As a recovering software engineer, I sometimes miss geek culture. So, when Mike (the software engineer who keeps bees in my garden) showed up with Pavel (a Moscovite comp sci guy, legendary apiarist in Russia and budding pumpkin growing champ) and Gregory (a certifiable pumpkin champ) I was sucked into discussions of homemade experiments, grand schemes, and giant squash.
Gregory, had recently acquired the highly coveted seeds of a championship giant pumpkin.
The three were perfecting their seed germination skills. It involved a custom built germination box that they were keeping under their desks at work.
Who would believe that a pumpkin that weighs as much as an elevator full of people, could start its life in a the dank underbelly of a cubicle at Raytheon?
It is the end of summer now.
Pavel has not only succeeded, but has a pumpkin on the vine that is 100 inches in diameter and estimated over 300 pounds.
It’s a far cry from the world record, but I am duly amazed and Pavel is clearly proud.
Gregory has been acting as Pavel’s curcurbit coach. (He’s has been growing giant pumpkins for years).
Gregory established his coach qualifications with his impressive record. His first real effort yielded a 600 pounder and he followed it the next year with twin 900 pound giants.
In his third year he had an even larger contender. But in a late season heartbreaker, it grew too fast and split.
Gregory approaches growing with the thoroughness of a true scientist. He follows the motto of his own mentor Steve Sperry – “We grow them to show them.” He tells me there is simply no other reason to do this except to enjoy the excited amazement of others.
Gregory has regrets that Pavel could have had a much bigger season if only he had done a few things “just so”.
(Pavel, for his part, is perfectly satisfied).
As we chatted, Gregory picked up on my own sense of romance about the idea. (Am I a geeky enough grower to make it work? Do I have what it takes to be a champion?)
And like some sort of street corner drug dealer he slyly offered to get me some good seeds if I wanted to give it a try.
I have to admit I’m thinking about it, but I worry that I just might get hooked …
If you would like to download the 6 Season Planning Guide to Growing Giant Pumpkins you can access it in the FREE P+V library of resources.
This guide is the result of Gregory’s full coaching download (and some of Pavel’s tips too!). It starts with how to prepare the garden and soil the first season, and covers seed selection, when and how to add nutrients, and how to baby that baby into full grown champion hugeness.