PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s pumpkin season and while many people are grabbing their lattes and pies– Aaron Wessling is busy tending to his massive 800 plus-pound pumpkin.
“This is Rufus. He is an Atlantic giant pumpkin. He’s approximately 820 pounds right now. That’s an estimate by measuring it, hopefully, it’ll be more,” Wessling said.
Growing the great gourd in the back of his Portland home, Wessling said the humongous squash has become quite the neighborhood attraction.
“The little area I’m growing it in is about 255 square feet. It’s literally a swale between two garages,” he said. “When the neighborhood kids– they come by and look at it — it’s like three times the size they are.”
Wessling said growing a giant pumpkin requires lots of TLC. He adds that seed genetics are the secret to its massive size.
“The main thing you have to do is get a seed from another giant pumpkin.. this one here is from a grower in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Basically, when growing it what you want to do is make sure the plant is healthy and that you’re picking off all the other pumpkins that grow and channeling all of the energy into one.”
Wessling planted his giant pumpkin seed on Earth day in April and spent most of quarantine tending to it and watching it grow.
“With everything going on in 2020, I was just happy to be able to do it and have a fun distraction,” Wessling said. “When you look at pictures it’s gone from that size to this in the course of four months. We had a week or two that it was growing 30 pounds in a day … You can visibly see when you go to bed and wake up in the morning the change.”
Cultivating giant pumpkins has become Wessling’s ‘growing’ hobby. He grew his first massive gourd last year. The giant clocked in at 829 pounds and placed 13th in the “Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off” at Bauman’s Farm in Gervais.
“It’s now estimating roughly about the same size — which is kind of funny — to last year’s, I may have a ceiling to my pumpkin potential,” Wessling said. “Compared to some of the other people that do this here is a small pumpkin, so still a lot to learn for sure from people who have been doing this a lot longer.”
This year, Wessling plans to enter his pumpkin in the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers‘ Terminator Weigh-off in Tualatin. After that, he said he wants to carve it for Halloween.