Tending to a giant pumpkin is a lot of work, a fact that Todd Kogut experienced first-hand when he grew a “monster” pumpkin for the first time this year.
Encouraged by a friend who does it as a hobby, Kogut planted the seeds and transferred the plant to his sister Tia Elow’s garden in May.
Initially, Kogut said he wasn’t interested in growing a pumpkin for competition, but rather trying a new experience to cross off his bucket list.
Just in time for Halloween, the Clinton, New York, resident is sharing how he grew a giant pumpkin that weighed 1,952 pounds and measured six feet in diameter.
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What does it take to grow a giant pumpkin?
There was a lot of work that went into the pumpkin, Kogut said, from covering the plant at night with a hoop house to constantly checking the soil for nutrients and adding fertilizer. Kogut also sent one of the plant’s stems to a lab for a tissue test to know how much fertilizer was needed, he said.
Kogut said the experience has been “an emotional rollercoaster.”
“When it starts growing, you’re afraid you’re going to kill it so you’re nervous, and then when it starts growing, you get excited and you have to deal with the weather.”
By the first week of June, the plant had already overgrown the hoop house.
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Later that month, Kogut realized there were no bees, so he had to hand-pollinate the plant for it to produce pumpkins, which started growing by July 4. The plant grew three pumpkins and Kogut kept the best one. He removed the other two to make sure the nutrients and energy were only going to one.
How quickly did the pumpkin grow?
The pumpkin was growing all summer long and needed about 75 gallons of water a day, growing at a rate of 50 pounds a day, he said.
“I only had one,” said Kogut, whose initial goal was to grow an 800-pound pumpkin, “so I had to make it work.”
Kogut and Elow’s pumpkin placed second in the Saratoga Giant Pumpkin Fest in Saratoga Springs Sept. 24, just 50 pounds shy of the winner.
A week before the competition, Kogut measured the pumpkin in three different directions and estimated it weighed 1,720 pounds. The pumpkin was ultimately much heavier than the estimate, over 200 pounds more.
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Kogut’s plan is to carve it to make a giant jack-o-lantern for Halloween and display it in his front yard.
“After you start doing this, it kind of starts getting addictive,” said Kogut, who wants to grow two giant pumpkins next year.
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