Greene resident Ron Wallace spent Saturday afternoon at Frerichs Farm in Warren at the annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off. This was the second pumpkin contest that Wallace attended this month, the first one being at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts last Friday where his pumpkin "The Freak II" broke the world record for largest pumpkin when it weighed-in at 2,009 pounds.
Because of its circumference and measurements, Wallace was hoping "The Pleasure Dome" would beat his newly-claimed world record on Saturday, however after weighing in at 1,872 pounds, his original record still stands. "The Pleasure Dome" is still awe-inspiring, being the largest pumpkin that Frerichs Farm has ever had on-site and the second largest recorded pumpkin in the world.
"I'm sorry to disappoint so many people that came from all over expecting a world record, I was looking forward to it too but you never know until you put it on the scale," said Wallace. "As of right now this is the second place pumpkin in the world, my other one is first place and I'm really happy about that."
"I had a feeling that with a big, giant circumference like that, I might come in a little under the charts because there's not much information on pumpkins this size and this shape so we don't have any data to compare it to, but I'm really happy with it," he continued. "Whatever it weighed I was happy with it. It's still an unbelievable weight."
Following the weigh-in, Wallace explained some of this methods to visitors, which included Epsom Salts, Borax and other forms of fertilizer.
"Epsom Salts are magnesium sulfates. People think that you use it for your feet but it's also a great form of fertilizer" he explained. "I tell people all the time if you have houseplants at home that need a little kick, throw a tablespoon of Epsom Salts and a gallon of lukewarm water and water your plants and they'll bounce back in a couple of days."
"We do a lot of unusual things here with the pumpkins," Wallace went on. "We use a lot of Mycorrhiza fungi and Azospirillum which fixes atmospheric nitrogen and converts it to usable nitrogen for plants. Giant pumpkin growers are ahead of people all over the world who are trying to go more organic in their fertilizer and they are really committed to it and are making advances in the hobby and around the world in organic farming."
Mike Parente, a Coventry resident, friend of Wallace and fellow member of Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers, explained that much of the secret to growing the giant pumpkins is all natural. (Parente's pumpkin earned third place at last year's competition at Frerichs Farm.)
"Chemicals like Miracle Grow give you your basic plant food for that year but actually kills your soil," he said. "We don't use Miracle Grow, we use things like Neptune's Harvest (a fish fertilizer nutrient), seaweed and kelp meal. There are more and more products out there every year and obviously they're working."
This year was Wallace's 23rd season of pumpkin-growing; a hobby that he started with his father that soon "became an obsession". "The Pleasure Dome" pumpkin will now go to the New York Botanical Gardens for a festival later this month. Wallace says he will save the seeds as they "are what makes the hobby go on" and will try to pollinate them with his record-holding pumpkin to grow an even bigger gourd next year.