New Hampshire has never had an inferiority complex in our “bigger-is-better” culture. Give me 8,969 square miles of New Hampshire beauty over 261,914 square miles of Texas tumbleweeds any day. Altogether now, “We’re number 44, we’re number 44!”
New Hampshire can claim that size matters when it comes to growing massive members of the cucurbita family. That would be pumpkins to you and me. In fact, the largest pumpkin ever grown officially in New Hampshire tipped, or rather, crushed, the scale at 1,337 pounds. Let’s check the heaviest entry from Texas, shall we? Just 620 pounds. So much for “everything’s bigger in Texas.”
Could it simply be that a big pumpkin in a small state is just an optical illusion? Not likely. Right about now, New Hampshire’s giant pumpkin growers are gathering friends to help them roll their freakazoid fruits onto scales all around the Granite State. Some of the best pumpkin-growing soil is found from Litchfield to Henniker and points in between.
You think raising a child is a challenge? Try cultivating something that goes from zero to 600 in a matter of months. There are tricks to the trade that I am about to share with you.
First, you pony up to $15 per seed. You’re really paying for proven lineage from a specimen that may have weighed over 1,300 pounds. Next, you plant your seed indoors to give it a head start. TIP: Gently file the seed’s edges to help it open easier. TIP #2: Put it in a sealed baggie with a moist napkin and place it in a dark warm place, like under your hot tub. TIP #3: Remember to remove the baggie in four days. Failure to do so for a few months could cause friends to remark in late summer, “Isn’t this taking hydroponics to the extreme?”
The culture of competitive gourd-growing strikes me to be truly bizarre in a charming kind of way. Dozens of Internet sites are dedicated to this endeavor. You’ll learn about shade tents, weed management and pumpkin monogramming. In fact, here’s another idea I’ve unearthed online to assist in your quest for a bigger, flashier pumpkin. TIP #4: Scatter moth balls around the base of your prize pumpkin to deter mice, which are more than happy to turn your specimen into a rodent condominium complex.
Then there’s BigPumpkins.com. Don’t worry. It’s not an adults-only site. However, their amusing merchandise store includes wall clocks, license plate frames and Big Pumpkin boxers.
Growing these monsters of the midway isn’t all fun and games. Pity poor Bruce Whittier of Henniker, whose whopping 1,458-pounder was disqualified from official record recognition in 2003 because of a hole that developed in his amazing entry.
Does Texas have a pumpkin regatta like we do in Goffstown? Have Texans ever stacked 25,000 jack-o-lanterns on scaffolding like we do in Keene?
When it comes to big fruit in a small state, you need look no further than “Deep in the Heart of New Hampshire.” NH
Mike Morin is a “35-year radio veteran” (who doesn’t look a day over 29) at WZID-FM 95.7. He moonlights as a humor writer and as a candlepin bowling announcer — occasionally at the same time.