The great pumpkin

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When people think pumpkins they usually think of October but for Fraser Miller, pumpkins are a year-round thing requiring an immense amount of attention and care.

Miller began growing pumpkins after a visit to the Dill farm three years ago. As he saw the giant pumpkin he thought that it was something he could take on to see how big he could grow one.

The Caribou Island resident shared that once he made the decision to grow pumpkins he started off by researching fertilizers, soil health, weather patterns and more, eventually reaching out to a local giant pumpkin grower, Tom Dudka.

“What we’re trying to do is grow a pumpkin to 1,500 pounds so we can use our own seeds,” said Miller. “I tracked (Dudka) down, he was more than willing (to help).”

As pumpkin season rolls around each year Miller begins the day at 6 to 7:30 a.m. watering and checking on the pumpkin. Tending to the pumpkin could last hours if Miller wanted to but he added that he does usually water it again in the evening between 4 and 7 p.m.

“You could be three to four hours a day as the plant grows,” he said.

Rather than a pumpkin patch, Miller carefully cultivates one pumpkin after choosing from a few that grow from the plant. Even still, the one plant can take up to 1,000 square feet he said, adding that anything else growing near the pumpkin would take away from it.

As it grows Miller shared that the pumpkin can use up to 48 gallons of water a day.

Due to this year’s worldwide pandemic, Miller did not take his pumpkin to the Dill farm in Annapolis Valley for the weigh-in but he did have it officially weighed in at the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers annual competition and weigh-off. His pumpkin came in fourth place at a weight of 919 lbs, a considerable growth compared to last year’s 524 lb pumpkin — especially since, as Miller shared, all of the pumpkins were lighter this year due to the lack of rain.

The pumpkin grower added though that he did not only help the pumpkin grow himself but he had help from Terry Megeney and George Baird as they helped with things like lifting the pumpkin to be weighed and more.

“It’s nice seeing people come out and take pictures and ask questions,” Miller said, mentioning that there were many people who regularly drove by the home to track the pumpkin’s progress.

For those who would like to see the final product, it is currently on display at the Pictou Sobeys store.

Fraser Miller stands with his 919-pound pumpkin at this year’s weigh-off. The Caribou Island resident spends most of his year cultivating a giant pumpkin in the effort to make each year bigger than the last.