But there they go!!!
In a dozen or so backyard gardens around Colorado Springs, urban farmers are nervously nurturing pumpkin plants in a race to grow the largest pumpkin in the city.
Most grow Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds, developed by Howard Dill, the godfather of immense pumpkins.
The reigning Colorado Springs champion is Marc Sawtelle, who has repeatedly produced 1,000-pound behemoths.
Here’s a photo the Gazette’s Jerilee Bennett took of Sawtelle in 2007 with one of his monsters.
Sawtelle started growing enormous pumpkins in 1990. He said his young daughter saw a photo in The Gazette of Richard Plush with a big pumpkin he had grown in his garden at his home in the Patty Jewett neighborhood.
Sawtelle said the pumpkin was 120 pounds and a city record.
“She said, Daddy why don’t you grow me a big pumpkin like that?” Sawtelle said. “So I tried it and I grew one about 82 pounds.”
Sawtelle planted pumpkins behind his southeast-area home near Fountain and Union boulevards. At the weigh-off, he met Plush. Now they compete every year for big pumpkin honors.
Here’s another Bennett photo of Plush carving Sawtelle’s pumpkin in October 2008. That is Sawtelle’s legs hanging out of the pumpkin.
“I was pretty much hooked,” Sawtelle said. “Today, my daughter’s 22 and she thinks her dad is nuts.”
Last year, Sawtelle grew his largest pumpkin ever at 1,111 pounds. He also grew his second-largest at 1,109. They have to be moved with a small bulldozer and a crane.
Plush still grows pumpkins and has produced 400-pounders routinely. But he has not achieved the size of Sawtelle’s fruit. This is the first year in 22 that he hasn’t planted a pumpkin vine because of recent hip replacement surgery. His friends, however, are going to help him.
Brothers Ron and Doug Franzen also compete for the largest pumpkin.
Ron grew a 632 pounder last year, grown behind his home near Institute and Fillmore streets. He hopes to break his personal record this year. He also grows enormous gourds, including a 53-pounder last year.
Doug’s biggest was 225 pounds, grown at his Cragmor neighborhood home.
Huge pumpkins don’t grow by accident. It takes a lot of tender, loving care. And horse manure, ground tree leaves, grass clippings, hoop huts and hail nets.
Here’s a hoop house from ColoradoPumpkins.com
Here’s a look at Sawtelle’s yard covered by hail netting last summer. His record-setting pumpkins are visible amid the miles of vines.
The pumpkin patches are scattered across the area. Here’s a look at Sawtelle’s pumpkin patch under his hail net from www.FlashEarth.com. His house is in the center, facing Fountain Boulevard:
These guys are serious about pumpkins. Many are members of the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers Association.
Here’s a nice story by the Gazette’s Andrea Brown about the 2007 weigh-off.