Anyone curious about the art and science behind giant pumpkin growing will have the opportunity to learn the basics from local longtime growers.
Team Pumpkin, a group of local growers who share an online network, is planning a seminar this month, and one in April, to recruit new growers to the “sport” they love.
“We just really want to encourage people to try something new,” said Chelsea Cleveland, co-coordinator of the Durham Fair Giant Pumpkin exhibit.
The first seminar will be held Sunday, March 10, 2 p.m., at the public safety building on the Durham Fairgrounds and will cover “first time growing fundamentals.” At the same location and time on Sunday, April 28, the seminar will cover how to get your plant successfully planted and how to care for it in cool weather. The group hopes to be able to give attendees at the second seminar a plant to go home with.
Middlefield grower Lloyd Blair said the goal of the free seminars is to get new people introduced to the sport, to get more pumpkins to the Durham Fair display in September, and build the number of local growers.
“The excitement on the weigh off night is unbelievable,” Blair said. “Even if you don’t have a big pumpkin it’s a good time.”
Weigh-in is the night before the Durham Fair kicks off in September, when all the growers bring their pumpkins to the fairgrounds to be weighed and officially entered into the competition.
Potential growers need about 750 square-feet of land to grow one pumpkin.
Blair said beginners can expect to grow a pumpkin weighing around a couple hundred pounds. Last year, the fair’s biggest pumpkin clocked in at more than 1,700 pounds.
The seminars are open to people of all ages, including youngsters.
Cleveland said pumpkin growing is an opportunity for kids to try something they normally would never be exposed to, and the process of growing a giant pumpkin builds character strengths like work ethic, time management and patience. It also encourages people just to be outside and be more active, she said.
“We want to get the new grower involved and give them a good start for doing them so they’re not going to fail the first year,” Blair said, adding that growing giant pumpkins can be difficult and time consuming.
Blair said each person can decide what their goal is; whether it’s to just get a 100-pound pumpkin to the fair, or grow a nicely shaped one, that’s up to the individual.
“We just want to help people grow pumpkins, that’s all we want to do. That’s our passion,” Blair said.
No reservations or tickets are needed to attend the seminars. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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