 227 kg) in just a few months. Drank upwards of 100 gallons (ca. 379 l) of water a day during the warm days of summer, but on average, I sipped about 45 gallons (ca. 170 l) a day.

Not only was I watered directly with the hose, but I was misted whenever the days were warm. Every few minutes, I would get a nice mist for 40 seconds to cool me off. I was also shaded the entire summer, which helped prevent me from overheating.

Boy was Mr. McLain interested in me. He would come out during the evenings and move my vines here and there. He would rub his hand over me and tell me what a great pumpkin I was. I eventually turned very orange, and this make Mr. McLain even more proud. He would invite friends to see me. Sometimes, they would just sit in chairs and stare at me. This is when he named me Hue. I am just a large gourd, but sometimes I thought I was something more.

Biography of Hue
Here I am at the weigh off.

It was time to take me to the big pumpkin weigh off at Bishop’s Ranch, and Mr. McLain had all the preparations in place. He even got a new trailer to move me. He decorated the pallet with nice green grass. I was lifted up and put on a pallet. Mr. McLain was really nervous I was going to crack, but I didn’t I was solid. He washed me off with some soap and water, then wiped me down. I traveled all the way to Bishop’s in the back of the trailer.

The giant pumpkin weigh off morning was wet and soggy, and I was one of the first to be unloaded. I was sitting between a bunch of very large white giant pumpkins. I sort of stuck out. Well, I actually stuck out a lot. Not only what I very orange, but I was smooth and shiny.

As the contest got started, the judges were looking at all of the pumpkins, making sure they would pass inspection. I noticed all of the judges inspecting me for an extra long time. They were leaning on me, rubbing their hands over me. They thought I was waxed because I was so shiny. After a very long time, Mr. McLain was called over and asked if I was waxed. Mr. McLain said, “no, just washed with soap and water.”

They asked questions about the type of soap used, how he washed me, etc. Mr. McLain used car wash soap to wash me. At that point, they said I was ok to compete with all the rest. Mr. McLain went back to what he was doing, but they stayed next to me and I heard them talking more. They were there for a very long time. They called Mr. McLain back and told him that I was to be disqualified because Mr. McLain washed me with soap. Soap of all kinds is considered a foreign substance. Mr. McLain and I were in shock.

All decisions by the judges are final, and I was not able to win any money; however, they allowed me to be weighed, which was nice. I was 956 pounds (ca. 434 kg) of pure orange. After I was weighed, I was immediately put on the trailer and headed back to Lodi, California.

Biography of Hue
Here I am at Bokisch Vineyards.

My final stop was at Bokisch Vineyards in Lockeford California. I was on display at this Spanish varietal winery for all to see. People of all ages would pat me on the top, rub their hands all over me, and say good things about me. Sometimes I thought it was the wine talking. They filled their bellies with tasty varieties such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Graciano. All ages would pose in front of me for pictures. A few times, people tried to climb on top of me, but the employees told them it was not permitted. I was at this location for approximately one month.

I was at the ripe old age of 140 days, and it was time for my seeds to get harvested so that I could make more of me. What a great way to celebrate me. Mr. McLain cut me into pieces and removed all my seeds. There were approximately 300 seeds in me. Thanks for reading the Autobiography of a Pretty Giant Pumpkin.

To purchase giant pumpkin seeds from Mr. McLain, go to his eBay store. You can also find his book called Backyard Big: Growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins in Your Backyard on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Here I am with a whole cut in my side. See the seeds?

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