Orange County

Summer Project: Grow a Mega Pumpkin (and Maybe Win Big)

Irvine Park Railroad awarded big cash prizes to 2021 pumpkin growers; now it is time to prep for fall 2022.

Sasa Boskovic

Garden goings-on are proliferating as April ends and May blows in, with tours, events, and tip-filled seminars sprouting as quickly as dandelions on a sunny hillside.

But there is one regional gardening event riding in on the breeze that is rather different, starting with the fact that it is centered on a superstar of fall, not spring.

Adding to the quirkiness of this end-of-April gathering?

It has a second celebration in its sights, in September, when the fruits of everyone's efforts will literally be revealed.

We're talking about the Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Irvine Park Railroad, the summer-ending showdown that features some truly sizeable squashes.

Some of those squashes can translate into money for the top winners. The 2021 winners went home with over $8,000 in cash, making this one of the biggest pumpkin-related contests on the West Coast.

Are you a pumpkin person who has a divine time with vines? Best start thinking about the enormous orange orbs you'll need to start growing soon, all to compete in the late-summer competition.

To help you get there?

There's a 2022 Giant Pumpkin Growers Forum happening at the Orange-based family attraction at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 30.

"Members will provide an overview of how to grow a giant pumpkin from seed to harvest, including starting the seeds, plant maintenance, fertilizing and getting your giant pumpkin to the September weigh-off at Irvine Park Railroad," shares the site.

Could this be your family's fun and fanciful project this summer?

You'll need to plant those seeds soon, so attending this forum might be an excellent starting point for your pumpkin-based journey to September glory.

And consider this whimsical twist: April 30, and May 1, are sometimes referred to as "Half-o-Ween" by Halloween lovers, given the fact that the haunting holiday is exactly six months away.

So while the April 30 happening at Irvine Park Railroad will certainly look and feel like spring, a zing of autumn will be in the air as you prepare to grow your champion pumpkin.

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