Just a hobby? Who knew growing giant pumpkins could allow me to travel the world? On February 24, 2016 I left for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth conference and awards dinner called “The Big Show” in Lymington, England. Over 90 enthusiastic pumpkin growers from 13 countries descended upon Lymington to hear the basics of growing giant pumpkins, watering methods, growing other giant vegetables, and we met some of the top growers in the world. I met the world record holder, Beni Meier from Switzerland, who shared some of his methods used to grow giant pumpkins. The world record for giant pumpkins is 2323.7 lbs.
I have been growing giant pumpkins for competition since 1998 when I, my dad and my sister attended their first weigh-off in Roland, Manitoba with pumpkins weighing around 200 lbs. We were all inspired to grow bigger pumpkins after seeing the winning pumpkin at 972 lbs! I haven’t missed a year since then. Gardening was something the family did together and this is true even for other pumpkin growers. In 2014, I was nominated to represent Western Canada and the Southern Hemisphere on the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) board. In 2016, I travelled to England in this role. Growing pumpkins let me travel to England, a place I always wanted to go!
Some days its not easy. It’s a challenge to grow a giant vegetable – everything from germinating the seed, selecting the pumpkin to keep, pests, hail, frost, lifting it without cracking it, and getting it to the weigh-off. I keep growing giant pumpkins to beat my personal best. I love it when I mention I grow giant pumpkins, they smile! For me it is not about winning the contest but about participating and doing your best. Sometimes its about the journey!
Laverne Wojeciehowski can be reached at