Gourd Big or Go Home!

Gourd Big or Go Home!

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Do you want to grow as fat as a pumpkin? Excuse me, I meant to say, do you want to grow a fat pumpkin? We might all consider planting a few seeds next year, because not only could we bake thousands of pies, but also make a bunch of dough ($30,000 in prize money). This year’s winner of the distinguished World’s Largest Pumpkin is a 2,749-pound beast! A hippo-sized gourd grown by a horticulture teacher from Minnesota takes the cake (pie).

Orange is the color of autumn and pumpkins are part of Americana – having grown here for over 5000 years. And we must love them, because in the United States we grow 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin each year! They are not only part of the Halloween decorating tradition, but they are one of this country’s biggest symbols of the Fall season and Thanksgiving. We have a long, history with the pumpkin, dating back to when the Native Americans used the seeds for food and medicine.

Pumpkins are fruit in the squash family. Early settlers in America sliced off the pumpkin tops, removed the seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was then placed over a campfire and is considered the origin of pumpkin pie. In the 1800s, pumpkins were thought to be a remedy for curing snakebites and ridding people of freckles, by smearing the gooey insides of the pumpkins over the wound and face. When that didn’t work, people soon realized that pumpkins were better suited as a food source.

So how does someone grow a one-ton pumpkin? A few reporters asked if a pumpkin that large is being pumped up on steroids. Hmm, do pumpkin contests have the same rigorous testing as the Olympics? How could we ever really know what lurks in the veins of that “plumped-up” gourd? Thankfully, it has been stated in the contest rules, that all pumpkins must be “naturally grown.”

The pumpkins must be hauled to the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, California where the big “weigh-in” occurred last week. Crowds cheered for the winner like they were are at a rock concert. The champion gourd was named “Michael Jordon.”

This is the Season to see plenty of pumpkins (of normal sizes) being proudly displayed around yards and porches. It is the gentle reminder autumn has arrived, cooler breezes are in the air and that javelinas will walk miles to eat your pumpkins. It’s also time to indulge in everything “pumpkin spice” which is considered the “flavor of Fall.”

I might bake my pumpkin dough cookies, with its pound of brown sugar, butter, pureed pumpkin, and maple syrup. But one bite is enough to send glucose levels to dangerous highs and arteries to immediately clog. They are scrumptious, terribly fattening and should only be eaten with the risk of getting as round as a pumpkin.

Maybe growing a giant gourd would be a healthier choice. The World’s Largest Pumpkin winner claims that planting good seeds, fertilizing often and watering twelve times daily is the formula for winning the top prize. His motto? (For life and pumpkins).

“Gourd big or go home.”

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected]or at www.aroundthebluhmintown.com.

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