BROCKWAY — Growing pumpkins has become a family affair over the last few years for the Joe and Elizabeth Powell family of Brockway.
This year, the Powells, including daughter Eliza Powell, grew a giant pumpkin in their back yard, estimated to weigh 485 pounds.
It wasn’t the family’s first attempt to grow a large pumpkin, but it was the most successful.
“Actually my buddy, Brent Lindemuth, got me involved in this,” said Joe Powell. “It started out being a little friendly competition between us. He’s been growing them, then he gave me a plant, and this is our third year growing pumpkins. This is the largest one we’ve ever had.”
Last year, they grew a pumpkin to about 125 pounds, while the pumpkin before that one was even smaller.
“I was surprised when it got that big,” said Joe Powell. “We’ve had pumpkins but they’ve never really turned out quite as good.”
“We call it his baby,” said Eliza Powell.
Joe Powell said the key to growing one so large is lots of water and fertilizer.
The family noted the sheer effort and maintenance required to keep the pumpkin alive.
“Every day we watered it, especially this summer with how dry it was,” said Elizabeth Powell.
The family tried to grow other large pumpkins but deer got to them.
Once the stem of the pumpkin was cut, the massive pumpkin was loaded onto several tractors and is now on display outside of the hair and nail salon, Beauty and Beyond off Route 219 in Brockway, where Elizabeth works. The salon is behind Fremer’s Market, which is owned by Elizabeth’s parents.
After seeing the large pumpkin, many in the community think it’s fake, said Joe Powell.
“They said they have never seen something so big,” he said.
While the Powell pumpkin is certainly a giant pumpkin by most gardeners’ standards, this year’s Great Pumpkin Weigh Off in Altoona recorded pumpkins weighing in at 1,778 pounds, 1,883.5 pounds and 1,699 pounds.
The Powells say they will try to grow a bigger pumpkin next year.
“We’ll pick the seeds out of this pumpkin,” said Elizabeth Powell. “And we’re also going to give everybody a seed for Christmas and they can grow one from there.”