Master Gardener

My husband Hank grows GIANT vegetables.  He has a passion for this that is hard to describe and can be a little intimidating!  He currently holds the VA State record for a pumpkin at 1,340lbs!  But the last few years have been difficult.  It can be hard for those that don’t farm or garden to understand the impact of nature, it’s a battle that is always changing.  You roll with the weather and hope for the best.

This year’s weather has been extremely wet & humid and he still has an amazing crop!  I pray I don’t jinx the outcome with this post.

Below are images of baby pumpkins in the middle of June.  Cute little babies that are nurtured to grow BIG!

And by the middle of July, one month later, with luck and lots of hard work he has this….

And then by month 2 he’s got this monster….

I’ve nicknamed this The Big Orange (it’s on the left in the month 1 photos).  I won’t reveal the estimated weight but on average they grow approximately 25lbs a day!  But let me stress that Hank works very hard to keep these plants healthy and growing.  You don’t just drop a seed in the ground and hope for the best.  First, you prepare the soil with the right nutrients to feed the plant.  Then you choose the right seed and control the pollination.  If you’re lucky enough to get a pumpkin on the vine, then the daily works begins.  You have to ensure it’s dry, protected from bugs and critters, has a smooth surface to grow and “slide” on as it grows, watch for rot and downey mildew to name a few.  It’s a lot of work but extremely satisfying if you’re successful.

Connie ©SHP 2018-0405.jpg

This is Connie, nicknamed for my cousin.  Pictured on the right of the month one photos.  She is a month younger than the Big Orange and a little lighter in weight.

The Master Gardener title is not just for Giant Pumpkins.  Hank has to successfully grow 6 different types of giant vegetables.  Above is the rest of his crop.  Giant Watermelon (grown from a seed from his 226lb watermelon last year), Long Gourds, Bushel Gourd, Giant Tomatoes and last but not least a Field Pumpkin.  The field pumpkin is starting to turn orange (see the change in color at the far right) and was planted on the day our grandson Micah was born, May 31st.

The VA State Fair is still 39 days away so stay tuned for the final results and say a few prayers that his pumpkin makes it!  We’ll also be traveling to Altoona, PA for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) event on Oct 6th where he’ll weigh-in the 2nd pumpkin and the rest of his crop to qualify for Master Gardener.  Unfortunately the VA State Fair is not a GPC event so we hit the road to compete against the growers up north.

It’s been an adventure and something I never thought we’d be doing.  But I love his passion and care for these plants.  I’m the wife of a Master Gardener 🙂

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