Thursday, August 21, 2008

Small World....Big Pumpkins

It may be a small world. Even on our hour and a half drive from our first base camp in Nova Scotia to our first stop at Howard Dill Enterprises- grower and seed provider for the world’s largest (and this time I am NOT exaggerating) pumpkins in Windsor, NS, we bumped into a handful of other tourists who pulled over to ask us what part of Florida we were from. It’s a long way from Florida. So to be bumping into people from Ocala and Orlando and Fort Myers seems as much an oddity of what we were headed to see. Maybe this pumpkin patch exists in a small world- but it, like Charlie Brown’s Patch, is chock full of giant pumpkins.

Howard Dill Enterprises grows and displays and gives very personal family directed tours of this, perhaps the best pumpkin patch in the whole world! Having purchased seeds from them MANY years ago when I was into some very serious gardening of my own on the coast of Maine, I can assure you their seeds are tops and will yield absolutely amazing results. So we were thrilled when Danny Dill, Howard’s son, gave us the tour of the patch himself. His knowledge is outstanding. He’s personable and able to tell a story with the best of them. We really enjoyed the time with him.

Keep in mind we are visiting mid-August. So while some of the pumpkins have already surpassed the 500 pound mark. Most if not all of them are still growing and on their way to 1000 pounds (plus or minus) and a few way more than that. People grow them as a curiosity. Because they can. Because watching a pumpkin grow at an average rate of 30 pounds a day is amazing in and of itself. You can snag that blue ribbon at the agricultural fair. You can show off to all your gardening friends. You can grow a jack-o-lantern so big that no one without a tractor can even steal it off your front porch on Halloween, let alone smash it in the middle of the street like some are want to do. And here’s one you may not have thought up yourself- you can hollow one out and enter it in a boat race! That’s right. They actually have a great pumpkin regatta here. It has drawn huge crowds from its very inception and continues to grow annually. Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Farmer’s Almanac TV, Home and Garden TV, and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not have all covered the event at one time or another. If our timing were a little better, we could have brought it to you first hand on Gundyville On Wheels, but for now a link will have to do!

I took a close up shot of one of the newest “sets” on the end of the vine runner for an Atlantic Giant. Hard to believe that something so large results from this pea size set at the end of an orange flower- but it does. You can get seed, directions, and lots of growing tips from the Dill web site. Be sure and check it out.
Danny uncovers some pumpkins for inspection...

and tells us secrets of the trade.

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