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Matt Debacco sits with his pumpkin at the Durham Fair. | (Dan Jackson/North Haven Citizen)

The great pumpkin visits Durham


Rising out of a pumpkin patch out of Rocky Hill, a pumpkin entered at the Durham Fair last week broke the state record for heaviest pumpkin.

Matt Debacco’s pumpkin weighed in at 1,766.5 pounds. The old state record was 1,487.5 pounds.

“The plant grew it,” he said. “I’m taking credit for it.”

Gardeners who cultivate behemoth pumpkins use special techniques to push the limits of how big the vegetable will grow.

A common misconception people have about growing giant pumpkins is that the growers feed their plants milk, cutting a slit in the vine and using a wick to siphon milk into the plant, Debacco said. “No one uses milk. Everyone thinks we use milk.”

As soon as the vine is cut, it rots. Instead, Debacco waters and waters and waters his giant pumpkin plants — 80 gallons a day when it doesn’t rain.

He also extends the growing season by putting his plants in greenhouses.

When the buds form on the plant, he picks off all but one, so the plant will direct all its energy toward the one pumpkin. The plants grow large, covering hundreds of square feet. The plant which grew Debacco’s pumpkin covered 1,100 square feet.

“So I couldn’t afford to grow the pumpkin plants in my yard,” he said.



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