WATERVILLE, NS - They grew the heaviest pumpkin to ever tip the scales in the decade-long history of the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers’ weigh-off.
The crowd gathered for the tenth-annual weigh-off at Glad Gardens in Waterville on Sept. 22 erupted in applause as the giant pumpkin grown by Daryl and Maureen Tingley of Fredericton weighed-in at 1,808 pounds – a new Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers (AVGVG) weigh-off record.
Daryl said he and Maureen have been growing giant vegetables since 2003. He said they planted the record-setting pumpkin inside their house around the middle of April and moved it outside around the middle of May. They harvested it on Sept. 20.
“I would have preferred to harvest it this morning because it would have gained a couple more pounds,” he said.
Daryl said growing giant pumpkins is taking gardening to the extreme. He said the competitions are fun but he was more concerned with topping their previous best, a pumpkin that weighed 1,447 pounds, than he was about winning the weigh-off. He is impressed with the quality of the competition in the Valley.
“Once you start getting pumpkins over 1,000 pounds, it’s very good, and they consistently here have half a dozen over 1,000,” Daryl said.
Maureen said they love being outdoors and growing things, including flowers, vegetables and berries, but giant pumpkins are the biggest things you can grow.
She said they got off to a slow start this year because of a flood. They would have planted the pumpkin outside a week earlier but the ground was under water.
Although it became pot-bound because of the delay, Daryl said the winning pumpkin was the couple’s best plant from the beginning. They are now focusing on their next competition, coming up next weekend in Neguac, New Brunswick.
Fred Ansems of Steam Mill - who holds the world record for long gourds at 139.25 inches - had the heaviest squash at the competition, 986 pounds, and the second heaviest pumpkin at 1,361 pounds. A past winner of the weigh-off, Ansems said it’s very satisfying to do so well, especially considering that there is a lot of work involved. He said it’s great to be able to compete with the top growers around.
Ansems said he figured when he saw the Tingley’s winning pumpkin arrive at Glad Gardens the previous evening that he would be competing for second place.
He said you couldn’t ask for a better growing season in the Valley for giant pumpkins than this year. It was cool starting off but if you had a hot house to start them in or another way to keep them warm, it was alright. Ansems didn’t plant his second-place pumpkin outside until the day after a late freeze in early June that damaged a lot of crops.
“He had a little slower start than some of the other ones but once it took off, it grew like crazy,” Ansems said.
He’s had the heaviest squash at the weigh-in for a few years now but said his winning entry this year was actually his back-up. He had one that was bigger, 1,297 pounds, but it rotted on Sept. 6.
AVGVG president Ron Muis said the annual weigh-off, an official Great Pumpkin Commonwealth event, is a great way to end the season for club members and they look forward to it every year.
The growers worry about their entries and spend time on them as if they were children or pets. However, “there comes the day when you’ve got to let them loose and today’s the day.”
Muis said there was an exceptional array of entries this year across the many categories. When it comes to the pumpkins, he said they seemed to average much larger than at past events. He said this has everything to do with genetics as growers continually strive to come up with something bigger and better.
He said growing giant vegetables has become a family affair for many and the club does all it can to encourage and support young growers. They get to see nature at work and, through the experience, become better stewards of the land.
By the numbers
First Place: Daryl and Maureen Tingley, 1,808 pounds
Second Place: Fred Ansems, 1,361 pounds
Third Place: Gerard Ansems, 1,318 pounds
Fourth Place: Jeremy Zwicker, 1,274 pounds
Fifth Place: Frank Ansems, 1,269 pounds
Sixth Place: Jeff Reid, 1,099 pounds
First Place: Fred Ansems, 986 pounds
Second Place: Paul Cameron, 524 pounds
Third Place: Frank Ansems, 489 pounds
Young Growers, Heaviest Pumpkin:
Michael Armstrong, 278 pounds
Caiden Swindell, 130 pounds
For more information on the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers, visit www.avgvg.com.