What it takes to grow a massive prize-winning pumpkin

Posted at 8:56 AM, Oct 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-07 08:56:53-04

(CNN) — It’s the time of the year when pumpkins are all the rage. The biggier and heavier, all the more to brag about.

Across the country, growers trot out their lovingly grown monster pumpkins. The record holder is a Rhode Island man who last year grew a 1-ton pumpkin that he aptly named “The Freak II.”

On Sunday, a Long Island, New York, man took the top honors for the island’s largest pumpkin — a modest, but nevertheless, massive 1,456 pounds.

For five months, Scott Armstrong tended to the pumpkin in his backyard. His prize: $500, a plaque, a blue ribbon, and a trophy.

CNN talked to Scott Armstrong about what it takes to grown a giant pumpkin:

Getting into the giant pumpkin business:

“It’s something I always wanted to do as a kid. I’ve been doing this since 1998. It’s just a hobby but here I am 15 years later. I work a normal day job (he’s a banker). Pumpkin raising is my hobby.”

On the winning recipe:

“I started growing this pumpkin in May. It takes about 5 months.”

“If you get rain or heat at the wrong time — too little or too much temperature — it all has an impact on growing the pumpkin. It’s a fun thing I like to do. And this year, all the stars lined up for me. It doesn’t always work out that way. It’s extra special when it does.”

On the right pumpkin seeds:

“I order this special seed, called an Atlantic Giant. That’s the main seed used to produce the really huge pumpkins.”

“Everybody grows tomatoes and all that other fun stuff, but pumpkins have been my main focus. I trade seeds with guys from all over the world.”

Getting the pumpkin to the scale:

“This year’s pumpkin weighed in at 1,456. To get it to the scale, I move the pumpkin from my backyard into my truck. I do it myself, but the trick is getting it into the truck. I use a tripod hoist. I’ve never dropped it before, but that would be bad.”

Fate of the winning pumpkin:

“The pumpkin is sitting in the back of my truck in my driveway right now. Nine out of 10 times, my giant pumpkins just end up on the front yard. I cut it open a few days after Halloween and take the seeds out. I dry them and send them out to people around the world. We’ve tried to carve the pumpkins as jack-o-lanterns before. it could have gone better. Let’s just say that.”

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