Oct 12, 2014

Locally Speaking

It's The Great Pumpkin, New Jersey: 863-Pounder On display In Long Valley

It started as a Christmas present from Michael Starr's wife, a bag of special seeds and a how-to manual.

And now it's grown into the second-biggest pumpkin on record in New Jersey history, according to Starr, the pumpkin's owner

The jumbo-size Jack-o'-lantern, which was grown by the Long Valley attorney on Schooley's Mountain, is the main attraction at Ort Farms this fall. Grown in Starr's front yard, the giant white squash weighs in at a mind-boggling 863 pounds.

"It's definitely something to come and see," said Nicole Ort-Moke, manager of Ort Farms. "To see it is a shock."

It's also one of the reasons we picked Ort Farms as one of the 10 places to go pumpkin picking this year.

Starr, who says he has taken a well-deserved ribbing from friends and neighbors, has been fascinated with gigantic pumpkins since his childhood, and told his wife of his fascination in passing. He received the seeds two years ago.

On his first try last spring, Starr's biggest pumpkin was 150 pounds, he said. After fine-tuning the complicated growing process, he landed in the record book with his second crop, behind only the 919-pound behemoth grown by South Jersey resident Andy Wetzel, Starr said.

After finishing 10th at a pumpkin festival in Doylestown, Pa. two weeks ago, Starr called Ort Farms and offered the pumpkin.

"I said nobody is going to see this pumpkin in my front yard," Starr said. "I wanted other people to enjoy it, too."

Starr planted the seeds from Atlantic Giant variety on April 15. The prize pumpkin is one of four grown by Starr in a 20-by-25 area this summer. The others checked in at 750, 400 and 300 pounds, respectively, he said.

The pumpkin is white because it was under a tent, Starr said. Lots of fertilizer, water, organic materials and help from Mother Nature were required for Starr to grow his great pumpkin, which gained as much as 30 pounds per day at its peak, Starr said. His biggest challenge was keeping it disease-free.

"You have to stay on top of it," Starr said.

Ort Farms, which used to grow its own giant pumpkins in the 1980s- its biggest was in the 400-pound range - plans to keep the prodigious pumpkin until the first week in November. Then, Starr said he'll retrieve it, break it down and use it to help grow his next crop.

Starr's goal next summer, he said, is to beat Wetzel's state record. –NJ

No comments:

Post a Comment