When October rolls around, many people think pumpkins, but some people have been thinking about pumpkins since April.
Dave Bradley, the committee head of the Utah Pumpkin Growers, is one of those people. And for him, it’s all in the genes. Dave stashes his pill bottles in the freezer for safe keeping. Each bottle contains a small envelope, printed with the seed’s pedigree. “Some of the seeds sell for hundreds of dollars,” Dave said. Knowing your seed’s pedigree can give you a huge advantage when you’re hoping for a thousand-pounder.
Dave compared his giant pumpkin seeds to horses: “If you breed a Shetland pony, you have a Shetland pony. But I’ve found that if you breed a thoroughbred, you actually get a thoroughbred.”
Dave is going for that thoroughbred pumpkin, so to speak. That’s why he’s spent most of his spare time since April 6th caring for his pumpkin patch, which, by now, is most of his backyard.
“Well, Dave’s my best friend. And uh…he goes crazy over these pumpkins,” explained Wally, Dave’s across-the-street neighbor. The crazy all started ten years ago, when Dave and some friends from church decided to grow their first pumpkin. Dave’s pumpkins have been getting bigger and bigger each year, and now he’s somewhat of an expert. He said, “To grow a good pumpkin, you basically need three things: you need good soil…and then you need a good seed…and then you just need good luck.”
Luckily, this pumpkin pro is a handyman by trade, and built his own fertilizing and sprinkler system specifically tailored to a giant pumpkin’s needs. One of the biggest musts? Shade.
Once the sun turns the skin orange, the pumpkin stops growing. Dave keeps his prized pumpkins under a series of shade cloth and tarps to keep it from direct sunlight.
He has one more shot at a prize this year and will be weighing in his last giant pumpkin of the season next Saturday at Pleasant Grove Hee-Haw Farms. From the size of it, he expects it to weigh upwards of 900lbs.
When asked why he does it, Dave replied, “Everyone’s gotta have a hobby, something fun to do. And, you know, I could golf – waste money – but you know, I just waste it on pumpkins.”